Main | Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lou Reed Dead At 71

Rolling Stone has the sad news:
Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May. With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, he was chameleonic, thorny and unpredictable, challenging his fans at every turn. Glam, punk and alternative rock are all unthinkable without his revelatory example. "One chord is fine," he once said, alluding to his bare-bones guitar style. "Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz."
Probably like most of you, my favorite Reed track is 1972's Walk On The Wild Side (his sole hit single) which made Billboard's pop top twenty despite its references to transsexuality, male prostitution, backrooms, and oral sex. I was 13 then and the song utterly fascinated me, leading me to furtively peruse After Dark magazine to learn more about Warhol, the Factory, and the Manhattan nightlife scene. Our condolences to Reed's wife, Laurie Anderson, who brought him out for a couple of songs during her Lincoln Center concert a few years ago. That was the one time I saw him perform.

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