DISPATCH – OCT 28, 2013
Musician legend Lou Reed died yesterday in Southampton, NY. He was 71 years. His death was attributed to an ailment related to his recent liver transplant, according to his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, reported the Associated Press. Wylie also stated that Reed’s health had been fragile for months. Reed was a solo artist and leader of the Velvet Underground. He lived in Amagansett, NY with his wife, the musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson.
Reed was seen recently in the Hamptons when the couple attended the opening of a solo show of works by Chuck Close at Guild Hall Museum in August. Reed was the subject of a portrait by Close rendered as a Jacquard tapestry.
Reed had a profound impact on American music and is noted for pushing rock music into the avant-garde and, later, into the radio waves and popular music. His music was a combination of up-front lyrics that came close to spoken word set to driving, slashing or grinding guitar that alternated for prominent within the music. His lyrics were that of a cynic and a storyteller who didn’t pull punches about the worlds he described.
Reed’s best known songs include “Heroin” and “Sweet Jane” with the Velvet Underground and “Walk on the Wild Side”, “Pale Blue Eyes,” “I’m Waiting for the Man” and others as a solo artist.
Reed’s work with Warhol as part of the Velvet Underground was one of Reed’s most important collaborations. The group featured the songwriting of Reed and John Cale with Reed on guitar, Cale on viola, bass and other instruments. Other core musicians in the original lineup included drummer Moe Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison, according to NPR.
Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 2, 1942 to Sidney Reed, a tax accountant, and his wife Toby Reed. He grew up in Freeport in Nassau County, Long Island. Reed later moved to NYC where he became an integral part of the ’60s and ’70s NYC scene.
“Indie rock essentially begins in the 1960s with Reed and the Velvets; the punk, New Wave and alternative rock movements of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s were all indebted to Reed, whose songs were covered by R.E.M., Nirvana, Patti Smith and countless others,” according to an AP release.
“The first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years,” Brian Eno, who produced albums by Roxy Music and Talking Heads among others, once said. “I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!”
Despite his outsider beginnings, Reed ended up being embraced by the establishment. He perform at the White House, had his writing published in The New Yorker, was featured by PBS in an “American Masters” documentary and won a Grammy in 1999 for Best Long Form Music Video, according to an AP release. The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 1996. Their landmark debut album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” was added to the Library of Congress’ registry in 2006.
Reed is survived by his mother, Toby Reed, his sister, Merrill Weiner, and his wife, the musician and performer Laurie Anderson. No information has been released on memorial services.
RELATED: “Lou Reed: 1942-2013. Outsider Whose Dark, Lyrical Vision Helped Shape Rock ‘n Roll” by Ben Ratliff for The New York Times. Published Oct. 27, 2013.
“Lou Reed, Leader Of The Velvet Underground, Has Died at 71″ by Bill Chappell for NPR.org. Published Oct. 27, 2013.
AP Release Published by The Huffington Post. Published Oct. 27, 2013.