RIP Lou Reed

Aw, shit.  Another pioneer gone.  And this is a big one.

Lou Reed started recording music back in 1957, making him one of longest-serving rock’n’roller of any stripe.  As a co-founder of the Velvet Underground, he helped invent what would later be called “alternative music.”  And while the VU hardly sold any records while they were around, there’s a saying that goes “Everyone who bought a VU record formed a band.”

Lou had a profound influence on David Bowie; part of the Ziggy Stardust character was inspired by Lou. Iggy Pop also has an apostle.  And so was Patti Smith, everyone in the Ramones, REM, New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Talking Heads, Bauhaus, Sonic Youth, the Pixies–do I need to continue?

During his life, he inflicted a lot of damage upon his body–especially in the 70s–but apparently managed to come out of that period of his life relatively unscathed.

Or so we thought.  You can’t take that kind of drug, alcohol and lifestyle abuse without your body’s warranty expiring prematurely.  So when we heard of Lou’s liver transplant earlier this year–it was done in secret back in May–not a lot of us were surprised.  The story was that he had come very close to death but by dint of his sheer grumpiness, he managed to pull through.

We were also led to believe that Lou had recovered quite well and that he and partner Laurie Anderson were going about getting their lives back to normal.

Lou died earlier today.  Details are sketchy and the official cause of death has yet to be released.  He was 71.

Rolling Stone has this obituary.  Meanwhile, kids, remember what Lou taught us:”One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.”

Originally posted on

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