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October 27, 2013
Lou Reed

Lou Reed as a high school senior in 1959

It is with sadness and regret that I report the passing of Lou Reed, 71, a true rock original if there ever was one. Lou was of course best known as the lead guitarist /songwriter and founding member for The Velvet Underground, which took rock music to new directions in the late 1960s. But I remember Lou more for his solo career following the breakup of the landmark group.

Lou’s live album Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal was one of my favorite recordings back in high school, thanks in large part to the electrifying eight-minute  opening track of “Sweet Jane”. I still think it’s the best intro to a rock song, and album for that matter, I’ve heard.

I always had many reasons for being a fan of Lou Reed, however, and it wasn’t all about the great music he wrote and performed during his noteworthy career. Like me, Lou was a native New Yorker. Like me, he went to college in upstate New York and studied journalism. Like my older brother John, he became an outstanding photographer.

And as I mentioned in an early post about the greatest Jewish rockers of all time, Lou was a member of the tribe.

I remember once walking around Greenwich Village sometime in the early 1980s, and my older brother John pointing out an older, smallish, tough guy in curly hair and black leather jacket crossing the street behind us. “See that guy? That’s Lou Reed,” my brother said, proudly pointing out one of the neighborhood celebrities.

I regretted not turning around that day and striking up a conversation with the rock legend. I also regret to this day not making the effort to see Lou Reed in concert. I certainly had plenty of chances with Lou was playing all the cool city clubs. A high school buddy  shared this about seeing Lou Reed perform at the Bottom Line in NYC in 1978, in support of the double live “Take No Prisoners” album:

“Seeing an artist for the first time reveals surprising elements to their personality and abilities.  Reed’s street tough persona was in full display, but most enjoyable was how accomplished he was as guitar player.  His soulful and intense guitar solos were overshadowed by his lyrics and songwriting.”

Indeed, Lou Reed, who was known for his distinctive deadpan voice, poetic lyrics and cult following, will be missed by many of us.

Thanks Lou, a real rock ‘n’ roll animal if there ever was one.

For more interesting trivia about Lou Reed and other classic rockers featured in Rocking Lyrics, click here

Now it’s your turn. What are your memories of Lou Reed and his music?


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