R.I.P. Lou Reed: Velvet Underground founder dead at 71
Lou Reed has died. The rock icon's literary agent has confirmed that he passed away in Long Island due to a liver-related ailment. Reed, who was 71, had received a liver transplant in April of this year.
Lewis Allan Reed was born in Brooklyn on March 2, 1942. He was drawn to music from a young age, and made his first recording in 1956, as a member of a doo-wop group called the Jades. By the mid '60s, Reed was working as an in-house songwriter at Pickwick Records, but it wasn't until later that decade that he gained notoreity as a founding member of the Velvet Underground, an avant-garde rock band connected to pop artist Andy Warhol's Factory scene.
Reed's post-VU solo career arguably peaked in the early '70s, when he scored a hit single with 1972's "Walk on the Wild Side" and a Top 10 album with 1974's Sally Can't Dance. His record sales never reached those heights again, but Reed became a highly influential figure, especially in the alternative-rock world. His output was sometimes divisive—see his 1975 noise LP Metal Machine Music, and Lulu, his 2010 collaboration with Metallica—but he was usually given a free pass in those instances, because he was, after all, Lou Reed.
Here's Reed performing one of his best-known songs, "Sweet Jane", which first appeared on the Velvet Underground's 1970 album Loaded: