Lou Reed Dies at 71 Following Liver Transplant
Alternative music suffered a huge loss this weekend.
Legendary songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed died yesterday morning on Long Island. He is survived by his second wife, the musician and performance artist, Laurie Anderson.
The causes of his death are as-yet unreleased, but the music icon underwent a liver transplant earlier this year in May and according to the Associated Press news agency, Reed’s literary agent said he died of a “liver-related ailment”.
Reed was probably best known for his work with The Velvet Underground, an avant-garde outfit formed in the ’60s who, despite failing to find wide commercial success during their formative decade, went on to be recognized as one of the most influential alternative acts in musical history. Indeed, the punk, glam and alternative rock movements of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s all owed Lou Reed a debt of influence. Over the years, Reed’s songs have been covered by the likes of REM, David Bowie, Nirvana, Patti Smith and countless others. The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Reed found some commercial success after leaving The Velvet Underground in 1970 first releasing his self-titled debut in 1972, and subsequently releasing the Bowie-produced LP Transformer later that year – which featured both “Perfect Day” and “Walk on the Wild Side” – two of his biggest hits. “Perfect Day” enjoyed a second bout of success in 1996 when it was featured in Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting”, and again a year later when it was re-recorded by a celebrity cast for a BBC charity single.
Since the news was announced yesterday, many influential musicians have responded with words of support and sadness.
Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale wrote on his website:
“The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet… I’ve lost my ‘school-yard buddy.’”
Other stars paying tribute included The Who, who tweeted: “RIP Lou Reed. Walk on the peaceful side”, while Iggy Pop said it was “devastating news”.
Marianne Faithfull also said: “He was a great friend, musician, songwriter and band leader. One of the most intelligent musicians I’ve ever known and a great guitarist. His songs will live for ever… “Perfect Day”, “Sweet Jane”… In my opinion he was a genius. I will miss him terribly.”
RIP, Lou Reed. Thank-you for the services to mine and many others’ souls.