Lou Reed, frontman and co-founder of highly influential art rock band The Velvet Underground and writer of songs such as Walk On The Wild Side, Perfect Day and Sweet Jane, has died aged 71.
According to his literary agent Andrew Wylie, Reed died on Sunday at a hospital in Southampton, New York. Reed received a liver transplant back in May, and complications leading from the operation are believed to be behind his death.
The Velvet Underground are one of the most critically acclaimed groups of all time, first rising to prominence after they were plucked from obscurity by artist Andy Warhol, who paired them with German fashion model-cum-singer Nico for their now-classic The Velvet Underground & Nico album, to which Warhol also provided the iconic pop-art banana album cover.
Although initially unpopular Reed’s dry, deadpan vocals and blunt lyrics often relating to drug culture saw The Velvet Underground, co-founded by Reed with guitarist John Cale, go on to become one of the most lauded, highly cited bands of all time.
Lou Reed – Perfect Day
In 1972, Reed found the pinnacle of his commercial success as a solo artist after leaving The Velvet Underground two years earlier, releasing crossover single Walk On The Wild Side backed by Perfect Day from the album Transformer.
After a string of solo albums released to varying success The Velvet Underground were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, where Reed played alongside bandmates Cale and Maureen Tucker, dedicating Last Night I Said Goodbye to My Friend in memory of fallen band member Sterling Morrison, who had died the year before.
Born in 1942 in Brooklyn, Reed started as a songwriter for Pickwick Records, known for their soundalike recordings. His final studio effort, 2011’s collaborative effort Lulu – a spoken-word piece based on a two-part German play with instrumentation by Metallica – received mostly negative reviews from critics.
As recently as last week, it was announced that The Velvet Underground & Nico had made it into the top 5 of NME’s top 500 albums of all time.
Reed is survived by his wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson, who he married in 2008 after being romantically linked for some time.
Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side