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Rock legend Lou Reed dead at 71

10/28/2013

Lou Reed, whose groundbreaking work with the Velvet Underground in the 1960's paved the way for punk rock, died on Sunday (October 27th) in Southampton, New York, at age 71, according to Billboard. Although no cause of death has been reported, Reed revealed last June that in April, he had undergone a successful liver transplant at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic. He last appeared in public with photographer Mick Rock on October 3rd to help promote the book Transformer, which chronicled Reed's iconic early-'70s period. Reed appeared gaunt and discolored in the photos of the New York City event. Reed is survived by his wife since 2008, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson. Reed had previously been married to British designer Sylvia Morales throughout the 1980's. Memorial plans are still pending.

John Cale, who co-founded the Velvet Underground with Reed, posted a tribute on his Facebook page, stating, "The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet. . . I've lost my 'school-yard buddy.'"

Velvets drummer Maureen Tucker told CNN that Reed was "generous, encouraging and thoughtful." (Working with him) "sometimes could be trying" (to some people, but) "never to me. I guess we learned from each other. We all learned from each other."

Friends and fans react on Twitter

The Who: "R.I.P. Lou Reed. Walk on the peaceful side."

Steven Tyler: "RIP TO A GREAT FRIEND A FELLOW MUSICIAN. FROM MAXES TO THE MASSES YOU MADE THE WORLD SING. I LOVE YOU LOU!"

John Densmore: "The soul of NYC has broken on thru. Much respect, Lou, john densmore"

Peter Frampton: "RIP Lou Reed very sad news"

Guns N' Roses: "'"I'm an artist and I can be as egotistical as I want to be' RIP Lou Reed"

Billy Idol: "R.I.P. Lou Reed & thank you & the Velvets. U were my inspiration in the '70's, 4 without you there would have been no punk rock!"

Dave Navarro: F***! One of my all time heroes and friends has passed. RIP Lou!"

Motorhead: "Rest In Peace to Lou Reed. You will be missed!"

Flea: "I love Lou reed so much. Always"

Paul Stanley: "RIP Lou Reed. A musician, artist and trailblazer who played by his own rules."

Weezer: "R.I.P Lou Reed - VU was a big influence when weezer was being formed, and Ric Ocasek told us cool stories of his friendship with him."

Justin Timberlake: "RIP Lou Reed"

Jim James: "RIP Lou Reed. you made the world a better place. we are forever grateful."

Russell Simmons: "RIP Lou Reed. New York lost one of our greatest gifts today..."

Questlove Jenkins: "Awww damn....Lou Reed died?"

Lou Reed History

Lou Reed was born Lewis Allan Reed on March 2nd, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in Freeport, Long Island, and as a teen underwent electroshock treatment in an effort to cure his bisexuality. He attended Syracuse University starting in 1960 and graduated from the University's College of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. in June 1964.

That same year, he began his stint as a staff songwriter for Pickwick Records in Manhattan where he first became connected with John Cale. The original lineup of the Velvets -- including guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker -- hooked up with pop artist Andy Warhol, who became their manager and producer, who in turn paired them with former model and monotone vocalist Nico to record their historic 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Over the course of his work with the Velvet Underground between 1966 and 1970, Reed essentially restructured the rules of pop songwriting, bringing in the harsh realities of New York City with its heroin and speed junkies, homosexuals, transvestites and an alternative, fringe society that fit in nowhere to life, with such classic songs as "Heroin," "I'm Waiting For The Man," "White Light/White Heat," "Pale Blue Eyes," "Sweet Jane," among many others.

Reed went on to greater success in his solo career, with the breakthrough 1972 album Transformer -- produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson -- which featured his biggest hit, "Walk On The Wild Side" -- which peaked at Number 16 and spotlighted the assorted cast of "superstars" at Andy Warhol's Factory from the mid-to-late-'60's. The '70s proved a fertile period with Reed producing his best loved and most interesting works including 1973's Berlin, 1974's Rock N' Roll Animal -- and even 1975's sonic noise wash, Metal Machine Music, featuring the various distorted sounds of guitar feedback -- which went on to inspire a generation of industrial musicians and producers.

