Lou Reed, the iconic frontman for the Velvet Underground, and pioneer for future musical genres including punk, art rock, and glam rock, died at the age of 71, after suffering from an ailment related to a liver transplant. He leaves behind one of the most groundbreaking legacies in music history, one that began with the Velvet Underground.
He formed the group in the early 1960s with musician John Cale. Along with the two, the classic lineup would also consist of guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker. They released four albums between 1967 and 1970 including the landmark the Velvet Underground and Nico. Some of the classic tunes he recorded with the group include “Heroin”, “Sister Ray”, and “I’m Waiting for the Man”.He left in 1970 for a solo career, which would include his only top twenty single “Walk on the Wild Side”, and the top thirty album Transformer.
Throughout his career, Reed was known for his songwriting that was either deemed dark, or touched on what was perhaps considered taboo in the 1960s and 1970s music including drug use and sex. As a result, Reed would lack the commercial success that was bestowed on other artists including the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Aretha Franklin. However, Reed’s contributions in music have always outweighed chart success, expanding the rock genre to avant-garde, experimenting with everything from poetry to theater. Thus, Reed would influence numerous artists including Brian Eno, Patti Smith, Nirvana, R.E.M., and Morrissey.
Reed is survived by musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, along with the Velvet Underground.