Lou Reed, the singer/songwriter/guitarist who redefined rock and roll with the Velvet Underground, died Sunday at his home in Southampton, according to his publicist, losing a battle with liver disease. He was 71 years old.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Freeport, Reed founded the Velvet Underground in 1965 with musician John Cale. Known for their experimental, often haunting and sonically crushing art-punk-noise that came to define and embody the image, attitude and darker elements of ’60s counterculture New York, the Velvet Underground, though not commercially successful during its time, ranks as one of the most influential groups in rock and roll history, and Reed the scene and genre’s outlaw poet laureate.
The band was infamously managed by Andy Warhol and house band at his Factory.
Reed’s solo career spans decades and more than two dozen albums since his departure from the Velvets in the early 1970s, including such hits as the addictively gritty “Walk On The Wild Side” in 1972 and among his most recent projects, 2011’s spoken-word metal-noise album Lulu with Metallica.
Reed’s songs encompass subjects ranging from love and drugs to sex and street life, delivered with an intimacy and visceral clarity that thread even the most tragic and depressive storylines with strands of pure beauty. They are sincere, honest. They bleed life.
Artists, writers and musicians from Salman Rushdie to the Pixies posted online tributes to the late, great rock innovator and pioneer across social media sites Sunday, with the latter Tweeting: “R.I.P. LOU REED….A LEGEND”
“The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet,” Tweeted Cale. “I’ve lost my ‘school-yard buddy.'”