Lou Reed was a lifelong musical innovator and the driving force behind the Velvet Underground, one of the world’s most influential bands. He began writing songs around 1963 while at New York’s Syracuse College, after learning to play the guitar from listening to and obsessing over rhythm and blues, doo wop and jazz records on his radio in the mid-1950s.
Never one to toe the line, Reed turned alienating his fans into an art-form throughout his solo career, with the likes of ‘Metal Machine Music’ – a barrage of guitar feedback and abrasive effects that is now praised and loathed in equal measure – released in 1975 off the back of the chart-friendly ‘Sally Can’t Dance’, which was at that point his most successful and mainstream release.
The turn of the century saw The Velvets and Reed re-introduced to a new generation, thanks to patronage from bands like The Strokes and The Libertines (the latter’s ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ is a tribute to ‘Ride Into The Sun’, while The Strokes and Reed conducted press interviews together).
Antony Hegarty from Antony & The Johnsons was another collaborator, working with Reed on several projects including his 2003 release ‘The Raven’. The album also features contributions from Bowie and Reed’s second wife, the musician and performing artist Laurie Anderson, with whom he had been with since the late 1990s.