Lou Reed, guitarist and rock music pioneer, has died


Photograph of Lou Reed by Andy Warhol.

One of the greats is gone. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, poet, and artist Lou Reed has died. Reed underwent a liver transplant in May. He was 71. Update: He died of liver disease, report the New York Times and other sources.

From Rolling Stone's obituary, the first report online:

With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, he was chameleonic, thorny and unpredictable, challenging his fans at every turn. Glam, punk and alternative rock are all unthinkable without his revelatory example. "One chord is fine," he once said, alluding to his bare-bones guitar style. "Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz."

Our friends at Dangerous Minds blog have some great posts about Reed's work over the years, including the story of Rachel, a trans woman who inspired much of the work on his album "Coney Island Baby."

Video: "Black Angel's Death Song," Velvet Underground.

Video: "Walk On The Wild Side," live, 1973.

Video: Lou Reed and John Cale, "Berlin," at Bataclan in Paris, 1972.

Video: "Heroin," at Bataclan in Paris, 1972.


Lou Reed with his wife, performing artist Laurie Anderson.

Video: Probably not his favorite interview ever.

Video: The 1988 documentary Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart.

Video: "Sweet Jane," live in Paris, 1974.

Video: The Velvet Underground on "The South Bank Show," 1986.

Video: The Velvet Underground, "Rock and Roll." From the seminal proto-punk album, Loaded.

Notable Replies

  1. jerwin says:

    I don't know just where I'm going
    But I'm gonna try for the kingdom, if I can

  2. My first thought on hearing the news was of Laurie Anderson. And that picture of them together . . . aw, damn.

  3. This is horribly sad. He had a huge impact on music. The VU is still some of the freshest sounding music out there, after all these years.

    My heart goes out to Laurie Anderson most of all though. I'm sure she's heart broken.

    We actually saw her last tour and at the end, she introduced Lou Reed, and we were like in the 2nd row, and so I was like 10 feet away from Lou Fucking Reed, and they played some beautiful music, and my at the time 6 year old said "mommy who is that" and I told her Laurie Anderson's husband, Lou Reed. The next week, she brought me a painting she did at school, of what was a person, and I asked her who it was, and she said that's "Laurie Anderson's husband", so that's what we called him since. I still have that painting in my notebook...

  4. One of the best commercial jingle writers around

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