Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed dies at 71, literary agent says

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Lou Reed, the frontman of the rock band the Velvet Underground, has died at age 71 from an ailment related to his recent liver transplant, his literary agent says.

Andrew Wylie told the Associated Press that Reed died Sunday morning in Southampton, N.Y.

The Velvet Underground became one of the most influential bands in rock music by fusing art and music through its collaboration with Andy Warhol in the 1960s, Reuters reports. The magazine did not say how Reed died and his representatives could not immediately be reached.

Reed had undergone a liver transplant in May. He was hospitalized in July for severe dehydration, Variety reports.

The Velvet Underground consisted of Reed, who was the lead vocalist and guitarist, John Cale, a keyboardist and viola player, Sterling Morrison, a guitarist, and drummer Maureen Tucker. The group played their first show in 1965 and became the house band at Warhol’s Factory studio the following year, according to a biography of the band on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website. They became the centerpiece of Warhol’s “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” multimedia events.

Reed was born in Brooklyn on March 2, 1942. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1964 and met Cale while working as a songwriter-for-hire at Pickwick Records, according to Variety. The two formed a group called the Primitives, which later renamed to the Velvet Underground after Morrison and Tucker joined.

Reed’s career produced some of the most covered songs in rock history: “Sweet Jane,” “Satellite of Love” and “Walk on the Wild Side,” in addition to a release of sheer industrial noise and a 2011 collaboration with Metallica, among other projects, Variety reports.

Reed never approached the commercial success of such contemporaries as the Beatles and Bob Dylan, but no songwriter to emerge after Dylan so radically expanded the territory of rock lyrics. And no band did more than the Velvet Underground to open rock music to the avant-garde — to experimental theater, art, literature and film, to William Burroughs and Kurt Weill, to John Cage and Warhol, Reed’s early patron and longtime inspiration.

 

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