LOU Reed, the punk poet of rock 'n' roll who influenced generations of musicians as leader of The Velvet Underground and was a vital solo performer for decades after, has died at the age of 71.
Despite modest sales during their time together, the band developed a cult following and enjoyed posthumous acclaim for years after their final performance. The band is regularly cited as among the greatest influences on contemporary rock music.
But Reed's lyrics also drew criticism from those troubled with the content of some Velvet Underground songs – with themes of sexual ambivalence, sadomasochism and drug use described as particularly unpalatable.
Reed, who was notoriously difficult to interview, also spoke at length of his past alcohol and drug use, anecdotally recalled in the likes of the seven-minute ode to the class-A drug 'Heroin', while 'Venus in Furs' and 'I'm Waiting for the Man' also provoked concern from those of a conservative disposition.
As a solo artist, his work was revered, with singles from his David Bowie-produced 'Transformer' album going on to score countless TV programmes.
It was an album that spawned 'Walk on the Wild Side' – a tale of transsexual lust partly veiled by a soothing double bass, searing saxophone coda and serene backing vocals – and featured promiscuous artwork of a male model in a cowboy hat, believed to be Reed.
Perhaps his greatest recognition came with the help of M People singer Heather Small, who was one of several contributor vocalists on a cover version of 'Perfect Day', re-recorded for charity in 1997. More recently, Reed enjoyed chart success with 'Lulu', a musical collaboration with Metallica.
Reed's trademarks were a monotone of surprising emotional range and power; slashing, grinding guitar; and lyrics that were complex, yet conversational.
He had a special relationship with Ireland playing here on a number of occasions. His first concert here was in the National Stadium in 1979 and he went on to perform here regularly during his world and European tours including concerts at Point Depot (now the O2), the Helix Theatre and more recently the Marquee in Cork. However he is perhaps best remembered by Irish fans for the three dates he performed in Croke Park during the summer of 1987 when he supported U2.
Close friends and fans last night paid tribute to Reed who was remembered as one of the greatest influence on rock music.
"Of all the people I have interviewed in my career, to have befriended someone like Lou Reed is the most surreal and bizarre. That eventuality was never likely because his reputation was one of hardwork and a bit of a curmudgeon.
"But I have to say I never found him anything other than sweet and generous and funny and warm and I actually became very friendly with the guy and we used to keep in touch email each other regularly and we'd meet up if he was in Dublin," he said.
The Irish Independent's John Meagher said Reed had "immense ability as a musician" but said he was certainly no crowd pleaser when it came to live performances.
Ryan Hooper and Sam Griffin