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Lou Reed Biography
Lou Reed was often referred to as 'the godfather of punk'. When most artists in the Sixties were into the peace and love vibe, Reed was exploring the darker and seedier side of the human race with The Velvet Underground, with such uncommercial songs as 'Heroin' and 'Venus In Furs'. The Velvets could mix things up, with a harsh, rocking, almost brutal style, which influenced the punks, i.e. 'White Light/White Heat', but Reed's voice also had a tenderness about it, as on 'Lisa Says' and 'Pale Blue Eyes'. Also, with a champion such as Andy Warhol, Lou wasn't scared to experiment musically, as on the nod at a poet friend, 'European Son To Delmore Schwartz'.
Along with Iggy Pop and David Bowie (the latter being a major help in his solo career), Lou Reed's influence on the punk generation came about through his whole persona as much as his music. There was a feeling of alienation about all three men, which the disillusioned youth of the mid-late Seventies could identify with.
Born in 1942, Lou Reed began his musical career as a songwriter for Pickwick Records. He met John Cale, and they decided to put their interesting musical ideas into something concrete - and formed The Velvet Underground. The group were never commercially successful, however, and it was not until well after the 1960s had ended that gradually the Velvets began to pick up a following (they split in 1972) - especially among students. They are now lauded as one of the most influential bands of all-time. Lou Reed was the leader of The Velvet Underground, being the main lead guitarist, main vocalist, and main songwriter, though John Cale's encouragement of Reed's more offbeat musical ideas shouldn't go unrecognised. Reed was in The Velvet Underground from 1965 to 1970, before embarking on a more successful solo career.
"One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz." - Lou Reed.
Reed's 1972 'Transformer' album, produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, was one of the most acclaimed albums of the Seventies, which contained the salacious 'Walk On The Wild Side', and the simple, fantastic song that is 'Perfect Day'. Lou Reed, though, was never an artist who would go in the same direction, and the bleak 'Berlin', and very experimental 'Metal Machine Music', probably had record executives tearing their hair out - which was part of Lou's appeal. 'Songs For Drella', a collaboration with John Cale, and their tribute to Andy Warhol, was Reed's most acclaimed work since 'Transformer'.
A curmudgeonly figure to many, seemingly tough New Yorker Lou Reed was not all he appeared, and in latter years had championed environmental issues through his music. Lou Reed died on October 27th, 2013, because of liver-related issues.
- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
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