It was reported Sunday afternoon that rock legend and art-rock pioneer Lou Reed has passed away, the cause of which is undisclosed at this time.
Reed is best known as the vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter of late 60’s art rock trailblazers The Velvet Underground. It was there that the band began it’s close affiliation with pop artist Andy Warhol, a relationship that was often full of turmoil. In the aftermath of leaving Velvet Underground, Reed would start a long and prodigious solo career which included the release of Transformer in 1972 and Reed’s most well known song “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”, a song about his time with Warhol.
Much of Reed’s music was well ahead of it’s time, forming an aesthetic back bone for what would become punk with simplicity, dark lyrics, and a considerably more dissonant guitar sound that sounds like a closer match to grunge than to his late sixties and early seventies contemporaries. His songs often had a sleazy, gritty feel to them that reflected the urbane characters that populated his life. As a result, many bands (The Ramones and Nirvana among them) have cited Reed and the Velvet Underground as an influence on their own genre-defining styles.
Reed’s influence however, went much further than his music. The man whom many rockers have referred to as Uncle Lou exuded a sense of cool that is unparalleled among rockers in his generation. While many others in his cohort either sold out or flamed out, Lou Reed managed to do the seemingly impossible – age gracefully as a rocker, and was still considered as a titan and elder statesman in the rock community up until his death.