Rolling Stone is reporting that Lou Reed, age 71, died Sunday morning of as-yet unknown causes. Reed was a musician whose solo career was so long and varied that you almost forget he formed The Velvet Underground before embarking on his own. During his time with that band, Reed helped create albums that would influence generations of musicians to come. It is often said that while the first Velvet Underground album may only have sold 30,000 copies, everyone who bought one started a band because of it.
After Lou Reed left the Velvet Underground in 1970, he went on to a solo career that spanned several decades and spawned at least one enormous commercial hit with “Walk on the Wild Side.” Reed explored many different styles of music, chasing his muse seemingly with little regard to record sales or many of the other trappings of the music industry. His release of the avante-noise album Metal Machine Music, which may or may not have been an attempt to get out of a major label record contract, is considered by some (or at least this writer) to be one of the great punk rock moves in the history of music.
Vital to the last, Lou Reed’s final album was a collaboration with Metallica. Reed is survived by his wife, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson, who is a legend in her own right. And as many on Twitter will be quick to point out, it is perhaps fitting that Reed died on a Sunday morning.