Reports are coming in that Lou Reed – one of rock’s most distinct voices – has passed away.
Born Lewis Allan Reed in 1942, Lou Reed came of age in Brooklyn at a time when jazz was in tumult, the Beat generation was on his doorstep and rock music was born. Studying English at Syracuse University, the youthful songwriter became a worker for Tin Pan Alley – writing topical songs on demand.
Achieving semi-fame with local hit ‘Do The Ostrich’ the prodigal talent then tore away into the avant garde. Drawn towards Andy Warhol’s Factory, Lou Reed formed part of the creative conduit which fuelled The Velvet Underground.
Thrust into a world of freaks, vagabonds and outsiders, the songwriter revelled in his surroundings. Four astonishing studio albums followed, helping to lay down the groundwork what would become known as punk rock.
Departing from the group in 1970, Lou Reed then embarked on a lengthy, often mystifying, solo career which would include some unmistakeable moments. Championed by Bowie, ‘Transformer’ would push Reed back into the limelight before the scorched noir of ‘Berlin’ helped to alienate newfound fans and critics.
‘Metal Machine Music’ perhaps remains his most divisive decision, a double album containing little more than feedback and white noise. Veering between the avant garde and mainstream radio, Lou Reed’s career continually dumbfounded expectations, supplying numerous shocks but frequent delights.
A re-union with John Cale brought the subtle, stunning Andy Warhol tribute ‘Songs For Drella’ before The Velvet Underground went back out on the road in the early 90s. Proving that he should never be placed into one box, a recent collaboration with Metallica once again drew the ire of fans but delighted those who revelled in the songwriter’s deviant spirit.
Receiving a liver transplant earlier this year, Rolling Stone now reports that Lou Reed has passed away at the age of 71.