The life of Lou Reed (includes videos from 1960’s and 1970’s)

The life of Lou Reed (includes videos from 1960’s and 1970’s)


Rock & Roll – Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground – Venus in Furs – Live

1) Lou Reed – Sweet Jane – live in Paris, 1974

Velvet Underground-“Sunday Morning” from “Velvet Underground and Nico” LP

Lou Reed

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Lou Reed
Lou Reed (5900407225).jpg

Reed performing at the Hop Farm Music Festival (2011)
Background information
Birth name Lewis Allan Reed
Born March 2, 1942
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died October 27, 2013 (aged 71)
Southampton, New York, United States
Genres Rock, experimental rock, art rock, protopunk, glam rock, avant-garde
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, producer, photographer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, synthesizer, keyboards, piano, harmonica, drums, percussion
Years active 1964–2013
Labels Matador, MGM, RCA, Sire, Reprise, Warner Bros., Pickwick
Associated acts The Velvet Underground, John Cale, Nico, David Bowie, The Killers, Mick Ronson, Laurie Anderson, Peter Gabriel, Metallica
Notable instruments
Ostrich guitar

Lewis AllanLouReed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013) was an American rock musician and songwriter.[1] After being guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground, his solo career spanned several decades. The Velvet Underground were a commercial failure in the late 1960s, but the group has gained a considerable cult following in the years since its demise and has gone on to become one of the most widely cited and influential bands of the era[2] – hence Brian Eno‘s famous quote that while the Velvet Underground’s debut album only sold 30,000 copies, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”[3]

After his departure from the group, Reed began a solo career in 1972. He had a hit the following year with “Walk on the Wild Side“, but subsequently lacked the mainstream commercial success its chart status seemed to indicate.[4] In 1975, Reed released a double album of feedback loops, Metal Machine Music, upon which he later commented, “No one is supposed to be able to do a thing like that and survive.”[5] Reed was known for his distinctive deadpan voice, poetic lyrics and for pioneering and coining the term ostrich guitar tuning.[6]

Early life

Reed was born at Beth El Hospital (now Brookdale) in Brooklyn and grew up in Freeport, Long Island.[7] Contrary to some sources, his birth name was Lewis Allan Reed, not Louis Firbanks, a name that was coined as a joke by Lester Bangs in Creem magazine.[8] Reed is the son of Toby (née Futterman) and Sidney Joseph Reed, an accountant.[9] His family was Jewish,[10] and although he said that he was Jewish, he added, “My God is rock’n’roll. It’s an obscure power that can change your life. The most important part of my religion is to play guitar.”[11][12]

Reed as a high school senior, 1959

Having learned to play the guitar from the radio, he developed an early interest in rock and roll and rhythm and blues, and during high school played in a number of bands.[13] His first recording was as a member of a doo wop-style group called The Jades. In 1956, Reed, who was bisexual,[14] received electroconvulsive therapy as a teenager, which was intended to cure his bisexuality; he wrote about the experience in his 1974 song, “Kill Your Sons”.[15][16] In an interview, Reed said of the experience:

“They put the thing down your throat so you don’t swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That’s what was recommended in Rockland State Hospital to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can’t read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again.”

—Lou Reed quoted in Please Kill Me (1996)[17]

Reed began attending Syracuse University in 1960, studying journalism, film directing, and creative writing. He was a platoon leader in ROTC and later booted from the program for holding an unloaded gun to his superior’s head.[18] In 1961 he began hosting a late-night radio program on WAER called “Excursions On A Wobbly Rail”.[13] Named after a song by pianist Cecil Taylor, the program typically featured doo wop, rhythm and blues and jazz, particularly the free jazz developed in the mid-1950s.[19] Many of Reed’s guitar techniques, such as the guitar-drum roll, were inspired by jazz saxophonists, notably Ornette Coleman. Reed graduated with honors[20] from Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. in June 1964.[16]

While enrolled at Syracuse University, he studied under poet Delmore Schwartz, who he said was “the first great person I ever met”, and they would become friends. He credited Schwartz with showing him how “with the simplest language imaginable, and very short, you can accomplish the most astonishing heights.”[21] Reed dedicated the song “European Son“, from the Velvet Underground’s debut album, to Schwartz.[22] In 1982, Reed also recorded “My House” as a tribute to his late mentor. He later said that his goals as a writer were “to bring the sensitivities of the novel to rock music” or to write the Great American Novel in a record album.[23]

