Lots of great writing has been done about Freeport, New York’s Lou Reed in the day since his death. The Chicago Tribune equates Reed’s importance to The Beatles or Bob Dylan. That’s a bit of a stretch, but to even make the claim illustrate’s Reed’s importance. Here are the first three paragraphs of the piece:
Lou Reed never had quite the notoriety or sales of ’60s peers such as the Beatles or Bob Dylan — his only major commercial hit was “Walk on the Wild Side.” But his influence was just as vast, if not more so. Punk, post-punk and most strains of underground music of the last 40 years would not exist without the one-of-a-kind merger of music and words pioneered by Reed and his groundbreaking band, the Velvet Underground.
Reed died Sunday at 71 in Southampton, N.Y., of an ailment related to a liver transplant he underwent in May, his literary agent said.
He leaves behind one of the most profound musical legacies of any 20th Century artist. His lyrics suggested a new kind of street poetry, at once raw and literary. His music — conceived with John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker in the Velvet Underground — merged primitivism with sophisticated avant-garde ideas. The Velvets made four landmark studio albums before crumbling in 1970, each a template for the underground music to follow. The artists in their debt include R.E.M., David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, the Talking Heads, Roxy Music, U2 and Patti Smith, and stretch from Iceland (Bjork) to South America (Os Mutantes). In an interview with the Tribune in 1990, Roxy Music founder Brian Eno reiterated his famous remark about the Velvets — “Only a few thousand people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but every one of them formed a band” — and embellished it: “I should know. I was one of those people.” (Continue Reading…)
Here is a nice short bio of Reed at Ultimate Classic Rock:
Lou Reed got his start in the ‘60s fronting the Velvet Underground, the influential noise-rock band that was a commercial bomb but has since become one of rock’s most important groups. After making four terrific albums with the band, Reed launched a solo career in the ‘70s that yielded two classics: 1972’s ‘Transformer’ (produced by pal David Bowie) and the following year’s ‘Berlin,’ a difficult but rewarding song cycle – a pattern Reed would follow over the years. He hasn’t always made the most listener-friendly music (despite scoring a Top 20 hit with ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ in 1972), angering and frustrating fans along the way: 1975’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ is often named one of the worst records ever made by a major artist, and Reed’s 2011 collaboration with Metallica, ‘Lulu,’ didn’t fare much better. But few artists have explored the sonic and lyrical territories Reed has braved for almost 50 years. (Continue Reading…)
Above is “Sweet Jane” recorded in 1974 in Paris and below is “Dirty Boulevard” from David Sanborn’s program “Night Music” in 1989.