Lou Reed (1942-2013)

No medicine, no science. Just a bit of recognition for Lou Reed. Lou died earlier today from liver disease. He had a liver transplant earlier this year and unfortunately did not get a lot of use out of it. After his transplant he said on Facebook over the summer “”I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry. His career was quite long and varied. He was a subject for “American Masters” just a few years ago. And earlier this year he received an award from GQ for “Inspiration of the Year” presented by Ronnie Wood.

Lou was a moving force in Velvet Underground along with John Cale. The Velvets were together from 1967 to 1970. Rolling Stone puts their debut album “The Velvet Underground & Nico” as much a landmark album as the Beatle’s Sergeant Pepper or Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Although they never said that within the first few years of the album coming out. In fact they also admit to ignoring the initial releases of Sweet Jane and Rock & Roll. Transformer, released in 1972, was produced by David Bowie and received a significant amount of attention. Cover bands were playing Heroin, Waiting for the Man, and what to me seemed to be a Reed influenced “Memo from Turner” in the movie Performance. And actually, Jagger, has admitted to being influenced by the sound of the Velvet’s “Heroin”.Journalists and fans looked back at the earlier work. “Walk On The Wild Side” became a pop hit.

He was one of the first true “punks” and as such inspired even the grandpa of Punk, Iggy Pop. His influence extended to a good number of bands including: Patty Smith, Iggy & The Stooges, R.E.M. Jesus and Mary Chain, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, and even the White Stripes.

Julian Casablancas of the Strokes credits Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground of being early influences on his song writing and the early Strokes sound. Julian mentioned his first meeting with Lou did not go exactly as he had dreamed it might. Lou had not heard of the Strokes. But Lou did give a great review this year to Yeezus and Kanye.

He had a history of calling out visitors to his shows including Clive Davis asking where his money was and also in the mid-70’s even Mick Jagger at a show in New York City, letting Mick know where Lou thought current rock and roll was at and who was doing it.

Lou had many irreverent and many thoughtful statements over the year:

On New York City as a place to write about: “Joyce had Dublin, Faulkner had the south, I’ve got New York.”

About composing his song Vicious: He said the idea for the song came from an offhand comment of Andy Warhol’s. Lou said he kept a notebook of quotes and comments for later use. Warhol told Lou, “Maybe you should do a song called ‘Vicious'”. What do you mean?, Lou replied. Andy responded “I don’t know, maybe ‘you’re so vicious, you hit me with a flower”.

Sweet Jane:


Perfect Day:

American Masters:

A Night With Lou Reed – At the Bottom Line, NYC 1983

Nobody like you (Letterman 11/17/89):

Dirty Blvd (1989 TV)

Heroin (Acoustic Lou Reed)

Vicious (Hard Rock Cafe, live, 1997)

Vicious (Live 1974, Bruxelles) Bowie inspired blonde hair


Lou Reed, Velvet Underground Leader and Rock Pioneer, Dead at 71 (Rolling Stone)

Outsider Whose Dark, Lyrical Vision Helped Shape Rock ‘n’ Roll (New York Times Obit)

20 Essential Tracks Selected by Rolling Stone