The 1980's ended with the critically acclaimed New York album, with its lead single "Dirty Blvd." spending four weeks at Number One on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 1990 he and John Cale reunited for Songs For Drella, which was dedicated to the late Andy Warhol. In 1993 the Velvet Underground reunited for a European tour and opened for U2 for five shows. In 1996 the Velvets were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2009 Reed, later-day Velvets member Doug Yule, and Maureen Tucker, took part in a group interview at the New York Public Library.

That year, Reed first performed with Metallica, who backed him at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's anniversary shows at Madison Square Garden. Reed immediately suggested they record together. In 2011, Reed and Metallica released the critically panned album, Lulu, which marked Reed's last album release of his lifetime.

Lou Reed shed some light on the pallet he drew from for his groundbreaking '60s songs with the Velvet Underground: "What we were doing with the Velvet Underground, as a writer, when I was looking at it as someone very aware of Leonard Cohen and (Allen) Ginsburg, and William Burroughs. I saw an opportunity to write thematically about things that no one was even near. 'Cause human relationships and difficulties and situations and crime and dope and this, that and violence -- all in a contemporary idium. And nobody was doing that."

Reed told us that from his earliest songs for the Velvet Underground through the present day, fans can find a distinctive link within his work: "I like to think that I've tried to always think about and represent people who don't have very much, the underdog, people who are on the outside "

Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro recalled to us the night he and Reed had dinner together in New York City: "It was just rad. I was sitting with Lou Reed having Italian food at some Little Italy place. It was just. . . We just talked about motorcycles and music and politics of course, and it was very difficult to converse with him because just his energy is so intense that it's almost pummeling. The guy orders a bottle of wine and it makes you feel like everything you have to say is just uninteresting."

Back in 1997, renowned mastering engineer Bob Ludwig presented Reed with a NARAS Heroes Award and touched upon the importance of his work as a lyricist: "Lou is first and foremost a poet. When I was doing his box set, I got to go through all of Lou's old repertoire, and hearing some of those songs again, and some of them for the first time, you can't help but be struck by the, the real sincerity and brilliance of his lyrics."

Pete Townshend's latest release, the CD/DVD set Rachel Fuller Presents In The Attic With Pete Townshend And Friends, features highlights from Townshend and girlfriend Fuller's 2007 low-key acoustic gatherings dubbed "Attic Jams" at New York City's Joe's Pub and L.A.'s Hotel Cafe. The set features Townshend's historic one-off live collaboration with Lou Reed on the Velvet Underground classics "White Light/White Heat" and "Pale Blue Eyes."

Fuller told us that usually at the Attic Jams, Townshend only briefly goes over the material with the guest artists, but Reed wanted a bit more rehearsal: "Lou actually did want to come over, and we were staying in a hotel in New York. And he came over to the hotel the day before, and I could tell that he was quite -- I wouldn't say nervous but he was anxious, y'know, because it's not something that these guys generally do. Do a low production, unrehearsed hootenanny. And as soon as they started to play together, he just kind of cracked this big smile and looked at Pete and said, 'It's gonna be good, isn't it? This is gonna be fun.' And it was."

Townshend recalled his and Reed's one and only rehearsal prior to their live debut: "Lou Reed was a little bit nervous, I think. He came up to the hotel room and did a proper run-through with me. But as soon as we played a few chords, he just looked at me and said, y'know, 'This is going to be fine,' and I looked at him and said, Yeah.' He said, 'So we really don't have to run-through' and I said, 'No we don't, but we may as well,' so we did run through."

Metallica frontman James Hetfield confirmed to us the report that one of Reed's lyrics, for the song "Junior Dad," brought both him and guitarist Kirk Hammett to tears: "Well, I think without getting into too much detail, it was just extremely moving. You know, Kirk just losing his father recently, Lou has lost his father, and me as well, it had that kind of comforting, father, you know, 'it's gonna be okay' feeling to it, and that really moved us."


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