R.I.P. Lou Reed (1942 – 2013)

Loudster Co | October 28, 2013 - 4:23 am

At the age 71, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground co-founder, has passed away yesterday from liver disease at his home in Southampton, New York, on Long Island. In May 2013, Reed underwent a liver transplant in Cleveland and his physician Charles Miller noted that Reed was fighting right up to the very end.

Born in 1942 at Beth El Hospital (now Brookdale) in Brooklyn, Lewis Allan Reed grew up in Freeport, Long Island having learned to play the guitar from the radio. Reed developed an early interest in rock and roll and rhythm and blues, and during high school played in a number of bands. His first recording was as a member of a doo wop-style group called The Jades.

Reed and his childhood friend John Cale lived together on the Lower East Side, they formed the Velvet Underground in 1964, one of the most influential bands in the history of rock music. The band soon caught the attention of artist Andy Warhol when Warhol had the idea for the group to take on a chanteuse, the European former model and singer Nico. Reed and the others registered their objection by titling their debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico to imply that Nico was not accepted as a member of the group. The album, released in 1967, is considered one of the most influential rock albums ever recorded. Rolling Stone has it listed as the 13th most influential album of all time. Brian Eno once famously stated that although few people bought the album, most of those who did were inspired to form their own band. And between that first album, 1968′s White Light/White Heat, and 1970′s self-titled album, they also pushed their style in too many directions to count, trying out stripped-down gospel-folk and jittery proto-punk and brain-jangling sound-collage. But despite the patronage of art-world giant Andy Warhol, they never became anything more than a cult band in their time together. That cult would grow, considerably, in the years after Reed left.

Reed quit the Velvet Underground in 1970 to pursue a solo career. Along with Iggy Pop and David Bowie, and helped glam rock come into being with his second solo album, 1972′s Transformer, and he also scored a hit with that album’s “Walk On The Wild Side.” He also helped noise-rock come into being with Metal Machine Music, a 1975 double album. And in the ensuing decades, his career continued to move in unpredictable patterns, swinging from the genius (1978′s 11-minute transgressive tock symphony “Street Hassle”) to the quietly impressive (1992′s Magic And Loss) to the messily awful (2003′s Poe-inspired concept album The Raven).

The final album that Reed released during his lifetime was 2011′s Lulu, the collaboration with Metallica. Despite of received mixed to negative reviews by music critics, Reed stated that the album is for “literate people.”

Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground will continued to be the most influential to many rock act over years and an important for what rock music are today.

R.I.P. Lou Reed.

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