Lou Reed 1942-2013

Lou Reed Cover

Submitted by Cashbox Magazine

Lou Reed, rock pioneer singer/songwriter and guitarist, has passed away in Long Island, New York at age 71. The cause of death had not been released at press time but Reed did undergo a liver transplant in May of this year.

In the late sixties Reed was part of the band The Velvet Underground formed by  Reed and John Cale. who would also go on to find success as a solo artist.
Although experiencing very minimal commercial success while together, the band is often recognized by critics as one of the most important and influential groups of the 1960s. In a 1982 interview Brian Eno made the  statement that while the first Velvet Underground album may have sold only 30,000 copies in its early years, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band."

The band caught the attention of Andy Warhol who managed them and made them the house band at his studio, the Factory.. The provocative and unfiltered lyrics of some of the band's songs gave their music an irreverent feel and suited the Warholian crowd to a tee.

Their 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (which featured German singer Nico, with whom the band collaborated), was named the 13th Greatest Album of All Time and the "most prophetic rock album ever made" by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2003.In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the band No. 19 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time” The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, by Patti Smith.

After splitting with the Velvets in 1970, Reed traveled to England and recorded a solo debut backed by members of the progressive-rock band Yes. But it was his next album, 1972’s Transformer, produced by Reed-disciple David Bowie, that pushed him beyond cult status into genuine rock stardom. The song “Walk On the Wild Side,” a loving yet unsentimental evocation of Warhol’s Factory scene, became a radio hit. Wild Side was a salute to the misfits, hustlers, and transvestites who once surrounded Andy Warhol When he was first introduced to Reed's music, Bowie stated, "I had never heard anything quite like it. It was a revelation to me." Each of the song's five verses poignantly describes an actual person who had been a fixture at The Factory during the mid-to-late 1960s: (1) Holly Woodlawn, (2) Candy Darling, (3) "Little Joe" Dallesandro, (4) "Sugar Plum Fairy" Joe Campbell and (5) Jackie Curtis. The song's transgressive lyrics evaded radio censorship. Though the jazzy arrangement (courtesy of bassist Herbie Flowers and saxophonist Ronnie Ross was musically somewhat atypical for Reed, it eventually became his signature song.

As a solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, Reed remained true to himself, ornery and combative (Cashbox Canada Editor Lenny Stoute had a run in with Reed over a parking spot that Reed claimed was his. Stoute’s driver however was a Jersey boy and was having none of it. The confrontation ended with Reed exiting his vehicle and telling them to “f@#K off!”) He was unpredictable and wildly unique at every turn. Genres such as Glam Rock, punk and alternative rock owe a huge debt to Lou Reed. "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."

In May 2013, Reed underwent a liver transplant in Cleveland, Ohio. He claimed on his website after the operation to be "bigger and stronger" than ever. On October 27, 2013, Reed died at the age of 71 from liver disease at his home in Southampton, New York, on Long Island His physician Charles Miller noted that Reed "was fighting right up to the very end. He was doing his Tai Chi exercises within an hour of his death, trying to keep strong and keep fighting.

Tributes were paid to Reed on Twitter, including  Iggy Pop, Miley Cyrus, Salman Rushdie, Samuel L. Jackson, Lenny Kravitz and many others. John Cale, his Velvet Underground bandmate, posted on his Facebook: "The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet…I've lost my 'school-yard buddy'.”

RIP Lou Reed and thanks for the music.

Take A Walk on the Wild Side: http://youtu.be/W2GalMLEt7o