Songwriter at Pickwick Records

In 1964, Reed moved to New York City and began working as an in-house songwriter for Pickwick Records. In 1964, he scored a minor hit with the single “The Ostrich”, a parody of popular dance songs of the time, which included lines such as “put your head on the floor and have somebody step on it”. His employers felt that the song had hit potential, and arranged for a band to be assembled around Reed to promote the recording. The ad hoc group, called “The Primitives”, included Welsh musician John Cale, who had recently moved to New York to study music and was playing viola in composer La Monte Young‘s Theater of Eternal Music, along with Tony Conrad. Cale and Conrad were both surprised to find that for “The Ostrich”, Reed tuned each string of his guitar to the same note, which they began to call his ‘ostrich guitar‘ tuning. This technique created a drone effect similar to their experimentation in Young’s avant-garde ensemble. Disappointed with Reed’s performance, Cale was nevertheless impressed by Reed’s early repertoire (including “Heroin“), and a partnership began to evolve.[21]

The Velvet Underground

Reed and Cale lived together on the Lower East Side, and after inviting Reed’s college acquaintances, guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker, to join the group, they formed the Velvet Underground. Though internally unstable (Cale left in 1968, Reed in 1970), and without commercial success, the band has a long-standing reputation as one of the most influential in rock history.[24]

“Had he accomplished nothing else, his work with the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties would assure him a place in anyone’s rock & roll pantheon; those remarkable songs still serve as an articulate aural nightmare of men and women caught in the beauty and terror of sexual, street and drug paranoia, unwilling or unable to move. The message is that urban life is tough stuff—it will kill you; Reed, the poet of destruction, knows it but never looks away and somehow finds holiness as well as perversity in both his sinners and his quest. . . . [H]e is still one of a handful of American artists capable of the spiritual home run.”

The group soon caught the attention of artist Andy Warhol. One of Warhol’s first contributions was to integrate them into the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Warhol’s associates inspired many of Reed’s songs as he fell into a thriving, multifaceted artistic scene.[citation needed] Reed rarely gave an interview without paying homage to Warhol as a mentor. Conflict emerged when Warhol had the idea for the group to take on a chanteuse, the European former model and singer Nico. Reed and the others registered their objection by titling their debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico to imply that Nico was not accepted as a member of the group.[citation needed] Despite his initial resistance, Reed wrote several songs for Nico to sing, and the two were briefly lovers (as were Nico and Cale later). The Velvet Underground & Nico reached No. 171 on the charts.

The album is now widely considered one of the most influential rock albums ever recorded. Rolling Stone has it listed as the 13th most influential album of all time. Brian Eno once famously stated that although few people bought the album, most of those who did were inspired to form their own band.[26]

By the time the band recorded White Light/White Heat, Nico had quit and Warhol was fired, both against Cale’s wishes.[citation needed] Warhol’s replacement as manager, Steve Sesnick, convinced Reed to drive Cale out of the band. Morrison and Tucker were discomfited by Reed’s tactics but continued with the group.[citation needed] Cale’s replacement was Doug Yule, whom Reed would often facetiously introduce as his younger brother.[citation needed] The group now took on a more pop-oriented sound and acted more as a vehicle for Reed to develop his songwriting craft.[citation needed] The group released two albums with this line up: 1969’s The Velvet Underground and 1970’s Loaded. The latter included two of the group’s most commercially successful songs, “Rock and Roll” and “Sweet Jane“. Reed left the Velvet Underground in August 1970; the band disintegrated as core members Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker departed in 1971 and 1972, respectively. Yule continued until early 1973, and the band released one more studio album, Squeeze, under the Velvet Underground name.

After the band’s move to Atlantic RecordsCotillion label, their new manager pushed Reed to change the subject matter of his songs to lighter topics in hopes of commercial success. The band’s album Loaded had taken more time to record than the previous three albums together, but had not broken the band through to a wider audience. Reed briefly retired to his parents’ home on Long Island.[citation needed]


After quitting the Velvet Underground in August 1970, Reed took a job at his father’s tax accounting firm as a typist, by his own account earning $40 a week. In 1971, he signed a recording contract with RCA Records and recorded his first solo album in London with top session musicians including Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman, members of the progressive rock group Yes. The album, simply titled Lou Reed, contained smoothly produced, re-recorded versions of unreleased Velvet Underground songs, some of which were originally recorded by the Velvets for Loaded but shelved (see the Peel Slowly and See box set). This first solo album was overlooked by most pop music critics and it did not sell well, although music critic Stephen Holden, in Rolling Stone, called it an “almost perfect album. . . . which embodied the spirit of the Velvets.”[27] Holden describes Reed’s unique qualities, in both his voice and lyrics, in the album:

Reed’s voice hasn’t changed much since the early days. Outrageously unmusical, it combines the sass of Jagger and the mockery of early Dylan, but is lower-pitched than either. It is a voice so incapable of bullshit that it makes even an artsy arrangement work by turning the whole thing into a joyous travesty. Just as arresting as Reed’s voice are his lyrics, which combine a New York street punk sensibility and rock song cliches with a powerful poetic gift.[27]

“His artistic self-awareness is so secure that he invariably turns less into more. For he not only awakens nostalgia for Fifties rock, he shows that it is still a vital resource for today’s musicians. . . . The overall impression is that of a knowing primitivism, as serious as it is playful, and never less than refreshing. . . . By keeping close to the roots he is keeping the faith.”

