Posted by themusicsover on October 27, 2013
March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013
Lou Reed was a Brooklyn-born singer, songwriter and musician who is as much remembered as the leader of the Velvet Underground as he is for the successful solo career that followed. Influenced early on by rock ‘n roll , jazz, and rhythm and blues, Reed learned to play the guitar by mimicking songs he heard on the radio. By the time he was in high school, Reed was already playing in a handful of bands. While attending Syracuse University during the early ’60s, he hosted a radio program that focused primarily on doo wop, free jazz and R&B. He later claimed that much of his guitar playing was influenced by jazz saxophonists like Ornette Coleman. During the mid ’60s, Reed was living in New York City where he worked as a staff writer for Pickwick Records. At one point, the label decided to form a group around Reed in an attempt to better pitch his songs. That outfit, the Primitives, included a Welsh multi-instrumentalist by the name of John Cale. The two became fast friends and began building a group that would soon become the Velvet Underground which also included Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker. On the behest of Andy Warhol, the group soon brought in German model and musician, Nico just in time to record their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Although the album was just moderately successful at the time, it is considered one of the most influential of the ’70s. In fact, Rolling Stone cites it at #13 of all time. White Light/White Heat followed and there would be three more until the band called it quits in 1970. Two years later, Reed resurfaced with his debut release, Lou Reed, which was more-or-less new recordings of unreleased Velvet Underground tracks. The album barely got noticed, but was thankfully followed quickly by the David Bowie and Mick Ronson produced Transformer, which reestablished Reed as one of rock music’s most important figures of the era. Songs like “Vicious,” “Satellite Of Love,” and “Walk On The Wild Side” are as influential as any that came out of the ’70s. Reed went on to record and tour through professional peaks and valleys over the next four decades which included a brief reunion of the Velvet Underground. One fact that can’t be denied about Reed, is that his name is synonymous with what would become known as protopunk, a classification of groundbreaking and often difficult to categorize musicians who many would later claim birthed punk rock – not because they were musically similar to punk rock, but because they continually challenged the norm. It must also be noted that Reed was one of the greatest poets rock music has ever known. In April of 2013, Reed received a liver transplant, and by all accounts was recovering, in fact, he later claimed on his website to be stronger than ever. On October 27, 2013 however, he passed away in his home at the age of 71. Cause of death was not immediately released.
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