Velvet Underground co-founder was literally the godfather of modern rock ‘n’ roll as we know it. Above: o, how we loved him.
By Fred Mills
Sometimes you come home after a day away from media/electronic sources and even telephone messages, only to be overwhelmed upon your return—and a subsequent, deep sadness. That’s my reaction now, to find out (at least 8 hours late) that the mighty Lou Reed passed away today, October 27, in Southampton, NY. According to press reports, Reed’s literary agent said that the cause of death was “an ailment related to a liver transplant he underwent in May.”
Reed was 71. He’s survived by his wife, musician Laurie Anderson.
His old musical foil, sometimes sparring partner and co-founder of the Velvet Underground John Cale issued the following statement:
“The news I feared the most, pales in comparison to the lump in my throat and the hollow in my stomach. Two kids have a chance meeting and 47 years later we fight and love the same way —losing either one is incomprehensible. No replacement value, no digital or virtual fill…broken now, for all time. Unlike so many with similar stories—we have the best of our fury laid out on vinyl, for the world to catch a glimpse. The laughs we shared just a few weeks ago, will forever remind me of all that was good between us.”
I’m speechless. While Reed’s career has left me in varying stages of commentary over the years—from fawning fanboy adulation as a late-to-the-table Velvet Underground fan to a staunch fist-pumper during his Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal phase to a proud attendee during his New York comeback tour (Charlotte, Ovens Auditorium, was on the itinerary, and it left me staggered) and even to a somewhat skeptical but still curious member of the peanut gallery when he launched his Metallica Lulu summit—I will never admit to less than 1 thousand percent respect for the man, his music, and his legacy. He was a poet, he was a rocker, he was an artist, and most of all, he was a visionary.
Forget the biographical summary—let’s rock: