Rolling Stone has reported that Lou Reed, the profoundly influential rock songwriter who was a founder of the Velvet Underground in the 1960s and went on to prolific solo career, has died. He was 71.
Earlier this year, Reed underwent what was characterized as a life saving liver transplant. In June, he wrote on his web site, "I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry...I look forward to being on stage performing, and writing more songs to connect with your hearts and spirits and the universe well into the future." But on Sunday, his literary agent Andrew Wylie confirmed that Reed died Sunday morning on Long Island of an ailment related to the transplant.
Reed had his greatest commercial success as a solo artist, and his best known song was “Walk On The Wild Side” the enduring 1972 hit produced by David Bowie that chronicled the exploits of assorted hustlers and denizens of the night at the New York club Max’s Kansas City, and whose reference to oral sex went unnoticed by Top 40 radio censors a the time.
It was fitting that Reed’s breakthrough came with a song that celebrated transgression. In his years with the Velvets - who were managed early on by pop art entrepreneur Andy Warhol, who designed the famous yellow banana cover of their 1967 Velvet Underground & Nico debut - Reed wrote songs like “Venus in Furs,” "Waiting For the Man” and “Heroin” that made rock and roll safe for junkies, prostitutes, transvestites and decadent souls of all shapes and sizes.