Lou Reed Passes Away at 71

The Velvet Underground co-founder and Metallica collaborator became one of the most enduring and influential musicians of the 20th century.

Ultimate Guitar

Legendary songwriter Lou Reed passed away yesterday at the age of 71. The cause of his death is unclear, and is currently believed not to be connected to his recent liver transplant in May this year. Reed is best known in these parts for his collaboration with Metallica on the album "Lulu," but his fame began with the Velvet Underground, a counter-cultural flag point in collaboration with artist Andy Warhol. Reed was their guitarist, vocalist and lead songwriter. The band were considered a commercial failure at the time, but developed a massive following after future major artists including the likes of Brian Eno began to cite the Velvet Underground as a major influence. By 1972, Reed began a solo career which bounced from the hit like "Walk on the Wild Side" to the antagonising experimental album "Metal Machine Music." At his best, Reed wowed critics; while describing his debut solo album Rolling Stone said: "It is a voice so incapable of bullshit that it makes even an artsy arrangement work by turning the whole thing into a joyous travesty." In his later career, Reed's fame saw a resurgence when the film "Trainspotting" used his song "Perfect Day" on its soundtrack. Reed collaborated with Metallica on the theatrical score "Lulu" in 2011. The album was widely anticipated for its potential to break new ground, but was widely criticised upon its release by fans and critics alike. However, members of Metallica continue to assert that recording with Reed was one of their proudest moments. "Working with Lou Reed was such a cool, unique, and special thing for us," said guitarist Kirk Hammett last month. His ex-bandmate in the Velvet Underground John Cale wrote yesterday: "The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet ... I've lost my school-yard buddy."


— Steven Tyler (@IamStevenT) October 27, 2013

"I'm an artist and I can be as egotistical as I want to be" RIP Lou Reed

— Guns N' Roses (@gunsnroses) October 27, 2013

Haven't really accepted the reality of the loss of Lou Reed. Still trying to process it. Denial I guess.

— Slash (@Slash) October 28, 2013

RIP Lou Reed.Thank you for your beautiful/dark lyrics/music and stance on life.You inspired me from my teenage years right up till today.

— Nikki Sixx (@NikkiSixx) October 27, 2013

I love Lou reed so much. Always

— Flea (@flea333) October 27, 2013

Rest In Peace to Lou Reed. You will be missed!

— Official Motörhead (@myMotorhead) October 27, 2013

R.I.P. Lou Reed & thank you & the Velvets. U were my inspiration in the '70's, 4 without you there would have been no punk rock!

— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) October 27, 2013

Without this we wouldn't exist. RIP. http://t.co/9xBvzxuI56

— Ladytron (@LadytronMusic) October 28, 2013

134 comments sorted by best / new / date

    What a sad year it has been in deaths. Chi Cheng, Clive Burr, Jeff Hanneman, Ray Manzarek, and now Lou Reed? Damn, RIP.
    I think it's interesting how much he liked Kanye West. Hope he's jamming away off in some outer-sect of reality.
    Considering that my mom is 86 and drives herself to work as a volunteer and to do stuff she likes, I think 71 is too young to die! I was 8 when my older brother played a Velvet Underground record for me. It scared me. "Mom! Make him put Black Sabbath back on the record player!" I didn't follow Reed closely...but enough to recognize his musical genius.
    This was one musical death that really threw me for a loop - when I saw it on my feed yesterday I was pretty shocked. I don't listen to him, but I appreciate what he did for music, and it sucks that he died so suddenly. R.I.P. Lou.
    There is a giant Lou Reed sized hole in my heart today. RIP Lou, your music will continue to inspire me. Thank you.
    the velvet underground was trash and Lulu is a ****ing disgrace, good riddance. This is so reminiscent of how Michael Jackson was handled before and after his death. Months before, they had him on the cover of some magazine that said "Wacko Jacko" next to it, then after he died he was heralded as a legend and all of a sudden everyone went back to loving him, it's so ****ing transparent get off your high horse, nothing of value was lost let the downvotes commence, i'm not trolling its just so ****ing fake after reading through any comment section for an article referencing Lulu, Lou Reed is a joke in every one of them, let's be real here
    MJ was one of the most influential and popular musicians of all-time. It doesn't matter if he died, he was already a living legend before all the crazy stuff that happened later in his life. Get off your high horse. Just because you see nothing of value lost, doesn't mean everybody should. You didn't like his music, that's great, now **** off.
    Seriously dude... Obviously since there are literally THOUSANDS of people who think so highly of the man he has to have a bit of talent. Yeah you may not like him, but you don't have to be an ******* about it. Rest in peace Lou Reed. You were one of the truest musicians of all time.
    Doesn't really matter to me the works I didn't like from him. There was a lot I did enjoy and I still respected him for trying to go out there and make music. He's left his imprint on music at least. Rest in peace.
    Its too bad velvet didn't get back together that would have been great to see him perform with them, or his solo act would have been awesome to see rip.
    Head of Metal
    Very sad indeed. Well, he'll at least be jamming with Ronnie James Dio, Clive Burr, Peter Steele, Dime, and Jon Lord...
    R.I.P., Lou Reed. Another one of the greats has been called to play in the great gig in the sky.
    RIP Lou Reed. I'm guessing that now he has passed away, everyone will start praising Lulu and saying it's the greatest work of art?
    Best known for Lulu. Are you kidding?! Even 'in these parts' thats a ridiculous statement. The Velvet Underground were one of the best things to happen to music.
    Saw this last night and reminded me how inspirational and wonderful Lou's music is, shame I haven't listened to Velvet Underground in a while. The first time I heard VU was in high school and was stoned as hell and loved it...THEN I listened to it sober and lets just say I felt different about it, Took a few more listens to REALLY appreciate it but APPRECIATE IT I DID! Rest in Peace Lou.
    This is a huge loss for the music industry. I made one Lulu joke in the wake of his death which I will not post here. I will admit that I am not proud of it, because I have a tremendous amount of respect for Lou Reed. He was a true artist who didn't give a damn about what people thought of him. He only cared about expressing his emotion through his music. He was an inspiration and from Velvet Underground to Metal Music Machine, his body of work was true art. Rest In Peace Lou Reed. Your impact will never be forgotten.
    Never grasped his material too well. Still, loved some of his work. Quite especially, "Some Kind of Monster" by Gorillaz.
    "Some kind of Nature". sorry, reading the Lulu comments got Metallica in my head.
    my old man loved listening to lous stuff, personally I couldn't get into some of it however I did recognize his significance in millions of peoples musical development, he'll be missed. rest easy!
    I can't believe that UG says that Lou Reed is best known for his collaboration with metallica on lulu!!He was the greatest poet ever from the LEGENDARY Velevet Underground and again UG mentions metallica in the description of this post on the home page...
    In tomorrow's news, Metallica's members are all charged for murder!
    Whatever opinion I might have about his recent endeavours, I cannot respect this man enough for all that he contributed to music. He will forever be remembered.
    Why is this being downvoted when it says exactly what the top-rated comment says?
    It's not a sign of disrespect for Lou, people are expressing their sadness at the news by Disliking it.
    It’s strange to put into perspective how much that man has influenced everyone and what music has become, even for those who have heard of him. Everything from heavy metal, to punk, to alternative, you name it, he has had an influence on it. Had he not been around, many of your favorite bands probably hadn’t either. Like a chain of dominoes, if you look on the influences on different bands, and the influences of their influences, at some point Reed is going to show up. As Brian Eno put it; "The first Velvet underground album only sold 30,000 copies in its first five years - but I think every single one who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!" But even besides his enormous impact on music as we know it today, he was a brilliant artist, and an amazing songwriter. On a personal level, he ended up quickly going from some obscure artist in my perspective, to one of my favorite songwriters. In the darkest, shitties, most agonizing days of many peoples lives (including my own), his music gave people something that they were able to connect to, so they didn’t feel entirely lost. His entire musical attitude, of doing something completely new, solely because he just didn’t give a damn **** might have been criticized during his time, but in the end, it’s the same music magazines, and critics that scorned and scrapped him, that must now write about his amazingly long, though still too short walk on the wild side of life. Not just for me, but for everyone, for the entirety of rock music, and music in general, this is a very sad day…R.I.P Lou – You just kept us hanging on…
    SHaun Steel
    RIP to another icon, not been the best 12 months in this regard as too many of my hero's have been taken. Travel well Lou.
    We should also give Lou Reed a lot of credit, for he helped James Hetfield come out as a table. No disrespect intended. I never really properly listened to his music but it's obvious he's been a big influence and will be missed, so R.I.P.
    Ryan Domengeaux
    I was actually listening to "Venus in Furs" (Beautiful song) and scrolling through twitter when I saw a Ricky Gervais tweet that was talking about Lou Reeds death and at first I didn't believe it but after some google searches I found it to be true. Very sad start to the week RIP Lou Reed
    Now it makes sense why Lars and Kirk were talking about Lulu lately, really nice of them. Not a fan of Lou Reed , but he's definitely innovator. RIP
    I remember my mother introducing me to Lou when I was 5 or 6, she even gave me her Transformer cassette and so began my real adventure into music, rather than just sticking with whatever was on the radio or TV. Very sad loss.
    After listening to Lulu I was very curious to see what other music Lou Reed had made. Since I'm quite young I wasn't familiar with Lou Reed at all. I was very pleasantly suprised by other songs from him. R.I.P. Lou!
    Looks like all the jokes about Metallica making Lulu 2 are no longer current. 71 years old? Still had some years to live. Rest in Peace Lou Reed.
    Another artist who's albums are going to blast through my speakers again. Rock 'n Roll heaven really is creating the greatest band in the universe, taking so many great ones this year! RIP Lou, and may the LuLu haters (good album) please keep their trap shut for today.
    Time to forget all the shit he got over him the past years and remember him for the great and legendary musician he was. One of the greatest songwriters ever, RIP.