Lou Reed, Velvet Underground Leader and Rock Pioneer, Dead at 71

Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May.

With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s with Lulu, his collaboration with Metallica he always challenged listeners. Most importantly his early work was always embraced by future generations, cementing the Velvet Underground’s status as the most influential American rock band of all time.

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