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

    Honey Badger
    I really hope everyone keeps Lulu out of the comments. Sure, a lot of you dislike the album, but please show some respect (in advance). Lou Reed was a very influential musician, and his entire to career shouldn't be overlooked or mocked because of one obscure album.
    I think keeping Lulu out of this may be a mistake. I think that regardless of how a lot of people feel about the album, because it involved Metallica, that ultimately it represents a very important thing about Lou Reed. He wrote music for himself and not for commercial success, and Lulu is a part of that. To throw out Lulu because the majority of people don't like it is a bit unfair to him as an artist,considering it is a part of his identity as someone who wrote music purely as an expression regardless of the critical reception it would receive.
    Read his comment again, you might have misunderstood it. He just asked for everyone to be respectful because UG is pretty notorious for Lulu-haters. Hahah
    Good point. In retrospect my tired eyes may have misread it. Anyways Lou Reed's unique personality in the music world will missed.
    Last night when I read this on blabber, I decided to put Lulu on my phone. Lars said it will age well and Howard Stern ate his words on liking it so maybe I just need to hear it again.
    What this bloke said. And without the Velvet Underground, a lot of music we know and love might not exist today. RIP you legend.
    There is no denying the musical genius of all the Velvet Underground albums featuring Reed, as well as Reed's Transformer album and many of his other solo albums. If you've never heard them before do yourself a favor and listen to The Velvet Underground & Nico start to finish without distraction, it will send you on a ride. Lulu as a Lou Reed album is up to par of many of his works imo. The mistake people made when listening/reviewing it was treating like a Metallica album, Metallica aren't even a tenth as experimental as Lou Reed, or John Cale for that matter. Therefore it's to be expected that it wouldn't click well for people not into Avant-Garde music, and that the two musical entities wouldn't mesh well. This is why the album is credited as "Lou Reed & Metallica" and not the other way around, Metallic is Reed's backing band on the album. I've never met a Lou Reed fan that truly hated the album, it's the Metallica fans that hate it (and hence many of the metalheads on this site, but seriously sending the man death threats is immature to say the least), this coming from a big fan of both artists. I can listen to Lulu if I'm on a Lou Reed/Velvet Underground kick, but not if I'm on a Metallica kick. It's not Lou Reed's best or worst album (that honor will always belong to Metal Machine Music (which I challenge anyone that thinks Lulu is the worst album of all time to listen to, if you get through the whole album, you deserve a medal). It will be interesting to see if perception of it changes now that it is now his last document of studio work. There is no denying Lou Reed's influence on underground and alternative rock music, there are entire subgenres that probably wouldn't exist without this man's genius and innovation. For me personally his greatest influence was in how I approach playing octave licks on the guitar and experimenting with the endless possibilities of the instrument. Reed's "ostrich tuning" satisfied my love of the sitar's timbre and drone qualities but applied to the guitar's six-strings by tuning them to the same note and letting them drone, some real magic happens. And that line about ""The Velvet Underground & Nico" only sold a few thousand, but everyone who bought it formed a band." is one of the truest statements in music. What Black Sabbath did for Heavy Metal, Lou Reed's many musical projects did for Underground/Experimental Rock and all the Alternative Rock subgenres that blossomed from them. Lou Reed will be sorely missed, take a walk on the peaceful side Mr. Reed, RIP. Your music changed my life for the better.
    I just wanna say that if it weren't for Lulu, I probably would have never known who Lou Reed was directly. I had heard "Walk on the Wild Side", and I had heard of Velvet Underground, but I never actually knew who Lou Reed was. I'm such an avid Metallica fan that I always check on what they're doing, and when I heard "They're doing an album with Lou Reed", I just had to ask "Who is Lou Reed?" So, quite ironically, what people call his worse work was what helped me discover him. And oh boy what a discovery that was! RIP Lou Reed, a great inspiration for many
    When I saw "Honey Badger" was posting something, I was afraid it was going to be another "Honey Badger don't care" comment. I'm glad it wasn't.
    We all know Lulu was a bad album but your right, Lulu was a thing of the past. LEt's just move on.
    I don't think any one should come and bash Lulu but then again I don't believe that anyone should be immune to criticism because they died. It seems to be a problem in the music world that when someone dies everything they ever did automatically turns to gold and they are revered as the "best something ever". Take Paul Gray for example, I never heard anyone say anything about his bass playing until he died. I mean this is not the case with Lou because he was a true music artist, but I'm getting sick of this immortalization that anybody can have if they die. Anyway RIP Lou Reed.
    Agreed, I think that Lulu should still be bashed, the general consensus was that it was bad, so everybody should keep their opinions. He did all manner of great things besides
    I was just coming in here to say it was a shame everyone would probably remember him for Lulu and not all the amazing stuff he did.
    well... there's also Metal Machine Music, which I think everyone will agree is by far the worst album of all time, so...
    Lol being downvoted for stating the fact that he did mention Lulu in the comments when his comment was people don't bring up Lulu.
    Over time I've actually come to like the song "The View", it's kind of edgy and artistic, just like Lou Reed was.
    It's really unfair to him that his final contribution to the world wasn't well received. Well, maybe now people will see the beauty, if they haven't already... RIP Lou.. I haven't had the pleasure of being inspired by you but I'm sure that most of my inspirations wouldn't be there if it weren't for you..
