RIP The Legend Lou Reed

Lou reed died on the 27th Oct '13 and the world lost a legend.

Lou Reed was a solo artist and one of the founding members of the legendary The Velvet Underground: a pioneering rock group that never found commercial success but are still hugely influential. Their first album hardly sold, but it did lead to a famous quote, that "everyone who bought it started a band": bands that are themselves legendary.

Reed's most famous solo album was made in the early 70's. Transformer featured hits Walk on the Wild Side and Perfect Day (much covered and said to really be about using Heroin), as well as my personal favourite, the delicious 'Vicious'. The album was produced by David Bowie.

Lou Reed's solo career had him dubbed the father of Punk. He wrote powerfully and poetically about life's dark underbelly. His pared down lyrics were combined with a voice that, while not technically great, carried emotion in a way that worked beautifully.

Lou Reed not only wrote about the dark side. He also lived it. As a teenager his parents sent him for electric shock treatment for his bisexuality. It affected his memory and was obviously deeply traumatic. He said it turned him into a vegetable. 

He recovered enough to study and at University, where he was taught by the Poet Delmore Schwartz, who Reed credited with teaching him that “with the simplest language imaginable, and very short, you can accomplish the most astonishing heights.” This was something he unquestionably did in his song writing. Whether he was singing about drug use, transgender, gay and bisexual characters or just the plain weird it was all sheer poetry.

Lou Reed was a one off, a unique artist who was intelligent, funny and cutting. There is a very good reason his work has influenced his fellow musician's for so long. Bowie said of Reed's music: "I had never heard anything like it. It was a revelation to me.” More recently he worked with Gorillaz and Metallica.

In May of this year he had a liver transplant and was fighting right up to the end. The cause of his death has not been released at this point.

I only knew his music, and since hearing about his death I have been playing my favourite tracks of his. There are just so damn many of them.

He may be gone, but his influence goes on.

Mairi Harris

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