Lou Reed, quintessential rocker of the ultra-cool, died on October 27 at the age of 71.
He was an avant-garde music pioneer, as founder of The Velvet Underground and through his five-decade career, which spanned genres and defied expectations. “I want to write the Great American novel in the form of a record album,” he once said. His life pretty much accomplished that.
Lou Reed was best known for his 1973 hit “Walk on the Wild Side,” seen here in a liberated performance in Sydney, Australia in 1974. The video includes an interview in which Reed discusses drugs (he says he didn’t take any, buy the truth was otherwise), culture and fame.
Cultural Weekly reader Juliana Francis Kelly, a theatre artist who worked with Richard Foreman, posted on her Facebook page,
I’m not the only Foreman vet who cherishes the memory of Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson in the always brightly lit, see-everyone audience. Laurie Anderson watching with a sweet smile, Lou Reed falling deeply asleep the minute the play began, and not waking up until the curtain call (Foreman explaining later that “Laurie drags him to the shows.”) I never spoke to them, but was so grateful for their presence, for the proximity to true and wild art~ it was exciting. Made you feel hopeful about everything.
The Guardian posted these social media comments from his friends and contemporaries:
David Bowie said on his Facebook page: “He was a master.” Iggy Pop called it “devastating news”. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth wrote: “So sorry to hear of Lou Reed’s passing this is a huge shock!” The chef and author Anthony Bourdain quoted the Velvet Underground’s song Sweet Jane: “‘Heavenly wine and roses … seem to whisper to me … when you smile’ … RIP Lou Reed.” Lloyd Cole wrote: “Without Lou there is no Bowie as we know him. Me? I’d probably be a maths teacher.” Ryan Adams said only: “Lou Reed.”
Nile Rodgers of the funk band Chic tweeted: “Lou Reed, RIP I did the Jools Holland show with him last year and we yucked it up. I didn’t know he was ill.”
The writer Salman Rushdie opted to commemorate the singer in a message heavy with references to his songs: “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.”
You can visit Lou Reed’s official website here.
Top image: Lou Reed performing at the Hop Farm Music Festival on Saturday the 2nd of July 2011, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.