Obituary: Rock legend Lou Reed

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Obituary: Rock legend Lou Reed

Post by Bombay »

Lou Reed, Velvet Underground frontman, dies at 71

US musician and Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed has died at the age of 71.

The singer-songwriter, whose best-known hits included Perfect Day and Walk On The Wild Side, was considered one of the most influential in rock music.

The Velvet Underground became known for their fusion of art and music and collaborating with Andy Warhol.

According to the Associated Press news agency, Reed's literary agent said he died of a "liver-related ailment".

A spokesman told the BBC a statement would be released shortly.

An admitted hard drinker and drug user for many years, Reed underwent a liver transplant in May this year after cancelling five California concert dates scheduled in April.

"I am a triumph of modern medicine," Reed posted on his website on 1 June.

"I look forward to being on stage performing, and writing more songs to connect with your hearts and spirits and the universe well into the future."

The Velvet Underground never achieved much commercial success, but their influence on music in later decades was widely recognised.

Punk, glam and alternative rock movements of the 1970s, '80s and '90s were all indebted to Reed, whose songs were covered by the likes of REM, David Bowie, Nirvana, Patti Smith and countless others.

Music producer Brian Eno once reflected their influence saying: "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."

The band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

After quitting Velvet Underground in 1970 Reed released his self-titled debut in 1972, but it wasn't until the Bowie produced album Transformer later that year - which featured both Perfect Day and Walk on the Wild Side - that brought him chart success.

As a solo artist he released 20 studio albums, with his last album, Hudson River Wind Meditations, released in 2007.

He is survived by his second wife, the musician and performing artist, Laurie Anderson.

Lewis Allan Reed, better known as Lou, was a singer and guitarist known for his deadpan voice and distinctive lyrics.

In a career spanning many decades - both in the band Velvet Underground and in his subsequent solo career - he had a huge influence on the shape of rock music.

He was born in Brooklyn in 1942, and as a teenager he became a fan of early rock'n'roll, playing the guitar in several high school bands.

After attending Syracuse University, Reed moved to New York City and began work as a songwriter.

In 1965 he co-founded the rock band Velvet Underground with John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker.

The band recorded four albums, the lyrics of which often had dark or explicit themes that had rarely had been addressed so openly in rock'n'roll.

Their hits included Heroin, which addressed Reed's growing drug use, and Sweet Jane.

They caught the attention of artist Andy Warhol, who became the group's manager and helped them fuse avant-garde rock with pop art.

While they gained little mainstream attention at the time, the Velvet Underground is now considered one of the most influential bands in the history of rock music.

A quote often attributed to musician Brian Eno sums this up by saying: "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."

Going solo
After a series of personality clashes, Reed decided to leave Velvet Underground, and worked for a while in his father's accounting firm.

Little is known about this period in his life - according to Rolling Stone magazine, he was a virtual recluse - but in 1972 he moved to England, signed a recording contract and brought out his debut solo album, which was simply entitled Lou Reed.

But it is his second solo album, Transformer, that is perhaps his most famous.

Co-produced by David Bowie, the album contains the hit singles Walk on the Wild Side and Perfect Day.

With the influence of David Bowie, Reed embraced the glam rock look of the era, sporting bleach-blonde hair and black fingernail polish.

He continued to release albums over the course of his long career.

In 1990 The Velvet Underground reunited in France to play a benefit concert, and there was hope of a more permanent reunion.

But after a European tour, a similar American line-up was cancelled abruptly.

After a long battle with drink and drugs, Lou Reed became ill from liver failure in 2013, and had a transplant in May.

"I am a triumph of modern medicine," he posted on his website in June.

Reed's first marriage, to British designer Sylvia Morales, ended in divorce. In 2008, he married his long-term partner, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson.

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