Famous guitarist with his soulless voice and very special lyrics: Who is Lou Reed?

Lou Reed, who has had a significant impact on the shaping of rock music for decades, both with the Velvet Underground band and his solo works, is an American rock and roll singer and composer.

By Jane Dickens Published on 15 Mayıs 2024 : 20:23.
Famous guitarist with his soulless voice and very special lyrics: Who is Lou Reed?

Especially when he was a member of The Velvet Underground in the 1960s, he opened new horizons for rock music and deeply influenced the genre.

He first became famous with The Velvet Underground, where he was the guitarist and vocalist. As a songwriter, he wrote songs about many taboo subjects, most notably S&M ("Venus in Furs"), transsexuals ("Lady Godiva's Operation"), prostitution ("There She Goes Again"), and drug addiction ("Heroin", "I` m Waiting for the Man") can be listed. He also brought musical innovations with his rough and different-toned guitar. His album "Transformer", released after leaving Velvet Underground, is one of the best albums in rock history.

Lewis Allan Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013) was an American musician and songwriter. He was the guitarist, singer, and principal songwriter for the rock band The Velvet Underground and had a solo career that spanned five decades. Although not commercially successful during its existence, the Velvet Underground came to be regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of underground and alternative rock music. Reed's distinctive deadpan voice, poetic and transgressive lyrics, and experimental guitar playing were trademarks throughout his long career.

He died on October 27, 2013, at the age of 71.

After rock legend Lou Reed

Born in Brooklyn in 1942, Reed was a follower of early rock'n'roll from a very young age.

He played guitar in many school bands.

After attending Syracuse University, Reed began living and writing songs in New York.

Until he met Welsh musician John Cale, with whom he formed the Velvet Underground.

The duo, who tended to combine rock music with avante-garde, included guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker.

Warhol effect

Under Reed's leadership, the band pushed the boundaries of rock 'n' roll. They added the experimental art studio and aching realism of 1960s Manhattan to Reed's solid melodic instincts.

Velvet Underground created a unique style by adding creativity in music to lyrics on dark and difficult subjects that were rarely seen in albums before.

They soon caught the attention of Andy Warhol, who became the band's manager and producer.

Warhol brought the band together with Nico, a German-born singer with a smoky voice whom he described as "the pop girl of '66", and declared them as permanent musicians of his groundbreaking studio called Factory.

The Velvet Underground soundtracked Warhol's multi-media shows, which he called Exploding Plastic Inevitable, combining the artist's visuals, dance, and live music.

But the shows were not very popular. While the Chicago Daily News published the headline "The flowers of evil have bloomed," pop singer Cher was quoted as saying, "This doesn't change anything except suicide."

Banned album

In short, Warhal's support was not very beneficial to the group. There were many who saw the group as some kind of "joke".

Rolling Stone magazine refused to include an article about the band's first album, "Velvet Underground and Nico", and New York radio banned the album because it contained lyrics about drugs and sex.

But the band remained undaunted and released four albums, including songs such as Heroin, about Lou Reed's increasing drug addiction: I'll Be Your Mirror, All Tomorrow's Parties, I'm Waiting For the Man, and Sweet Jane.

Although their music did not attract much attention outside the "underground" circles of the time, it is generally accepted today that the Velvet Underground is one of the most influential bands in the history of rock music.

Solo career

After a series of personality conflicts, Reed decided to leave the Velvet Underground in 1970 and worked for a time at his father's accounting firm.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, he completely isolated himself from the outside world during this period.

But in 1972 he emigrated to England and released his first solo album, titled simply Lou Reed.

However, it was with his second solo album Transformer that his name became established as a pioneer of rock music.

The album he made with David Bowie included classics such as Walk on the Wild Side, Satellite of Love, and Perfect Day.

Under the influence of Bowie, Reed switched to the dazzling rock image of the period and began to bleach his hair and paint his nails black.

Successive solo albums received positive reactions as well as criticism, but over the years the Velvet Underground legend gradually grew and the band's music became known to a much wider audience.

In 1990, the Velvet Underground reunited in France for a charity concert, which was followed three years later by a reunion of the entire lineup.

The foursome embarked on a European tour, but old disagreements between Reed and Cale reared their head and the tour was abruptly canceled before the North American leg.

With Metallica

Continuing his solo career in his own erratic style, Reed's latest endeavors include meditation music, talk on experimental rock, and a collaboration with heavy metal giant Metallica.

The musician also published a book in which he collected his photographs.

He was also known for giving very bad interviews.

He was against presenting musicians' lives from romantic angles. In an article he wrote in 1970, he said, "Those who hate 9-5 jobs do not know what salvation it provides people."

Yet he was passionate about his music. "I write about real things. Real people, real characters," he told Spin magazine in 2010, summarizing the lyrics: "To be impressed by what I write, you have to believe it's true, otherwise you won't pay any attention."

Reed, who used alcohol and drugs for many years, contracted hepatitis while sharing a syringe with someone else in the early 60s.

Although he broke away from his addictions over time, Reed's liver failed in 2013 and he had a liver transplant.

Reed's first marriage, to British designer Sylvia Morales, ended in divorce. In 2008, he married musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson, with whom he lived for many years.