Lou Reed, one of the most seminal figures of the rock era, has died of undisclosed causes at age 71, according to a report on Rolling Stone. He underwent a liver transplant in May, which may be connected to his cause of death.
From his early days with the Velvet Underground to his pioneering solo work, Reed became both a working legend and a totem of alternative culture and eternal, scowling cool. Born Lewis Allan Reed in Brooklyn in 1942, he studied journalism, film directing, and creative writing at Syracuse University and worked as a songwriter for a small record label before forming VU with original members John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker in 1964.
The Velvet Underground would essentially become the house band for Andy Warhol’s burgeoning downtown scene (he promoted them heavily, and paired them with German model/chanteuse Nico for a time), and though their 1967 debut The Velvet Underground & Nico hardly caused a ripple commercially, their sound – steeped in drugs and sex and the darker edges of bohemian excess — was hugely influential. (Brian Eno is supposedly the one who said, “Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band.”)
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