New York - Lou Reed, the punk poet of rock 'n' roll who profoundly influenced generations of musicians as leader of the Velvet Underground and remained a vital solo performer for decades, died on Sunday at age 71.
Reed died in New York state of an ailment related to his recent liver transplant, according to his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, who added that Reed had been in frail health for months. Reed shared a home with his wife and fellow musician, Laurie Anderson, whom he married in 2008.
Reed never approached the commercial success of such superstars as the Beatles and Bob Dylan, but no songwriter to emerge after Dylan so radically expanded the territory of rock lyrics. And no band did more than the Velvet Underground to open rock music to the avant-garde — to experimental theater, art, literature and film, to William Burroughs and Kurt Weill, to John Cage and Andy Warhol, Reed's early patron.
Indie rock essentially began in the 1960s with Reed and the Velvets. Likewise, the punk, New Wave and alternative rock movements of the 1970s, '80s and '90s were all indebted to Reed, whose songs were covered by R.E.M., Nirvana, Patti Smith and countless others.
"The first Velvet Underground record sold 30 000 copies in the first five years," Brian Eno, who produced albums by Roxy Music and Talking Heads, among others, once said. "I think everyone who bought one of those 30 000 copies started a band!"
Reed's trademarks were a monotone of surprising emotional range and power; slashing, grinding guitar; and lyrics that were complex yet conversational, designed to make you feel as if Reed were seated next to you.
Known for his cold stare and gaunt features, he was a cynic and a seeker who seemed to embody downtown Manhattan culture of the 1960s and '70s and was as essential a New York artist as Martin Scorsese or Woody Allen.
Reed's New York
Reed's New York was a jaded city of drag queens, drug addicts and violence, but it was also as wondrous as any Allen comedy, with so many of Reed's songs explorations of right and wrong and quests for transcendence.
He had one Top 20 hit, Walk on the Wild Side, and many other songs that became standards among his admirers, including Heroin, Sweet Jane, Pale Blue Eyes and All Tomorrow's Parties.
24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.
The Voice SA's Gavin Edwards, who recently released his debut album, joined us in studio to play some tunes. Read More »
Lady Gaga is the latest muso to join James Corden for another instalment of Carpool Karaoke. Watch it here! Read More »
10 epic pics.
All the deets.
South AfricaCity Press
Johannesburg CBDResourcing Solutions
HousesR 1 200 000
HousesR 2 495 000
HousesR 6 900 000