Velvet Underground leader who later went out and did solo stuff. Worked with David Bowie in the 70s. His songs covered topics as wacky as transvestites to drug users to just normal people.

"Wanted, Dead or Alive, for turning an entire generation of America's youth into faggot junkies."

Lewis Reed, Godfather of Punk, Born in March of 1942, in Brooklyn, NY, he released his first single at the age of 15, from which he made a whole $0.70. Now well on his way on the road to fame and stardom, he briefly attended NYU, and met Delmore Schwartz and Sterling Morrison when he dropped out to attend Syracuse a year later. After graduation, he worked for a while at Pickwick records as a song writer, but soon formed The Velvet Underground; really, his history until 1970 is inseparable from the group and Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable, and so is much better told there.

Unlike the rest of the Velvets, he almost immediately continued in a succesful solo career, and still tours today, still writing about depression, drugs, and whatever else pops into his head. A brief, very incomplete (a complete list would run for pages) solo discography includes:

There are, of course, countless other live and compilation albums.

Some of this (the discography) was compiled from his shamelessly self-aggrandizing website,, with a smattering of liner notes and the booklet that came with the 1995 Velvet Underground boxed set.

Editor's note: Lou Reed died on October 27, 2013.

Lou Reed is also the title of Victor Bockris' biography of the man himself, which is an excellent read. It doesn't paint too pretty a picture of the man himself, but the detail of the VU, of the chaos around Lou's solo career, and the turmoil of his personal life, is incredibly compelling.

Also, although the song Heroin forever linked him to that drug, Lou Reed is a common name given to speed or amphetamines (especially in Melbourne, according to my sources, where speed is called "Lou" or "Louie"), which was really his drug of choice during the late sixties and most of the 70's.

There's way, way, way too much for me to write about Lou here, so if you're interested, buy the book. You won't regret it.

As a follow-on to ailie's write-up: Later, in the 80's, Lester Bangs, who was one of the Velvets' biggest fans, advised Lou to "start shooting up again", to improve the quality of his work. Lou replied by commenting that "(Lester) is fat and has a moustache. I wouldn't shit on his nose". Go figure....

Lou Reed, as most of you are probably aware, passed away on October 27, 2013, due to complications following a liver transplant. The first thing that sprang to mind for me was a lyric from his song, Magic and Loss - "There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss just to even things out"*

Lou Reed is also the title of Lou's first solo album, released in 1972. Having broken up the Velvet Underground in 1970, Reed took some time out, moving back in with his parents and taking a regular job. However, through Danny Fields, an acquaintance of Reed's from his days on Warhol's Factory scene, Lou became a member of a salon for writers, based in the New York apartment of Lisa and Richard Robinson, called Collective Conscience; in awe of Reed, the Robinsons fawned and flattered him, eventually persuading him to start making music again.

Track Listing:

  1. I Can't Stand It
  2. Going Down
  3. Walk and Talk It
  4. Lisa Says
  5. Berlin
  6. I Love You
  7. Wild Child
  8. Love Makes You Feel
  9. Ride into the Sun
  10. Ocean
So, having signed to RCA, Lou was shipped to London, and bundled into the studio with a made-up band, featuring Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe, to record an album. Practically all the songs (apart from tracks 2, 5, 7 and 9, as far as I know) had been previously recorded with the Velvets, although never officially released until recently (mainly on VU, Another View or the Velvet Undeground boxset, Peel Slowly and See); and, it must be said, the Velvets did a much better job of them. Still, Lou Reed the album does mark the first appearance of Berlin, which is a pretty, slightly melancholy torch song (although it gains more pathos in the setting of one of Lou Reed's best albums, Berlin), and Wild Child is a great little rocker. Although later Lou would start improving on songs he had demo'd with the Velvets (especially Sad Song, off Berlin), his first album is really nothing more than a curiosity.

* - I admit to being quite gratified when Neil Gaiman used the same lyric in his pseudo-obituary on The Guardian's website. Also, thanks to avalyn for prompting this update.

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