Lou Reed Dead at 71
NEW YORK — Lou Reed, the punk-poet of rock n' roll who profoundly influenced generations of musicians as leader of the 1960s cult band Velvet Underground and remained a vital solo performer for decades after, has died.
Reed's literary agent Andrew Wylie says the legendary musician died Sunday morning in Southampton at age 71 of an ailment related to his recent liver transplant.
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 Andy Warhol, Reed's early patron and longtime inspiration.
Online tributes were pouring in on social media after a message sent earlier in the day on Reed's Twitter and Facebook pages read simply, "The Door."
The Velvet Underground revolutionized rock in the 1960s and 70s with a mixture of thrashing guitar licks and smooth melodies sung by Reed or the sultry German model Nico, who briefly collaborated with the band at Warhol's insistence.
The band has long been recognized as a major musical influence on punk and art rock, as reflected in a quote often attributed to musician Brian Eno that, "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."
An admitted hard drinker and drug user for many years, Reed underwent a liver transplant earlier this year at the Cleveland Mayo Clinic, his wife, Laurie Anderson, told The Times of London, after he had canceled five California concert dates scheduled in April.
"I am a triumph of modern medicine," Reed posted on his website on June 1, 2013, without directly acknowledging the transplant. "I look forward to being on stage performing, and writing more songs to connect with your hearts and spirits and the universe well into the future."
Less than 300 days until retirement.