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Sunday, October 27, 2013

RIP Lou Reed

Iconic rock singer and poet Lou Reed died this morning after complications from a liver transplant. He was 71.

Reed's career spanned over 50 years and gave us some of the most innovative and influential music in rock. And all of it from his own unique perspective. A perspective that made him highly respected amongst fellow musicians from Bruce Springsteen to David Bowie to Metallica.

We know him best from his hits. But there's some hidden chestnuts in his early career worth exploring.

His career began in 1958 when he recorded a single with his doo-wop band The Jades "Leave Her For Me" (with Reed on lead vocals)

He went to Syracuse University, studying journalism, film directing, and creative writing and hosted a show on the campus radio station. After graduating in 1964, he went to work as a songwriter and studio musician for budget record label Pickwick Records. By day he would be playing cover versions of then contemporary pop hits for his employer's record labels.

Here he is on this hilarious barbershop quartet rendition of "Little Deuce Coupe"

He also appears on lead vocals on the song "Cycle Annie", credited to The Beachnuts.

By night he would record his own material.

   "The Ostrich/Sneaky Pete" The Primitives (1964)

"The Ostrich" actually became a minor hit in the New York City area. The Primitives included John Cale, who would join Reed in his new band, The Velvet Underground.

They met Andy Warhol and Reed quickly found his muse in him. The band was signed to Verve Records and paired with a German singer named Nico and released The Velvet Underground and Nico, which in spite of it's low initial sales, quickly became one of the most influential rock albums of all time.


The band released a few more albums before disbanding. 
 In 1972 he teamed up with David Bowie and Mick Ronson and released Transformer. It's single "Walk On The Wild Side" with it's sly lyrics and and catchy bass riff became Reed's signature hit. 

Throughout his career, Lou Reed never embodied the glamour of life in rock n' roll. But the side you rarely saw. The only side he knew. And he wasn't afraid to share the ugly details. But it was in those details that you saw the beauty of his work. And why we loved him.

He always said he wanted to make The Great American Novel, but on a record. I don't know if he ever realized it. But every one of his solo albums was that elusive novel.

Rest well Lou......

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