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Lewis Allan Reed


1965-1970 The Velvet Underground - vocals, guitars (as Lou Reed)  
1971-2013 Lou Reed - vocals, guitar (as Lou Reed)  
1990 The Velvet Underground - vocals, guitar (as Lou Reed)  
1992-1993 The Velvet Underground - vocals, guitars (as Lou Reed)  
1996 The Velvet Underground - vocals, guitars (as Lou Reed)  

Studio musician

2011 Metallica - vocals, guitars, continuum (as Lou Reed)  

Personal information

Also known as: Lou Reed
Born on: 02.03.1942
Died on: 27.10.2013

Official website

Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed (March 2, 1942 - October 27, 2013) was an American rock musician, songwriter, and photographer. He was best known as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground, and for his successful solo career, which spans several decades and crosses multiple genres. The Velvet Underground gained little mainstream attention during their career, but became one of the most influential bands of their era. As the Velvet Underground's main songwriter, Reed wrote about subjects of personal experience that rarely had been examined so openly in rock and roll, including sexuality and drug culture.

After his departure from the group, Reed began a solo career in 1971. He had a hit the following year with "Walk on the Wild Side", although he subsequently lacked the mainstream commercial success its chart status seemed to indicate. Reed's work as a solo artist frustrated critics wishing for a return of the Velvet Underground. In 1975 Reed released a double album of feedback loops, Metal Machine Music, upon which Reed later commented: "No one is supposed to be able to do a thing like that and survive." He is also responsible for the name and popularization of ostrich tuning.

In 2008, Reed married singer/songwriter Laurie Anderson.

Early life

Reed was born into a Jewish family at Beth El Hospital in Brooklyn and grew up in Freeport, Long Island. Contrary to some sources, his birth name was Lewis Allan Reed, not Louis Firbanks; a name that was coined as a joke by Lester Bangs in Creem magazine. Having learned to play the guitar from the radio, he developed an early interest in rock and roll and rhythm and blues, and during high school played in a number of bands. His first recording was as a member of a doo wop-style group called The Jades.

In 1956 Reed received electroconvulsive therapy as a teenager to "cure" his bisexuality; he wrote about the experience in his 1974 song, "Kill Your Sons". In an interview, Reed said of the experience:

They put the thing down your throat so you don't swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That's what was recommended in Rockland County to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can't read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again.

Reed began attending Syracuse University in the fall of 1960, studying journalism, film directing, and creative writing. In 1961 he began hosting a late-night radio program on WAER called "Excursions On A Wobbly Rail". Named after a song by pianist Cecil Taylor, the program typically featured doo wop, rhythm and blues and jazz, particularly the free jazz developed in the mid-1950s. Many of Reed's guitar techniques, such as the guitar-drum roll, were inspired by jazz saxophonists, notably Ornette Coleman. Reed graduated from Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. in June 1964.

Poet Delmore Schwartz taught at Syracuse University and befriended Reed, who in 1966 dedicated the song "European Son", from the Velvet Underground's debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico, to Schwartz. In 1982, Reed recorded "My House" as a tribute to his late mentor. He later said that his goals as a writer were "to bring the sensitivities of the novel to rock music" or to write the Great American Novel in a record album.


Reed has remained active doing benefits and composing music. He has contributed vocals on the third Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach, on the song "Some Kind Of Nature". and co-wrote and performed backup music for a Chen Style Tai Chi instructional DVD. He has a co-production credit on Laurie Anderson's Homeland.

Lou Reed performed a cover of the Buddy Holly song "Peggy Sue" which is featured on the tribute album "Rave On Buddy Holly".

Reed also began touring with the Metal Machine Trio, which was widely viewed as a return to his exploration of noise and sound. On June 15, 2011, heavy metal band Metallica announced that they have recorded a full length collaboration with Lou Reed to be released November 1 in North America and October 31 everywhere else.