There are times when an artist comes along that leaves an impression on music so strong that will be remembered forever. Lou Reed falls into that category of artists becoming the iconic feature he is over the past 50 years. Sadly we have learned that Mr. Lou Reed has passed away at the age of 71 years old today October 27th 2013.
A New York native, Lou Reed is most commonly associated with The Velvet Underground. The Velvet Underground started in 1964 with Reed and John Cale. The band was managed by pop artist Andy Warhol and that fit them just right with their provocative lyric style. Although the band achieved minimal commercial success during the time, to many they are one of the most influential bands during the 1960’s. Their debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) is named the 13th Greatest Album of All Time, and the “most prophetic rock album ever made” by Rolling Stone in 2003. In the following year Rolling Stone ranked the band 19th on their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list. It’s clear their presence in rock n roll and culture is recognized years after their initial forming much like most art, and in 1996 received the honor of being inducted into the Rock N Roll hall of fame.
The time in The Velvet Underground led to Reed starting a highly successful solo career. A career which has spanned over 4 decades and an impressive 22 studio albums. Perhaps one of Reed’s most memorable solo records was the 1972 Transformer album. Although some critics at the time were critical of the album it has withstood the test of time and includes two of Reed’s signature tracks in “Walk On The Wild Side” and “Satellite Of Love”.
Reed remained active and relevant over the years collaborating with many artists, and the most recognized collaboration in recent years was one with heavy metal legends Metallica. The 2001 Lulu album received a hailstorm of negativity but only time will tell how the record holds up. Reed stood by the work and stated the album was for “literal people”. Metallica were well aware of the negativity the album would bring but they believed in following their artistic visions and were proud to work with the iconic figure in Reed.
In 2012 Reed collaborated with Canadian alternative rock band Metric on the track “The Wanderlust” off their album Synethetica. Metric singer-keyboardist Emily Haines met Reed years back and being as massive a music fan as she is was honored for the opportunity to work with Reed. Cryptic Rock had the honor of seeing Reed make a surprise appearance with Metric on Stage September 24th 2012 at Radio City Music Hall to perform his collaboration with Haines.
There is no doubt Lou Reed has left his mark on music for the rest of time. With a sincere vocal and lyrical approach, his style has touched the hearts of many. A true artist does not comprise himself for the sake of commercial success and Lou Reed stayed true to that through the length of career. Maybe you know of him by name only and not his work, maybe you are a dedicated follower for years past, or maybe you just never heard of Lou Reed at all. Regardless of your knowledge of Reed or his music we should all show a great deal of respect to the man and his artistic craft. Cryptic Rock with heavy hearts say goodbye to a rock n roll pioneer. Your music will live on forever. R.I.P. Lou Reed 1942-2013.