Rolling Stone, (1972)[27]

In December 1972, Reed released Transformer. David Bowie and Mick Ronson co-produced the album and introduced Reed to a wider popular audience (specifically in the U.K.). The hit single “Walk on the Wild Side” was an ironic yet affectionate 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.”[28]

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. The song came about as a result of his commission to compose a soundtrack to a theatrical adaptation of Nelson Algren‘s novel of the same name, though the play failed to materialize. Ronson’s arrangements brought out new aspects of Reed’s songs. “Perfect Day,” for example, features delicate strings and soaring dynamics. It was rediscovered in the 1990s and allowed Reed to drop “Walk on the Wild Side” from his concerts.

Though Transformer would prove to be Reed’s commercial and critical pinnacle, there was no small amount of resentment in Reed devoted to the shadow the record cast over the rest of his career. An argument between Bowie and Reed ended their working relationship for several years, though its subject is not known. The two reconciled some years later, and Reed performed with Bowie at the latter’s 50th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden in 1997.[29] They would not formally collaborate again until 2003’s The Raven. Touring in support of Transformer posed the challenge of forming a band for the first time since joining the Velvets. Reed took the simple path of hiring an inexperienced bar band, the Tots. Reed spent much of 1972 and the winter of 1973 on the road with them. Though they improved over the months, criticism of their still-basic abilities ultimately led Reed to fire them mid-tour. He chose keyboardist Moogy Klingman to come up with a new five-member backing band on barely a week’s notice. Thus the tour continued through the spring with a denser, bluesier and tighter sound that presaged the very successful live albums Reed would record with all different musicians in December.[30]

Reed followed Transformer with the darker Berlin, a concept album about two junkies in love in the titular city. The songs variously concern domestic abuse (“Caroline Says I,” “Caroline Says II”), drug addiction (“How Do You Think It Feels”), adultery and prostitution (“The Kids”), and suicide (“The Bed”). Reed’s late-1973 European tour, featuring dual lead guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, mixed his Berlin material with older numbers.

After Berlin came two albums in 1974, Sally Can’t Dance, and a live record Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, which contained performances of the Velvet Underground songs “Sweet Jane” and “Heroin” became his biggest selling album. Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, and its follow-up released in early 1975 Lou Reed Live, primarily featuring live Transformer material, were both recorded at the same show (Academy Of Music, NYC December 21, 1973), and kept Reed in the public eye with strong sales. The later expanded CD version of Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal taken together with Lou Reed Live are the entirety of the show that night, although not in the running order it was performed.

“Lou Reed doesn’t just write about squalid characters, he allows them to leer and breathe in their own voices, and he colors familiar landscapes through their own eyes. In the process, Reed has created a body of music that comes as close to disclosing the parameters of human loss and recovery as we’re likely to find. That qualifies him, in my opinion, as one of the few real heroes rock & roll has raised.”

—Mikal Gilmore, Rolling Stone, (1979)[31]

As he had done with Berlin after Transformer, in 1975 Reed responded to commercial success with a commercial failure, a double album of electronically generated audio feedback, Metal Machine Music. Critics interpreted it as a gesture of contempt, an attempt to break his contract with RCA or to alienate his less sophisticated fans. But Reed claimed that the album was a genuine artistic effort, even suggesting that quotations of classical music could be found buried in the feedback. Lester Bangs declared it “genius,” though also as psychologically disturbing. The album was reportedly returned to stores by the thousands after a few weeks.[32] Though later admitting that the liner notes’ list of instruments is fictitious and intended as parody, Reed maintains that MMM was and is a serious album. He has since stated though that at the time he had taken it seriously, he was also “very stoned”.[citation needed] In the 2000s it was adapted for orchestral performance by the German ensemble Zeitkratzer.

Reed with Patti Smith in the late 1970s. He performed, unannounced, at several of her concerts, and worked with her at the same recording studio in 1977.

By contrast, 1975’s Coney Island Baby was mainly a warm and mellow album, though for its characters Reed still drew on the underbelly of city life. At this time his lover was a transgender woman, Rachel, mentioned in the dedication of “Coney Island Baby” and appearing in the photos on the cover of Reed’s 1977 “best of” album, Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed. While Rock and Roll Heart, his 1976 debut for his new record label Arista, fell short of expectations, Street Hassle (1978) was a return to form in the midst of the punk scene he had helped to inspire. Reed was dismissive of punk, however, and rejected any affiliation with it. “I’m too literate to be into punk rock . . . The whole CBGB‘s, new Max’s thing that everyone’s into and what’s going on in London—you don’t seriously think I’m responsible for what’s mostly rubbish?”[33]

