This day in HISTOROCK !!
In 2013, Lou Reed founder and frontman of the legendary band "The Velvet Underground" died at the age of 71. An admitted hard drinker and drug user for many years, he underwent a liver transplant in Cleveland in April 2013. Afterwards he said on his website he felt 'bigger and stronger' than ever. Before the Velvet Underground, Reed played in various bands during his teenage years. His first recording was as a member of a doo wop-style group called the Jades. In 1956, Reed, who was bisexual and still a teenager, received electroconvulsive therapy, which was intended to cure his bisexuality; he wrote about the experience in his 1974 song, "Kill Your Sons" In an interview for punk mag "Please Kill Me", Reed said of the experience: "They put the thing down your throat so you don't swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That's what was recommended in Rockland State Hospital to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can't read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again." Incredible that society was that ignorant back then and some still are today !!
After moving to New York city, Reed formed The Velvet Underground with John Cale & Tony Conrad. Although it was a commercial failure in the late 1960s, the group gained a considerable cult following in the years since its demise and has gone on to become one of the most widely cited and influential bands of the era. I still remember Brian Eno's famous quote "that while the Velvet Underground's debut album only sold 30,000 copies, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band".
After quitting The Velvet Underground in 1970, he signed the following year with RCA records. His 1st solo album featured Rick Wakeman & Steve Howe of Yes !! He followed that up with "Transformer" which was co-produced by David Bowie & Mick Ronson and featured the timeless single "Walk On The Wild Side" !! 1973 saw the release of the very dark concept album "Berlin", which was about 2 junkies in love in the city. In 1974 came the release of "Sally Can't Dance", and the live album "Rock 'n' Roll Animal", which contained performances of The Velvet Underground songs "Sweet Jane" and "Heroin" and became his biggest selling album !! Rock 'n' Roll Animal, and its follow-up, 1975's Lou Reed Live, featured live Transformer material. Both were recorded at the same show, Academy Of Music, NYC December 21, 1973 and featured what I think was his best band !! Dick Wagner & Steve Hunter on guitar, Prakash John on bass, Ray Colcord on keys & Pentti Glan on drums !! This fantastic line-up minus Colcord would go on to record the classic album "Welcome To My Nightmare" with Alice Cooper !! A later CD version of Rock 'n' Roll Animal together with Lou Reed Live features the entire show from that night !! This era marked the most successful period for Lou Reed !!
The double album "Metal Machine Music" was released in 1975 and featured nothing but distorted electronic noise on all 4 sides !! There were numerous reports that Reed was unhappy with his contract at RCA and was obligated to provide 2 more albuns which he did in one fell swoop !! I still remember buying this when it came out and going home to play it. Wow was I disappointed !! Reed claimed that the album was a genuine artistic effort, even suggesting that quotations of classical music could be found buried in the feedback. Lester Bangs of Creem magazine declared it "genius", though also as psychologically disturbing. Reed was quoted as saying "At the time, I was very stoned". The album was reportedly returned to stores by the thousands after a few weeks !!
On "Coney Island Baby" released that same year, there was a return to the more conventional Lou Reed sound . He released many more critically acclaimed albums through the 80's and re-united The Velevt Underground in the 90's. Just 2 years before his death, he recorded his last album "Lulu" with Metallica !! What an impressive and storied career !! Although he didn't have a great voice, even sounding mundane at times, only his voice suited his music !! I'll leave with a quote from Mr Reed : "My God is rock'n'roll. It’s an obscure power that can change your life. The most important part of my religion is to play guitar" !! Enjoy this great song by Lou Reed doing The Velvet Underground song "Sweet Jane" from the RocknRoll Animal album. RIP
Keep on ROCKIN !!