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Lou Reed, best known as the leader of the pioneering rock band The Velvet Underground and, later, for the solo hit "Walk on the Wild Side," **** on Sunday at age 71.
Reed's publicist confirmed the death to ABC News Radio, though no cause of death was given. Reed underwent an apparently successful liver transplant last May; the operation forced him to cancel a series of California shows, as well as scheduled appearances at the Coachella festival. Reed said at the time, "I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry. I am bigger and stronger than ever...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."
Lou Reed started his music career as a staff songwriter for Pickwick Records. In the mid-sixties, he and John Cale started the band that would become the Velvet Underground. Artist Andy Warhol took the band under his wing and made them part of his art collective. He designed the cover of their first album, The Velvet Underground and Nico, and was also credited as a producer.
While the disc was ignored when it was released in 1967, it now stands as a landmark recording, depicting a seedy underworld of ***, ***** and rock 'n roll that was startling in its frankness and pioneering in its sound The band's subsequent recordings included songs now hailed as classics: "White Light/White Heat," "Rock & Roll," "Sweet Jane," "I'm Waiting for the Man," "Heroin" and others.
Reed's solo career took off with the landmark album Transformer, in 1972. It featured "Walk on the Wild Side," a depiction of the denizens of Warhol's infamous "Factory," and it became a hit despite its references to oral ***. Reed's solo career varied wildly, as he created everything from noise rock, soul music, pop to straight ahead rock, though he continued to write about edgy topics like suicide, *** and **** addiction; he also incorporated social commentary into his work with albums like 1989's New York. In 1991, he re-teamed with John Cale for Songs for Drella, a tribute to Warhol, and later in the nineties, the Velvet Underground reunited for some European shows.
Reed married performance artist Laurie Anderson, who he'd been with since the nineties, in 2008. He continued to release solo albums; in 2011, he unexpectedly collaborated with Metallica on the album Lulu.
In 1996, Reed was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Velvet Underground. He has yet to be inducted as a solo artist.
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