    Exactly. It would be so disrespectful to just come onto here and be like "I AM THE TABLE DURRRR." This man was one of the most vital songwriters in pop culture history. Wasn't it Brian Eno that said "everyone who bought 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' started a band"? He stretched the boundaries of pop culture, and his influence is indefinitely placed upon music history. So, don't be a dick and post shit against Lulu. Respect the dead.
    I honestly don't understand why people make such a big deal out of Lulu when Lou Reed is the man who made "Metal Machine Music"; one of the worst "albums" in the history of music (mostly because it wasn't actually music). Lou Reed was an amazingly talented man who liked to mess around from time to time by making terrible stuff in the name of "art". Lulu being terrible isn't at all surprising.
    What a sad year it has been in deaths. Chi Cheng, Clive Burr, Jeff Hanneman, Ray Manzarek, and now Lou Reed? Damn, RIP.
    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.
    Give them a break, they update once a day.
    If they're trying to be a news site they have to do better than that.
    UG isn't primarily a news site though. It's main purpose is a site for tabs. And RIP Lou Reed, one of the most influential musicians of the last century.
    So what? Why try and be a news site then if you can't keep up with the news? Also aren't all the tabs uploaded by USERS? All the staff do is look through them to make sure they're actually tabs, doesn't matter how good or bad they are.
    I use it as a news site for rock and metal news and the comments section is usually good because it's lots of people with the same taste in music commenting about news related to that type of music.
    They don't work weekends. If you've ever been on here on a Saturday, you'd notice that the Saturday news is the same as Friday's. Same with Sunday. Hell Jeff Hanneman died on a Thursday and it wasn't updated until the next day.
    link no1
    They updated the news on weekends (UG doesn't update on weekends usually) for other deaths such as Amy Winehouse and a few others (it's usually people I don't much care for). You would think they would do the same for somebody as influential as Lou Reed, on a guitar website. Hell, even Jeffs death was a few days late on here.
    Why? Your opinion on a piece of music shoudn't change, just because the artist died. That doesn't make the music better. Anyway, he did a lot of awesome work that inspired many musicians! He'll be remembered. Rest in peace!
    wow you bunch of turncoatsi bet i can pull up any lulu article and find comments like "oh lou reed should **** off and die total idiot ruined metallica lou reed is a stupid old man blahblah lou reed sucks" and now everyone's come out with the weeping handkerchiefs albeit it's sad to see him pass RIP Lou
    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…
    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.
    They haven't updated on weekends for as long as I can remember, you must be new here.
    Not a fan in particular, but have huge respect for what he did, and how it inspired many artists I do like. RIP Lou - keep rockin' upstairs.
    Pretty sad... I love everything he did with Velvet Underground, and a lot of his solo albums. May he rest in peace. And he passed away on a sunday morning... oh, the destiny.
    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.
    I found out about 10 hours ago. At least this is the first news article they posted today. Calm your tits.
    He changed everything. Many will never be able to realise just how much The Velvets, and to a lesser extent his solo material, moved music on and was so incredibly vital for creativity's sake. Any half decent group or artist you can think of always turned to Lou for inspiration. Now that he has gone, there is an incredibly huge void to fill in music overall. You could argue that music would be very uninteresting and stale without his contributions. So long Lou, thanks for VU, Transformer, Berlin, The Blue Mask, New York, Coney Island Baby, basically thanks for changing my life.
    Lulu was kind of crap, but this was not his only work. Great man, must be remembered for the Velvet Underground.
    People said the same thing about Metal Machine Music (for some reason I love this album). It was his thing to do shit like this, mess with people and try new things. Say what you will, we need more people like Lou Reed in the business.
    Oh, Christ. I love Reed for Velvet Underground. And my opinion on Lulu doesn't make him looking worse in my eyes. He's one of the fathers of the American psychedelic music, and it is the only thing that matters.
    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.
    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.
    There is a giant Lou Reed sized hole in my heart today. RIP Lou, your music will continue to inspire me. Thank you.
    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.
    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.
    The world lost a great artist with Lou. Rest in peace, man. Keep on rocking with the supergroup in the sky.
    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.
    I don't really know much about Lou Reed, except that he was part of Velvet Underground and did 'Lulu' with Metallica. My mum mentioned his passing and my brother was like "who's he?", so I said he was a musician who quite recently did a terrible album with Metallica. He responded, with typically idiotic sarcasm, "not to speak ill of the dead or anything(!)". I told him I wasn't speaking ill of the dead; 'Lulu' was terrible when he was alive too. My point is this: why do people all of a sudden get all sensitive over dead people, regardless of whether they knew or cared who or what they were in life? RIP Lou Reed. I think I'll give VU a listen out of respect, but I won't pretend to like them if I don't.
    It's about being respectful and putting differences of opinion aside, not only to the person who died, but also the people who do appreciate his work and what he was who are affected by his passing.
    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!
    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.
    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...
    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
    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.
    R.I.P., Lou Reed. Another one of the greats has been called to play in the great gig in the sky.
    Found out late last night, and put on Perfect Day straight away. RIP Lou, an absolute legend.
    I have this news article on my wall about Lulu and it says stuff about Lou receiving death threats from Metallica fans and stuff.. It's just weird to think that he's dead. R.I.P Lou Reed
    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.