In 1978 Reed released his third live album, Live: Take No Prisoners, which some critics thought was his “bravest work yet,” while others considered it his “silliest.”[31] Rolling Stone described it as “one of the funniest live albums ever recorded [with] Lou’s dark-humored, Lenny Bruce-like monologues. Reed felt it was his best album:

You may find this funny, but I think of it as a contemporary urban-blues album. After all, that’s what I write—tales of the city. And if I dropped dead tomorrow, this is the record I’d choose for posterity. It’s not only the smartest thing I’ve done, it’s also as close to Lou Reed as you’re probably going to get, for better or for worse.[31]

The Bells (1979) featured jazz musician Don Cherry, and was followed the next year by Growing Up in Public with guitarist Chuck Hammer. Around this period he also appeared as a sleazy record producer in Paul Simon‘s film One Trick Pony. Reed also played several unannounced one-off concerts in tiny downtown Manhattan clubs with the likes of Cale, Patti Smith, and David Byrne during this period. Reed and Patti Smith both worked at Record Plant in 1977 at the same time, each trying to complete albums. Bruce Springsteen was also at the studio working on finishing his Darkness on the Edge of Town album.[34]


In 1980, Reed married British designer Sylvia Morales.[35] They were divorced more than a decade later. While together, Morales inspired Reed to write several songs, particularly “Think It Over” from 1980’s Growing Up in Public and “Heavenly Arms” from 1982’s The Blue Mask with bassist Fernando Saunders.[citation needed] After Legendary Hearts (1983) and New Sensations (1984) fared adequately on the charts, Reed was sufficiently reestablished as a public figure to become spokesman for Honda motorcycles.

In the early 1980s, Reed worked with a number of innovative guitarists including Chuck Hammer and Robert Quine. Hammer appeared on Growing Up in Public (1980) and Quine appeared on The Blue Mask (1982), and Legendary Hearts (1983). It was through working with both of these guitarists that Reed regained his sense of sonic experimentation.[citation needed]

On September 22, 1985, Reed performed at the first Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois. He performed “Doin’ The Things That We Want To”, “I Love You, Suzanne”, “New Sensations” and “Walk on The Wild Side” as his solo set, later playing bass for Roy Orbison during his set. In June 1986, Reed released Mistrial (co-produced with Fernando Saunders), a more commercial album than previous records. To support the release, he released two music videos: “No Money Down” and “The Original Wrapper“.

At the same time of Mistrial’s release, he joined Amnesty International‘s A Conspiracy of Hope Tour and was outspoken about New York’s political issues and personalities. He would later use this experience on the 1989 album New York, commenting on crime, AIDS, Jesse Jackson, Kurt Waldheim, and Pope John Paul II.

Following Warhol’s death after routine surgery in 1987, Reed again collaborated with John Cale on the biographical Songs for Drella, Warhol’s nickname. The album marked an end to a 22-year estrangement from Cale. On the album, Reed sings of his love for his late friend, but also criticizes both the doctors who were unable to save Warhol’s life and Warhol’s would-be assassin, Valerie Solanas.


In 1990, following a twenty-year hiatus, the Velvet Underground reformed for a Fondation Cartier benefit in France. Reed released his sixteenth solo record, Magic and Loss, in 1992, an album about mortality, inspired by the death of two close friends from cancer. In 1993, the Velvet Underground again reunited and toured throughout Europe, although plans for a North American tour were cancelled following another falling out between Reed and Cale. In 1994, Reed appeared in A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who, also known as Daltrey Sings Townshend. This was a two-night concert at Carnegie Hall produced by Roger Daltrey in celebration of his fiftieth birthday. In 1994, a CD and a VHS video were issued, and in 1998 a DVD was released. Reed performed a radically rearranged version of “Now And Then” from Psychoderelict.

In 1996, the Velvet Underground were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremony, Reed performed a song entitled “Last Night I Said Goodbye to My Friend” alongside former bandmates John Cale and Maureen Tucker, in dedication to Velvet Underground guitarist Sterling Morrison, who had died the previous August. Reed has since been nominated for the Rock Hall as a solo artist twice, in 2000 and 2001, but has not been inducted.[36]

His 1996 album, Set the Twilight Reeling, met with a lukewarm reception, but 2000’s Ecstasy drew praise from most critics. In 1996, Reed contributed songs and music to Time Rocker, an avant-garde theatrical interpretation of H.G. WellsThe Time Machine staged by theater director Robert Wilson. The piece premiered in the Thalia Theater, Hamburg, Germany, and was later also shown at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.[37]

In 1998, the PBS TV show American Masters aired Timothy Greenfield-Sanders‘ feature documentary Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart. This film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. and at the Berlin Film Festival in Germany went on to screen at over 50 festivals worldwide. In 1999, the film and Reed as its subject received a Grammy Award for best long form music video.

