Rocker Lou Reed of Velvet Underground dies at 71

Sun Oct 27, 2013 5:22pm EDT
 
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By Jonathan Allen and Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lou Reed, the pioneering songwriter and musician behind the Velvet Underground, one of the most influential rock bands which fused art and music in collaboration with artist Andy Warhol, died on Sunday at the age of 71, his literary agent said.

Reed died at a home he shared in Long Island, New York, with his wife Laurie Anderson following complications from a liver transplant he had earlier this year, Andrew Wylie, the agent, said.

"I think Lou was as great an artist as it was possible to be," Wylie said. "It's a great loss."

While the Velvet Underground never achieved great commercial success, the band revolutionized rock in the 1960s and 70s with a mixture of thrashing guitar licks and smooth melodies sung by Reed or the sultry German model Nico, who briefly collaborated with the band at Warhol's insistence.

The band has long been recognized as a major musical influence on punk art and rock, as reflected in a quote often attributed to musician Brian Eno: "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."

John Cale, who co-founded the Velvet Underground but had a sometimes fractious relationship with his former bandmate, released a statement on his Facebook page: "The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet…I've lost my 'school-yard buddy'," he said.

Cale and Reed put aside their differences to release a tribute album to Warhol in 1990 called 'Songs for Drella', which lead to a handful of reunion performances of the Velvet Underground's original line-up in the early 1990s.

Musician Iggy Pop's official Twitter account called the news "devastating", while musician Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth tweeted: "So sorry to hear of Lou Reed's passing this is a huge shock!"   Continued...

 
Lou Reed of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Trio performs during their "A Night of Deep Noise" concert in Palma de Mallorca April 30, 2010. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo