27 Oct 2013

Rock legend Lou Reed dies from liver ailment

Influential rock musician Lou Reed, who was the principal songwriter and vocalist of Velvet Underground, has died at the age of 71.

Lou Reed dies aged 71 (picture: Getty)

Reed has died from a liver-related ailment, his literary agent said. He has struggled with his health this year, and underwent a liver transplant in May.

Tributes have been pouring in on Facebook and twitter from fans and celebrities.

Fans of the singer, who reached cult status through his work with the Velvet Underground and collaboration with Andy Warhol, commented on the last tweet sent by Reed, six hours before news emerged of his death, which simply said “The Door”. The tweet links through to a picture of a door, with a poster of Lou Reed on it.

Though not commercially successful in the 1960s, Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground has developed a cult following, and it is considered to be one of the most influential bands of all time.

See Velvet Underground's role in shaping 20th century music - infographic

Rolling Stone has ranked Velvet Undergound and Nico the 13th most influential album of all time, and the fifth greatest debut album.

Lou Reed dies aged 71 (picture: Getty)

Reed was born in Brooklyn in 1942. In the 1960s he befriended musician John Cale, and the pair formed a band called the Primitives, which was later changed to the Warlocks.

The pair then met guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker, and Velvet Underground was formed. Velvet Underground caught the attention of Andy Warhol, who incorporated the group into his Exploding Plastic Inevitable events.

Reed left the band in 1970 and moved to England where his 1972 album Transformer, produced by David Bowie, launched him to new heights of fame.

It was in the 1970s that he produced some of his best known songs, such as Walk on the Wild Side, Satellite of Love and Sweet Jane.

His song Perfect Day, which features in one of the key moments of the film Trainspotting, was written in 1972 – but was rereleased in 1997 as a BBC charity single – introducing Reed to a new, younger audience.

Reed continued performing up until 2012, including performing in front of the Pope in 2000. He contributed vocals on the third Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach, which was released in 2010, and worked with Metallica in 2011.

In 2008 he married his partner, experimental artist Laurie Anderson.

Lou Reed dies aged 71 (picture: Getty)

However, Reed’s legendary lifestyle – including excessive drug use in the 1970s, caught up with him in 2013, when he was forced to undergo a liver transplant.

At the time Reed said he was looking forward to returning to the stage.”I am a triumph of modern medicine,” he posted on his website. “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.”

Influential rock musician Lou Reed, who was the principal songwriter and vocalist of Velvet Underground, has died at the age of 71.