Since the late 1990s, Reed has been romantically linked to the musician, multi-media and performance artist Laurie Anderson, and the two have collaborated on a number of recordings together. Anderson contributed to “Call On Me” from Reed’s project The Raven, to the tracks “Baton Rouge” and “Rock Minuet” from Reed’s Ecstasy, and to “Hang On To Your Emotions” from Reed’s Set the Twilight Reeling. Reed contributed to “In Our Sleep” from Anderson’s Bright Red and to “One Beautiful Evening” from her Life on a String. They married on April 12, 2008.[38]


2000 to 2003

Reed performing in Portland, Oregon, in January 2004

In May 2000, Reed performed before Pope John Paul II at the Great Jubilee Concert in Rome. In 2000, a new collaboration with Robert Wilson called “POEtry” was staged at the Thalia Theater in Germany. As with the previous collaboration “Time Rocker,” “POEtry” was also inspired by the works of a 19th-century writer: Edgar Allan Poe. Reed became interested in Poe after producer Hal Willner suggested he read some of Poe’s text at a Halloween benefit he was curating at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn.[39] For this new collaboration, Reed reworked and rewrote some of Poe’s text and included some new songs based on the theme explored in the texts. In 2001, Reed made a cameo appearance in the movie adaptation of Prozac Nation. On October 6, 2001, the New York Times published a Reed poem called Laurie Sadly Listening in which he reflects upon the September 11 attacks.[40]

Incorrect reports of Reed’s death were broadcast by numerous U.S. radio stations in 2001, caused by a hoax email (purporting to be from Reuters) which said he had died of a drug overdose. In 2003, he released a 2-CD set, The Raven, based on “Poe-Try.” Besides Reed and his band, the album featured actors and musicians including singers David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Antony Hegarty, saxophonist Ornette Coleman, and actors Elizabeth Ashley, Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi, Willem Dafoe, Amanda Plummer, Fisher Stevens and Kate Valk. The album consisted of songs written by Reed and spoken-word performances of reworked and rewritten texts of Edgar Allan Poe by the actors, set to electronic music composed by Reed. At the same time a single disc CD version of the albums, focusing on the music, was also released.

A few months after the release of The Raven, a new 2-CD Best Of-set was released, entitled NYC Man (The Ultimate Collection 1967-2003), which featured an unreleased version of the song “Who am I” and a selection of career spanning tracks that had been selected, remastered and sequenced under Reed’s supervision. In April 2003, Reed embarked on a new world tour supporting both new and released material, with a band including cellist Jane Scarpantoni and singer Antony Hegarty. During some of the concerts for this tour, the band was joined by Master Ren Guangyi, Reed’s personal T’ai Chi instructor, performing T’ai Chi movements to the music on stage. This tour was documented in the 2004 double-disc live album Animal Serenade, recorded live at The Wiltern in Los Angeles.

In 2003, Reed released his first book of photographs, Emotions in Action. This work was made up out of two books, a larger A4-paper sized called Emotions and a smaller one called Actions which was laid into the hard cover of the former. After Hours: a Tribute to the Music of Lou Reed was released by Wampus Multimedia in 2003.

In 2003, Reed was also a judge for the third annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers.[41]

2004 to 2006

Reed performing in Málaga, Spain, July 21, 2008.

In 2004, a Groovefinder remix of his song, “Satellite of Love” (called “Satellite of Love ’04”) was released. It reached No. 10 in the UK singles chart. Also in 2004, Reed contributed vocals and guitar to the track “Fistful of Love” on I Am a Bird Now by Antony and the Johnsons. In 2005, Reed recorded a spoken word text on Danish rock band Kashmir‘s album No Balance Palace.

In January 2006, a second book of photographs, Lou Reed’s New York, was released.[42] At the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, Reed performed “White Light/White Heat” with The Raconteurs. Later in the night, while co-presenting the award for Best Rock Video with Pink, he exclaimed, apparently unscripted, that “MTV should be playing more rock n’ roll.”

In October 2006, Reed appeared at Hal Willner’s Leonard Cohen tribute show “Came So Far For Beauty” in Dublin, beside the cast of Laurie Anderson, Nick Cave, Antony, Jarvis Cocker, Beth Orton, and others. According to the reports, he played a heavy metal version of Cohen’s “The Stranger Song.”[43] He also performed “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong” and two duets—”Joan of Arc“, with Cohen’s former back-up singer Julie Christensen, and “Memories”—in a duet with Anjani Thomas.

In December 2006, Reed played a first series of show at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Brooklyn, based on his 1973 Berlin song cycle. Reed was reunited on stage with guitarist Steve Hunter, who played on the original album as well as on Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, as well as joined by singers Antony Hegarty and Sharon Jones, pianist Rupert Christie, a horn and string section and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The show was produced by Bob Ezrin, who also produced the original album, and Hal Willner. The stage was designed by painter Julian Schnabel and a film about protagonist “Caroline” directed by his daughter, Lola Schnabel, was projected to the stage. A live recording of these concerts was also published as a film (directed by Schnabel) which was released in 2008. The show was also played at the Sydney Festival in January 2007 and throughout Europe during June and July 2007. The album version of the concert, entitled Berlin: Live At St. Ann’s Warehouse, was released in 2008.

