Lou Reed biographer on controversial new book: ‘You can list his faults but he was a great artist’

New book includes allegations of Reed's domestic abuse

The author behind a new Lou Reed biography has defended himself after making allegations that Reed was abusive towards his ex-wife.

The book, titled Notes From The Velvet Underground: The Life of Lou Reed, explores the late Velvet Underground frontman’s alleged history of domestic abuse.

Author Howard Sounes, who has previously penned books on Bob Dylan and Amy Winehouse, describes Reed as a “monster” based on interviews with 140 of the musician’s friends, peers and associates about his life.


Sounes has now told Classic Rock magazine: “I think, when he died, the obituaries were too kind because he was a person that people held dear. We can see that, at times, he was a very nasty man.”

“People are complicated, Lou Reed was complicated – more than most. People say he was a ‘prick,’ an ‘alcoholic,’ a ‘wifebeater.’ He made racist remarks, as a lot of people did at the time. You can list his faults, but he was also a very great artist.”

“You have to bear in mind that he had a history of mental illness and that he was very mixed up about his sexuality. When he became famous he created this character that dressed in black and wore sunglasses, but that’s not who he was.”

“He said, ‘I’m Lou Reed – fuck you.’ That’s how he tried to defend himself.”

Sounes added: “If you read the whole book, you will find a nuanced portrait of the man. That’s the purpose of the book and it came about after two years of hard work.”


The book aims to focus on Reed’s “creative process, his mental health problems, his bisexuality, his three marriages, and his addictions to drugs and alcohol”.


Bettye Kronstad, who married Reed in 1973, alleges in the book: “He would, like, pin you up against a wall. Tussle you. Hit you… shake you… And then one time he actually gave me a black eye.”

An old school friend, Allan Hyman also claims to have witnessed Reed striking a former girlfriend. “She would say something. He’d get pissed off at what she said and smash her around the back of the head,” Hyman claimed. “[My wife said,] ‘Lou, if you continue to hit her, you have to leave.’ And then he smacks her in the back of the head. So she said, ‘Get out!’”

The book also quotes Reed as saying “I don’t like ni**ers like Donna Summer,” while also describing Bob Dylan as a “pretentious kike”.

NME has approached Lou Reed’s estate for a response but has not yet received a reply.

Notes From The Velvet Underground: The Life of Lou Reed will be published on October 22.

Reed passed away from liver disease in October 2013.

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