Lou Reed: 1942-2013Sunday, October 27, 2013 by: Donna Hopper
Massively influential and notoriously unpredictable, rock and roll pioneer Lou Reed died today in Southampton, New York.
Few details are available regarding the cause of death, but sources report that Reed had a liver transplant in May of this year.
Reed founded and fronted the avant grade Velvet Underground, whose collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol is cited as being one of the most influential in contemporary culture.
Although the Velvet Underground was not commercially successful during its sporadic early career, the band's brand of experimental rock is widely regarded among the most important in rock and roll history.
Record producer, Brian Eno, is famously quoted as stating: "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 30,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."
Formed in New York City in 1964, the Velvet Underground featured Reed on guitar and vocals, as well as John Cale (numerous instruments, vocals), Sterling Morrison (guitar) and Maureen Tucker (drums).
Reed was the band's primary songwriter and penned four albums before leaving the band in 1970 - The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967), White Light/White Heat (1968), The Velvet Underground (1969), and Loaded (1970).
The band enjoyed a boon in popularity in the decades that followed, and a brief reunion of the Reed-Cale-Morrison-Tucker lineup in 1992 saw a successful European tour and sparked interest in a North American tour until conflict between Reed and Cale caused the Velvet Underground to fold once again.
Some of their most popular recordings include I'm Waiting For the Man, Heroin, Sweet Jane, Femme Fatale, Foggy Notion, Pale Blue Eyes, Rock and Roll, I'll Be Your Mirror, All Tomorrow's Parties, and Run Run Run.
The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
As a solo artist, Reed released more than 20 studio albums and collaborated with a number of artists, including David Bowie, Metallica, Metric, Gorillaz, Simple Minds, The Killers, Vince Gill, and many more.
Among his solo recordings, fan favourites include the tracks Walk On The Wild Side, I Can't Stand It, and Perfect Day.
Reed and the Velvet Underground's undeniable influence can be heard in the psychedelic rock of the 70s, punk of the 80s, and rock and roll to today, with a number of covers garnering more acclaim than the band's originals including those by REM, Nirvana, Billy Idol, Cat Power, Beck, The Decemberists, David Bowie, Patti Smith, Bauhaus, and The Cowboy Junkies.
The Cowboy Junkies' most famous recording is their remake of The Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane, which Lou Reed himself described as "the best and most authentic version I have ever heard."
Fans and friends have taken to social media to offer tributes to the rock icon.
"Rest in peace, Lou Reed. Your musical influence will never be forgotten," tweeted Neil Patrick Harris today.
"The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet…I’ve lost my ‘school-yard buddy’," said John Cale.
"R.I.P. Lou Reed and thank you and the Velvets. U were my inspiration in the '70s, 4 without you there would have been no punk rock!" tweeted Billy Idol.
"heavenly wine and roses…seem to whisper to me….when you smile ..RIP Lou Reed." wrote author and chef Anthony Bourdain.
"RIP Lou Reed. One of the greatest artists of our time," said comedian Ricky Gervais.
Reed was 71 years old and is survived by his wife, musician and performing artist Laurie Anderson.