2007 to 2009

Reed performing the Berlin album in Stockholm, Sweden, 2008.

In April 2007, he released Hudson River Wind Meditations, his first record of ambient meditation music. The record was released on the Sounds True record label and contains four tracks that were said to have been composed just for himself as a guidance for T’ai Chi exercise and meditation. In May 2007, Reed performed the narration for a screening of Guy Maddin‘s silent film The Brand Upon the Brain. In June 2007, he performed live at the Traffic Festival 2007 in Turin, Italy, a five-day free event organized by the city.

In August 2007, Reed went into the studio with the Killers in New York City to record “Tranquilize,” a duet with Brandon Flowers for the Killers’ b-side/rarities album, called Sawdust. During that month, he also recorded guitar for the Lucibel Crater song “Threadbare Funeral” which appears on their album The Family Album. In October 2007, Reed gave a special performance in the Recitement song “Passengers.” The album combines music with spoken word. The album was composed by Stephen Emmer and produced by Tony Visconti. Hollandcentraal was inspired by this piece of music and literature, which spawned a concept for a music video. On October 1, 2008, Reed joined Richard Barone via projected video on a spoken/sung duet of Reed’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” with cellist Jane Scarpantoni, in Barone’s FRONTMAN: A Musical Reading at Carnegie Hall.

On October 2 and 3, 2008, he premiered his new group, which later was named Metal Machine Trio, at REDCAT (Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Los Angeles). The live recordings of the concerts were released under the title The Creation of the Universe. The Trio features Ulrich Krieger (saxophone) and Sarth Calhoun (electronics), and plays free improvised instrumental music inspired by Reed’s 1975 album Metal Machine Music. The music ranges from ambient soundscapes to free rock to contemporary noise. The trio played further shows at New York’s Gramercy Theater in April 2009, and appeared as part of Reed’s band at the 2009 Lollapalooza, including a ten-minute free trio improvisation.[44] At Lollapalooza, held in Chicago’s Grant Park, Reed played “Sweet Jane” and “White Light/White Heat” with Metallica at Madison Square Garden as part of the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on October 30, 2009.[45][46] Reed provided the voice of Maltazard, the villain in the 2009 Luc Besson animated film, Arthur and the Vengeance of Maltazard, and played the role of himself in Wim Wenders’ movie Palermo Shooting (2008).

In 2009, Reed became an active member of the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA).[47] He was a featured performer at the JFA’s annual benefit “A Great Night in Harlem” in May 2009.[48]


Reed remained active doing benefits and composing music. He contributed vocals on the third Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach, on the song “Some Kind Of Nature” [49] and co-wrote and performed backup music for a Chen Style T’ai Chi instructional DVD.[50] He had a co-production credit on Laurie Anderson’s Homeland.

Reed performed a cover of the Buddy Holly song “Peggy Sue” which is featured on the tribute album Rave On Buddy Holly.

In 2010, French/American underground electronic recording artist, Uffie used an instrumental sample of The Velvet Underground track “Rock & Roll” for her debut album’s title track “Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans“. Before the release of the album there was a conflict between Uffie and Reed as to who would be credited as the writer of the track. Reed would only allow her to use the sample if she called “Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans” an adaptation of “Rock & Roll” and he received sole credit as songwriter for the track. This dispute delayed the album by six months and Uffie labeled Reed as “fucking difficult”.[51][52]

Reed began touring with the Metal Machine Trio, which was widely viewed as a return to his exploration of noise and sound. In 2011, heavy metal band Metallica recorded a full length collaboration with Reed entitled Lulu, released on November 1 in North America and October 31 everywhere else.[53]

In January 2012, Reed and John Cale sued the Andy Warhol Foundation for the license to use the yellow banana image from Warhol’s art for The Velvet Underground & Nico album.[54]

Reed contributed vocals to the track “The Wanderlust” on Metric‘s 2012 album Synthetica. He was a well-known supporter of the Free Tibet movement.[citation needed]

In 2012, a bilingual (French and English) book Lou Reed: Rimes/Rhymes[55] was published with a compilation of more than 300 photos of Reed, with comments from co-author Bernard Comment.


