Reed on mend after liver op saves life
LOU REED, the influential American rock musician, has had a life-saving transplant after suffering chronic liver failure.
The 71-year-old – whose records chronicled the drug culture and seedy underbelly of New York – is now recovering from surgery at a clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, his wife Laurie Anderson has revealed.
Reed, whose songs include 'Walk on the Wild Side', had unexpectedly cancelled five concert appearances in April. One of the venues told fans that there had been "unavoidable complications".
Anderson, a songwriter and performance artist, said: "It's as serious as it gets. He was dying. You don't get it for fun."
She described the operation as "a big surgery which went very well", adding: "It's a technological feat. I was completely awestruck."
Reed's work with The Velvet Underground and as a solo artist has influenced generations of musicians, including the groundbreaking punk bands of the Seventies.
His songs long evoked his fascination and struggle with drugs and alcohol.
'Heroin', written in 1964, and released with The Velvet Underground three years later, featured the line: "Heroin, be the death of me/Heroin, it's my wife and it's my life."
He once said of his drug-taking: "I take drugs just because, in the 20th Century, in a technological age living in the city, there are certain drugs you have to take just to keep yourself normal like a caveman, just to bring yourself up or down."
Although he successfully overcame his addictions, the physical strain on his body appears to have finally taken its toll.
Anderson, known for her 1981 hit single 'O Superman', married Reed five years ago after they had been together for more than 15 years.
She said the impact of his sudden deterioration and the operation had left her drained. "When you've been with someone for a long time, it's almost like it's happening to you because of the empathy between partners."