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Lou Reed

Updated on August 22, 2014
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Nerd, cinephile, TV-junky, research-loving, left-leaning, science-fiending, atheist from the gutter. Follow me on Twitter @TheGutterMonkey.

Who is Lou Reed?

To put it simply: Lou Reed is a rock legend and one of the most influential artists of his era.

Best known for his sensational band The Velvet Underground, which he formed with mulch-instrumentalist John Cale, second guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen "Moe" Tucker in New York 1965, Lewis Allan Reed (Lou) soon became a major part of the notorious artist Andy Warhol's Factory scene; which housed a great number of the most freaked and experimental artists at the time. It was during this time when the band paired up with the German singer and actress, Nico, and released their most revered album, The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967 (listed as the 13th-best album of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine).

After quitting The Velvet Underground in 1970, Lou continued his career as an influential, critically acclaimed solo artist, releasing such classic songs as Walk on the Wild Side and Perfect Day.

Lou Reed stands today as one of the most important songwriters of our time, and has served as inspiration to a multitude of artists such as David Bowie, Nick Cave, Sonic Youth, Nine Inch Nails, U2, David Byrne, and Patti Smith.

Three reasons to love Lou Reed

1.) Spent some weeks in a mental hospital in his teens, at his parents' insistence; his "treatment" included electroshock therapy and medication. Reed reflected on the experience later in songs, including "Kill Your Sons".

2.) In his 2-CD set, The Raven, Reed featured a wide range of actors and musicians, including Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi, David Bowie, and Willem Dafoe!

3.) Also on The Raven Reed literally rewrote and rejuvenated Edgar Allan Poe's narrative poem of the same name!

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Walk On The Wild Side - Live 1972
Walk On The Wild Side - Live 1972

This album which may well be Lou Reeds best live Solo album was recorded on 26th December 1972 in a New York Radio show. It showcases titles from his time with Velvet Underground as well as his later solo hits, but above all, it presents tracks from his most successful album Transformer which was produced by David Bowie and is now regarded as a classic. His band at the time were at the top of their form with brilliant ensemble guitar playing and Lou Reed himself receives a rapturous reception from his home town audience.

Lou Reed Berlin
Lou Reed Berlin

Lou Reed co-founder of The Velvet Underground and the man behind such iconic rock songs as Sweet Jane and Walk on the Wild Side stars in one of the most satisfying concert films (Lee Marshall, Screen International) in decades. Oscar-nominated director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) captures this historic moment in time, as Reed performed his legendary 1973 album, Berlin, live for the first time. Rocking horns, soulful guitar and the angelic voices of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus bring Reed s devastatingly honest lyrics to full life in this exceptionally strong performance (John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter).

Pass Thru Fire: The Collected Lyrics
Pass Thru Fire: The Collected Lyrics

Containing a body of work that spans more than three decades, Pass Thru Fire is a stunning collection of the lyrics of an American original. Through his many incarnations-from proto punk to glam rocker to elder statesman of the avant garde-Lou Reedâs work has maintained an undeniable vividness and raw beauty, fueled by precise character studies and rendered with an admirable shot of moral ambiguity. Beginning with his formative days in the Velvet Underground and continuing through his remarkable solo career-albums like Transformer, Berlin, New York, Magic and Loss, and Ecstasy-Pass Thru Fire is crucial to an appreciation of Lou Reed, not only as a consummate underground musician, but as one of the truly significant poets of our time.


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    • mojoCNYartist profile image

      Dan 4 years ago from CNY

      Lou Reed met Cale at Syracuse University, and they wrote Heroin, and a few other early songs.