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R.I.P. Lou Reed, Velvet Underground founder, dead at 71

Lou Reed, the founder of Velvet Underground who later embarked on a successful solo career, has died, according to Rolling Stone. He was 71 years old.

The cause of death is not yet known, but Reed had a liver transplant in May 2013. Reed’s wife, Laurie Anderson, discussed the surgery in an interview with The London Times:

“It’s as serious as it gets. He was dying. You don’t get it for fun,” Anderson explained. “I don’t think he’ll ever totally recover from this, but he’ll certainly be back to doing [things] in a few months. He’s already working and doing t’ai chi. I’m very happy. It’s a new life for him.”

Reed later issued a statement, in which he wrote: “I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry. I am bigger and stronger than ever. My Chen Taiji and health regimen has served me well all of these years, thanks to Master Ren Guang-yi. 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.”

Born in Brooklyn, New York in March 1942, Reed is considered a one of most important figures in modern music history. His earliest efforts as a songwriter came crafting songs for Pickwick Records in the early 1960s, but by finding the balance between noisy discord and melody with the Velvet Underground, he perhaps did more than any other artist to lay the groundwork for genres ranging from glam, punk, garage rock, metal and alternative rock. As founder of The Velvet Underground, Reed released some of music’s most critically acclaimed albums, including 1967′s The Velvet Underground & Nico (ranked Consequence of Sound’s fifth best album of all-time), 1968′s White Light/White Heat, and 1969′s The Velvet Underground. He was also a frequent collaborator of Andy Warhol, who designed the historic artwork for The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Loaded, released in 1970, proved to be the Velvets’ swan song, but the band left behind such classics as “Sweet Jane” and “Who Loves The Sun” before splintering. Reed then embarked on a successful solo career, which included 1972′s Lou Reed and Transformer, 1973′s Berlin, and 1975′s Metal Machine Music. The 80s found Reed streamlining his sound without compromising his artistic ambition, as 1982′s The Blue Mask and 1989′s New York stand as some of his most commercially successful work to date. From there he continued his collaborative work with Anderson, and his final release came in the form of 2011′s collaboration with Metallica, Lulu.

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