Lou Reed’s Vast And Long-Lasting Influence

As many have now heard, rock and roll legend and spiritual godfather of punk Lou Reed passed away on Sunday at a hospital in Southampton, New York, aged 71, following a period of ill-health.

Reed’s influence as a solo artist and as a member of The Velvet Underground touched countless artists and his prolific and eclectic career yielded some of the most seminal releases in popular music. “Every song we’ve ever written was a rip-off of a Lou Reed song,” claimed Bono, while Brian Eno is often quoted as saying (without any actual evidence of the proclamation), “The first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years. I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”

Whether the latter is true or not, the point remains valid – Reed’s influence was vast. Not only did he indirectly influence an entire generation of musicians, during his almost 50-year career Reed collaborated with some of the world’s most famous and iconic artists, including Pavarotti, David Bowie, and U2, evidence of how deeply respected he was in the world of music.

Here we have collected some of Reed’s best and most well-known collaborations to remember him by, as well as some footage of the man himself.

Lou Reed & Nico – Femme Fatale

One of Reed’s first collaborators, Nico, born Christa Päffgen, was a German fashion model introduced to Reed via The Velvet Underground’s manager, Andy Warhol. Femme Fatale is a classic cut from the group’s seminal 1967 release, The Velvet Underground & Nico.


Lou Reed & U2 – Satellite Of Love

As part of their groundbreaking ‘Zoo TV Tour’, U2 used pre-recorded footage of Reed singing his 1973 classic Satellite Of Love to perform a duet cover of the track. U2 also recorded a cover as the B-side to their One single and occasionally had Reed appear on stage with them during the tour.

Lou Reed & David Bowie – Waiting For The Man

Many consider Reed to be the primary inspiration behind David Robert Jones’ transformation into David Bowie. Despite what some considered plagiarism, Reed and Bowie became friends. This video comes from Bowie’s 50th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden in 1997.

BBC Charity Single – Perfect Day

In 1997, Reed appeared with some of the world’s biggest stars to help the charity Children In Need. A cover of his Transformer cut, Perfect Day, was organised by the BBC – something of an odd choice, considering the song is widely regarded as an ode to heroin – with help from Bono, Elton John, Evan Dando, Tom Jones, and more.

Lou Reed & Luciano Pavarotti – Perfect Day

Ever a genre-defying artist, Reed would constantly challenge the expectations of critics and fans. When given the opportunity to appear with the world’s most famous tenor, Reed seized it. Reed and Pavarotti performed together at the 2002 ‘Pavarotti and Friends’ concert in Modena, Italy.

Lou Reed & Gorillaz – Some Kind of Nature

Giving a nod to the 1969 Velvet Underground cut Some Kinda Love, Reed’s collaboration with digital band Gorillaz was for many a highlight of the band’s 2010 album, Plastic Beach. Reed even appeared live on stage with the band at their Madison Square Garden and Glastonbury shows.


Lou Reed & Metallica – The View

Though met with widespread critical derision and even mockery upon release, Reed’s collaboration with thrash metal’s biggest band was a quintessentially Reed-ian venture. Their 2011 collaborative album, titled Lulu, was an avant-garde mix of experimental metal, noise rock, and spoken word. The video for their single, The View, was directed by Darren Aronofsky.

Lou Reed & Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill

Similarly genre-bending and eclectic, it’s little wonder why Lou Reed found common ground with British singer and songwriter Peter Gabriel. Gabriel’s 2013 album And I’ll Scratch Yours, a companion piece to the earlier Scratch My Back, featured famous artists covering Gabriel’s songs

BONUS VIDEO: Lou Reed Interview at Sydney Airport – 1974

In 1974, Reed embarked on a tour of Australia, supported by AC/DC. Upon arrival at Sydney airport, Reed was whisked into a room full of waiting journalists. Reed, who at the time was steeped in heroin addiction, remained aloof for the duration of the now-famous interview, delivering one or two word answers in his typically dry fashion.

LOU REED – 1942-2013


You can explore more of Lou Reed’s work with this specially curated playlist from Guvera

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