Lou Reed: 1942-2013

October 28, 2013

Velvet Underground bandleader, songwriter and Brooklyn native Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed passed away today at the age of 71. The cause of his death has not yet been released.

Reed, who experienced success as a part of the New York rock outfit Velvet Underground as well as a solo artist, is widely cited as one of the most influential figures in rock music over the last fifty years. With Velvet Underground, Reed crafted some of the most influential albums in rock, particularly the debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico as well as 1970’s Loaded, which was covered by Phish during their 1998 Halloween show. Many still cite The Velvet Underground & Nico as one of the best debut albums ever.

As a solo artist, Lou Reed quickly made a name for himself with his first solo, self-titled effort in 1972, which featured members of progressive rock band Yes as his backing band. Always known for pushing the limits, Reed outdid himself with his second solo effort later that year, 1972’s Transformer, as the guitarist enlisted David Bowie as producer. Reed delivered radio hits “Walk on the Wild Side” as well as “Satellite of Love” with his sophomore effort.

The 1970’s saw Reed release nine studio albums, all with their own personality and flavor in typical Lou Reed style. He would go on to release twenty solo albums in all, with his last coming in the form of 2007’s Hudson River Wind Meditiations.

Reed’s last project came in 2011 when he collaborated with Metallica for Lulu.

Phish’s Trey Anastasio penned a note on Lou Reed before the band’s show in Hartford, CT tonight, where they opened with Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.” Following the performance, Anastasio asked for a moment of silence in honor of Reed:

We had the honor of playing with Lou Reed on a festival bill in Germany when we were touring with the Violent Femmes in 1992. As we were walking up onstage, Lou was sitting in the grass next to the stage. I nervously approached and said hi, and he said “go up there and show em’ how to Rock and Roll, after all, we invented it.” His comment made my head spin. The entire time we were up onstage playing I was thinking, “did he mean Americans, or him and The Velvet Underground?” Because either statement would be true. Think about it for a second… long before the Ramones, without whom there never would have been the Sex Pistols or punk music, long before Patti Smith, long before Glam, noise rock, grunge, indie, long before the Smiths, Pavement, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and on and on… there was Lou Reed.

Thank you, Lou. You are the true father of Rock and Roll. We all are forever in your debt.

– Trey Anastasio