Rock legend Lou Reed has bee pronounced dead in New York only a few months after he underwent a liver transplant. He was 71.
Reed died in Southampton, New York., of an ailment related to his recent liver transplant, according to his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, who added that Reed had been in frail health for months.
“I’m afraid it’s true,” Wylie said. ”He was as great an artist as it’s possible to be in my opinion.”
The cause of death was not immediately known, but the legendary Velvet Underground singer, 71, underwent a liver transplant in May.
Reed’s wife Laurie Anderson told the Times of London that Reed “was dying” before the operation.
Afterwards she said: “I don’t think he’ll every totally recover from this.”
Reed never approached the commercial success of such superstars 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.
Indie rock essentially began in the 1960s with Reed and the Velvets. Likewise, the punk, New Wave and alternative rock movements of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s were all indebted to Reed, whose songs were covered by R.E.M., Nirvana, Patti Smith and countless others.
“The first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years,” Brian Eno, who produced albums by Roxy Music and Talking Heads among others, once said.
“I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!”