Lou Reed was an absolute legend of the music industry, with his deadpan voice and taboo song lyrics he helped to define the post-war generation, and many of his songs still have a meaning that resonates even to this day. Born in Brooklyn in 1942, he remained in New York all his life and is arguably one of the cities greatest exports; in fact New York was major theme in his song writing.
Lou first gained fame as the guitarist, vocalist, and main songwriter of The Velvet Underground, who bizarrely enough were a total commercial failure in the late 60s, but then later went onto achieve a massive cult following since their break up and are now considered one of the most influential bands of the era. The Velvet Underground with the help of Andy Warhol merged art and Rock and Roll together, so much so that the cover artwork of their most famous album ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ alone is iconic. As music producer Brian Eno once said:
“The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”
After the bands demise Lou embarked on a successful solo career that spanned several decades. Alongside other musicians such as David Bowie, Elton John and Bryan Ferry, Lou became one of the faces of music genre glam rock. In was in this period that he produced the album ‘Transformer’ which can only be described as a masterpiece. The album features all of his best known songs such ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ & ’Perfect Day’.
In life Lou Reed made no secret of his heavy drinking and drug use and often incorporated the themes into many of his song lyrics. Earlier this year he underwent a liver transplant but then released a statement saying he felt ‘Bigger and Stronger’. But sadly on October 27th the front man took his last walk on the wild side.
When looking at his remarkable life and career he can be summed up as a maverick, a man who helped push boundaries in his craft. For that reason his songs will continue to find fans well into the future and inspire a whole new generation to pick up a guitar.
I would end this obituary by saying R.I.P but he absolutely detested that sentiment…
So what I will say is this- wherever you are right now Lou I hope you’re riding a Satellite of Love straight into heaven.
1942 – 2013