Velvet Underground leader and rock pioneer Lou Reed dead at 71

Lou Reed
The late Lou Reed is pictured here performing in Amsterdam in 1974.
(Credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

Lou Reed died today of complications after his liver transplant earlier this year. He was 71.

The singer and guitarist first attracted attention as the leader of the Velvet Underground, a group that began as an Andy Warhol project in the mid 1960s, which combined a sense of the avant-garde with pop music. With Reed’s poetic lyrics and the Velvets’ always experimental (and sometimes dissonant) approach, they arguably serve as the starting point for alternative rock music. Reed was among the first lyricists to openly sing about sex and drugs in his songs.

Though the band were not commercially successful, their influence was widespread, historically on the left-of-center, resulting in the oft-quoted adage that though not many people bought the band’s first album, everybody who did ended up starting a band. The Velvets were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

In one version of his classic song, “Sweet Jane,” he would indirectly sum it up thusly…

Anyone who’s ever had a dream
Anyone who’s ever played a part
Anyone who’s ever been lonely
and anyone who’s ever split apart

 

After the Velvets, Reed went on to collaborate with David Bowie in the 1970s, finding chart success with “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” and carving out a niche for himself in the glam rock movement.

But as an artist, Reed was never content to compromise or to even do what his growing fanbase expected. Over the years he released many albums that listeners and critics alike had difficulty with, such as 1975′s “Metal Machine Music,” which consisted of more than an hour of feeding back guitars that sounded like what its title implies. Other projects were also met with fierce criticism, such as his 2003 Edgar Allen Poe-inspired “The Raven” and his final release, a 2011 collaboration with Metallica entitled “Lulu.”

But for every unexpected left turn his muse took, Reed remained a figurehead for the movement he started and his tours were always successful. He also stayed invested in the arts until his death, mentoring younger artists and even taking the time to write a review of Kanye West’s “Yeezus” on The Talkhouse website.

For a time Reed was infamous for his substance abuse, but he had cleaned up in his later years, finding new inspiration in Tai Chi and his third wife, artist Laurie Anderson. After he underwent a liver transplant in May Anderson was quoted as saying it was “as serious as it gets. He was dying.”

His legacy will live on in the songs he has left behind, in his own magnificent versions and in cover versions by the likes of U2, Joy Division, Nirvana and David Bowie.

Click below for a playlist of our favorite Lou Reed songs.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…