In May 2013, Reed underwent a liver transplant in Cleveland. Afterwards he claimed on his website 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.[56][57][58][59] 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.”[60]

Tributes were paid to Reed on Twitter, including Iggy Pop, Miley Cyrus, Samuel L. Jackson, Lenny Kravitz,[61] Ricky Gervais, Ryan Adams, Elijah Wood, and many others.[62][61] David Bowie posted a comment on his Facebook page saying that Reed “was a master”.[63] Rock band Pearl Jam dedicated their song “Man of the Hour” to Reed at their show in Baltimore and then covered the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man“.[64] 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'”.[65] Later, Universal Music revealed Cale’s full statement on Reed’s death:

“The news I feared the most, pales in comparison to the lump in my throat and the hollow in my stomach. Two kids have a chance meeting and 47 years later we fight and love the same way – losing either one is incomprehensible. No replacement value, no digital or virtual fill … broken now, for all time. Unlike so many with similar stories – we have the best of our fury laid out on vinyl, for the world to catch a glimpse. The laughs we shared just a few weeks ago, will forever remind me of all that was good between us.”

Former Velvet Underground drummer Mo Tucker responded by saying that Reed was “generous, encouraging and thoughtful. Working with him sometimes could be trying to some people, but never to me. I guess we learned from each other. We all learned from each other.[67] Reed became an important influence to numerous singers and songwriters, including British musician Morrissey:

He had been there all of my life. He will always be pressed to my heart. Thank God for those, like Lou, who move within their own laws, otherwise imagine how dull the world would be.[68]

Others from outside the music industry also paid their respects, including the Vatican and Salman Rushdie, who wrote, “My friend Lou Reed came to the end of his song. So very sad. But hey, Lou, you’ll always take a walk on the wild side. Always a perfect day.”[68]


