Lou Reed, lead singer of Velvet Underground, dies aged 71

Cover of "Coney Island Baby (Aniv)"

Cover of Coney Island Baby (Aniv)

The tributes have been pouring in for someone who’s not quite an unsung hero but who had an unimagined impact beyond the bounds of his own limited success and that has to be the tribute to his life.  Bisexuality, drink, drugs, a tormented existence I expect yet he found the energy and creativity to stimulate a resurgence in pop-rock culture. (Look for the albums in the verse)


A Wayward Walk

Turn back the clock to fifty-nine
and that crash that slashed apart
and stopped the heart of rock.
All trace of Peggy Sue, La Bamba, Chantilly lace
disappeared that day, the day the music died
until Lou Reed rekindled rock
and took us for a walk,
a wayward walk on the wild side.

A perfect day
tipping the Velvet Underground
into the progressive halls of fame,
not as the best
in commercial success
but as the catalyst, the kick-start
for a whole slew of bands
embracing the Pop Art of Warhol
in the Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

Playing a mean ostrich guitar
he took them so far, the transformer,
the metal machine man,
the Coney Island baby,
the rock’n’roll animal.
Growing up in public he gave us street hassle.
But today his battle was lost and Lou Reed died.
The bells will ring from New York to Berlin
for his walk,
his wayward walk on the wild side.


27th October 2013 – headline from the Guardian

Notes:  “Lou Reed, lead singer of Velvet Underground, dies aged 71.”  Although the Velvet Underground never achieved great commercial success, their idiosyncratic mixture of harsh guitars and smooth melodies sung by Reed or model Nico proved enduring.  The band’s influence on rock, art rock and punk was memorably summed up by Brian Eno’s observation that although the first Velvet Underground album may have sold only 30,000 copies in its first few years, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band”.  After making his name with the Velvet Underground and forming part of Andy Warhol’s Factory scene in New York, Reed entered the similarly decadent orbit of David Bowie and Iggy Pop in the early 1970s and recorded a series of seminal and sometimes challenging solo albums including Transformer, Berlin and Metal Machine Music.  A heavy drinker and drug user for many years, Reed had a liver transplant this year at the Cleveland Clinic.


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