Like anyone with a rock and roll heart, I was both saddened and shocked by the death of Lou Reed on October 27th, 2013.

 

When a legend checks out, the universe weeps for the loss but the legacy of a great artist always remains. Itʼs in the breeze, on the airwaves, enshrined in vinyl, woven into the fabric of those who cherish.

 

Hailing from the generation who sought salvation in rock music, Reed sang for and captured the lives of outsiders, the aesthetically disenfranchised.

 

One of societyʼs great dissidents, he broadcasted beautifully crafted street missives from a dazzling, if sometimes bleak, anti-world. 

The starting point was The Velvet Underground & Nico.

 

Released in 1967, The Velvetʼs debut was a dislocated rhythmic melee that chronicled hitherto taboo subjects in pop music including heroin and S&M.

 

Lifeʼs seamier side was already a growing tradition in literature from Nelson Algren to William S. Burroughs but Lou Reed fearlessly crossed the territories between page and performance.

 

Lou dedicated ʽEuropean Sonʼ, the last track on the VUʼs inaugural platter to his former Syracuse University tutor, the poet Delmore Schwartz.

 

From his work with the Velvet Underground to his solo output and numerous creative reincarnations, Louʼs lyricism maintained an astute minimalistic grace.

 

In a 1987 Rolling Stone interview, Reed compared his albums to chapters which when stacked together, comprised My great American Novel. His influence remains an indelible one.

 

Of Edgar Allen Poe, to whom he paid tribute on 2003ʼs 'The Raven', Reed noted in typically understated fashion "Edgar Allan Poe, not exactly the boy next door."

 

And neither was Lou.

All images © Mick Rock "Transformer: Lou Reed and Mick Rock" courtesy of Genesis Publications.