With the Velvet Underground

As a solo artist



  1. Jump up ^ Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side: The Stories Behind the Songs, Chris Roberts and Lou Reed, 2004, Hal Leonard, ISBN 0-634-08032-6
  2. Jump up ^ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2000). “The Velvet Underground”. Archived from the original on June 29, 2006. Retrieved September 15, 2006.
  3. Jump up ^ Sam Jones; Shiv Malik (27). “Lou Reed, lead singer of Velvet Undergound, dies aged 71”. Guardian. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  4. Jump up ^ Richie Unterberger & Greg Prato (2005). “Lou Reed Biography”. Retrieved September 15, 2006.
  5. Jump up ^ Lou Reed“. The Guardian. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  6. Jump up ^ McPhedran, Ian (December 2010). “QRD interview with Ian McPhedran of Ostrich Tuning”. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  7. Jump up ^ “Lou Reed, ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ Rocker, Dies at 71”. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  8. Jump up ^ Lou Reed: The Stories Behind the Songs, Chris Roberts and Lou Reed, 2004, Hal Leonard, ISBN 0-634-08032-6
  9. Jump up ^ “Lou Reed Facts, information, pictures | articles about Lou Reed”. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  10. Jump up ^ The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk – Steven Lee Beeber – Google Books. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  11. Jump up ^ “The Gospel According to Lou: Interview with Lou Reed,” by Gabriella, (November 1998). Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  12. Jump up ^ “Lou Reed’s paradoxical Jewishness”, Times of Israel, October 27, 2013
  13. ^ Jump up to: a b “Lou Reed and Julian Schnabel”. Spectacle. Season 1. Episode 2. 2008.
  14. Jump up ^ Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side: The Stories Behind the Songs, Chris Roberts and Lou Reed, 2004, Hal Leonard, ISBN 0-634-08032-6
  15. Jump up ^ “Lou Reed Lived and Died with a Broken Heart,” by Todd McFliker (October 27, 2013). Retrieved Oct 27, 2013.
  16. ^ Jump up to: a b Colin, Chris. “Lou Reed –”. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
  17. Jump up ^ McNeil, Legs; McCain, Gillian, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, Grove Press, (1996). Cf. pp.3–4
  18. Jump up ^ “Music: Lou Reed’s Nightshade Carnival”. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  19. Jump up ^ David Fricke, liner notes for the Peel Slowly and See box set (Polydor, 1995)
  20. Jump up ^ “Statement from Syracuse University Regarding the Passing of Lou Reed”. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  21. ^ Jump up to: a b “Rock and Roll Heart”, documentary on the life of Lou Reed, American Masters
  22. Jump up ^ “Velvet Underground and Nico” (1967), album cover notes and record label.
  23. Jump up ^ Interview in Rolling Stone Magazine Nov/Dec 1987: Twentieth Anniversary Issue
  24. Jump up ^ Black, Johnny. Time Machine: Velvet Underground (1997), Mojo Magazine
  25. Jump up ^ Nelson, Paul. Rolling Stone, June 5, 1975 p. 60
  26. Jump up ^ “BBC – Music – Review of The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico (Deluxe Edition)”. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  27. ^ Jump up to: a b c Holden, Stephen. Rolling Stone magazine, May 25, 1972 p. 68
  28. Jump up ^ David Bowie, Patti Smith and others discuss Lou Reed’s music and Transformer, video, 5 min.
  29. Jump up ^ “”David Bowie 50th Birthday with Lou Reed””. 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  30. Jump up ^ Bershaw. “Concert Summary: May 2, 1973”. Wolfgangs Vault. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  31. ^ Jump up to: a b c Gilmore, Mikal. “Lou Reed’s heart of darkness”, Rolling Stone magazine, March 22, 1979 pp. 8, 12
  32. Jump up ^ Lou Reed interview with Anthony DeCurtis at the 92nd Street Y New York on September 18, 2006
  33. Jump up ^ Waiting For The Man – A Biography of Lou Reed. Jeremy Reed, 1994 Picador p.156
  34. Jump up ^ Dolan, Marc. Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ‘n’ Roll, W. W. Norton & Company (2013) p. 160
  35. Jump up ^ Sandall, Robert (February 9, 2003). “Lou Reed: Walk on the mild side”. The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  36. Jump up ^[dead link]
  37. Jump up ^ Pareles, Jon (November 14, 1997). “NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL REVIEW/MUSIC; Echoes of H. G. Wells, Rhythms of Lou Reed”. The New York Times.
  38. Jump up ^ Aleksander, Irina (April 23, 2008). “Morning Memo: Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson Make it Legal”. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  39. Jump up ^ : Lou Reed : Lou Reed’s Obsession With Edgar Allan Poe Spawns The Raven – Rhapsody Music Downloads[dead link]
  40. Jump up ^ “War Poems”. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  41. Jump up ^ “Independent Music Awards – Past Judges”. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  42. Jump up ^ Lou Reed’s New York [dead link]
  43. Jump up ^ “Came so Far For Beauty At The Point Theatre, Dublin, October 4 and 5, 2006”,
  44. Jump up ^ “Rolling Stone review of the Metal Machine Trio concert at the Gramercy in New York”. October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  45. Jump up ^ “Lou Reed at Lollapalooza 2009”. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  46. Jump up ^ “BLABBERMOUTH.NET – METALLICA With OZZY, LOU REED, RAY DAVIES At ROCK HALL Concert: More Video Footage Available”. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  47. Jump up ^ 2009-13-10. URL: Accessed: 2009-13-10. (Archived by at
  48. Jump up ^ 2009-13-10. URL: Accessed: 2009-13-10. (Archived by at
  49. Jump up ^ Lynskey, Dorian (June 26, 2010). “Gorillaz at Glastonbury 2010”. The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on June 18, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  50. Jump up ^ Ching, Gene. “Lou Reed on TaiChi”. KUNGFUMAGAZINE.COM.
  51. Jump up ^ Hudson, Alex (July 16, 2010). “Uffie Labels Lou Reed “Fucking Difficult””. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  52. Jump up ^ “Uffie: ‘Lou Reed was f***ing difficult’ – Music News”. Digital Spy. July 15, 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  53. Jump up ^ “Secret Recording Project?”. Metallica. June 15, 2010. Archived from the original on June 18, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  54. Jump up ^ Jeffrey, Don (January 12, 2012). “Velvet Underground Sues Warhol Over Banana Design”. Bloomberg.
  55. Jump up ^ “Lou Reed . Rimes Rhymes”. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  56. Jump up ^ Ratliff, Ben (October 27, 2013). “Outsider Whose Dark, Lyrical Vision Helped Shape Rock ’n’ Roll”. The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  57. Jump up ^ “Lou Reed, Velvet Underground Leader and Rock Pioneer, Dead at 71”. Rolling Stone. October 27, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  58. Jump up ^ Sam Jones and Shiv Malik. “Lou Reed, lead singer of Velvet Undergound, dies aged 71 | Music”. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  59. Jump up ^ “BBC News – Lou Reed, Velvet Underground frontman, dies at 71”. BBC Online. October 27, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  60. Jump up ^
  61. ^ Jump up to: a b USA Today, Lou Reed, Fans from Miley Cyrus to Lenny Kravitz had something to say about Lou Reed. Retrieved on October 27, 2013
  62. Jump up ^ Sherwell, Philip (October 27, 2013). “Lou Reed dies aged 71”. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  63. Jump up ^ David Bowie leads tributes to ‘master’ Lou Reed Retrieved on October 28, 2013
  64. Jump up ^ After 23 Years Pearl Jam Finally Comes to Baltimore Retrieved on October 28, 2013
  65. Jump up ^ Wile, Rob (October 27, 2013). “Here’s Velvet Underground Co-Founder John Cale’s Reaction To Lou Reed’s Passing”. Business Insider. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  66. Jump up ^ “John Cale Remembers Friend Lou Reed: ‘We Have the Best of Our Fury Laid Out on Vinyl'”. The Hollywood Reporter. October 27, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  67. Jump up ^ “Rock legend Lou Reed dies at 71”. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  68. ^ Jump up to: a b “Vatican leads tributes to Lou Reed”, The Telegraph, Oct. 28, 2013

External links


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