Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Punk Poet of Rock and Roll; Lou Reed, Solo Performer and Leader of the Velvet Underground, Has Died at the Age of 71. ELLEN WOOD Pays Tribute to Him

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Punk Poet of Rock and Roll; Lou Reed, Solo Performer and Leader of the Velvet Underground, Has Died at the Age of 71. ELLEN WOOD Pays Tribute to Him

Article excerpt

LOU Reed never approached the commercial success of such superstars as the Beatles and Bob Dylan, but no songwriter to emerge after Dylan so radically expanded the territory of rock lyrics.

And no band did more than the Velvet Underground to open rock music to the avant-garde - to experimental theatre, art, literature and film, to William Burroughs and Kurt Weill, to John Cage and Andy Warhol, Reed's early patron.

Reed, who was leader of the Velvet Underground and remained a vital solo performer for decades, died in New York state of an ailment related to his recent liver transplant. He had been in frail health for several months.

Reed shared a home with his wife and fellow musician Laurie Anderson, whom he married in 2008.

Indie rock essentially began in the 1960s with Reed and the Velvets. Likewise, the punk, New Wave and alternative rock movements of the 1970s, 80s and 90s were all indebted to Reed, whose songs were covered by R.E.M., Nirvana, Patti Smith and countless others.

"The first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years," Brian Eno, who produced albums by Roxy Music and Talking Heads, among others, once said. "I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!" Reed's trademarks were a monotone of surprising emotional range and power; slashing, grinding guitar; and lyrics that were complex yet conversational, designed to make you feel as if Reed were seated next to you.

Known for his cold stare and gaunt features, he was a cynic and a seeker who seemed to embody Manhattan culture of the 1960s and 70s.

Reed's New York was a jaded city of drag queens, drug addicts and violence, but it was also as wondrous as any Woody Allen comedy.

He had a huge hit with Walk On The Wild Side, and many other songs that became standards among his admirers. A cover version of Perfect Day, featuring a smorgasbord of artists, was number one in the UK for three weeks in 1997.

An outlaw in his early years, Reed would eventually perform at the White House.

The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 1996 and its debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, was added to the Library of Congress' registry in 2006. …

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