On March 12, 1967, Diana Ross and the Supremes topped the Billboard Hot 100. Flower children all over the United States were heading out west to California, eager to take part in various happenings. Psychedelic music, drugs, and sensual dance moves became part of what would later be known as the Summer of Love. The newly reincarnated, co-educational Jesuit University of San Francisco endured the rainiest day it would experience all year long — with 1.42 inches of rainfall. While back east in New York City, Lou Reed and his cohort released its seminal first record “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” and the gods themselves conspired to help him rain on everybody’s parade.
Alas, there will be no more rain. On October 27, 2013, Lou Reed died. Rock and roll will never be the same.
Due to liver complications, Reed passed away at the age of 71, in his home in Amagansett, New York. Surely the cultural impact of Reed’s work is incalculable.
As a musician, Reed crafted poetry from urban decay. The focus of his music was often the margins, always the marginalized. Though best known for his tenure with the Velvet Underground — releasing classics such as “I’m Waiting for the Man,” “Heroin,” and “Sister Ray” — Reed was not content to lay down his guitar when he split from the group in 1970. With production help from David Bowie, Reed released “Transformer” two years later.
In a career spanning over forty-five years, Reed’s avant-gardism transcended musical genres ranging from doo-wop to garage rock, to industrial. In the process, he helped invent both indie and punk-rock. It is not an understatement to say that Reed was an influence on all rock music that came after.
Reed’s legacy is perhaps best explained by the comments of ambient music progenitor Brian Eno in Musician Magazine. While the Velvet Underground’s first record only sold 30,000 copies, Eno said, “Everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”