Lou Reed Dead at 71

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 27 2013 2:29 PM

Rock Legend Lou Reed Dead at 71

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Lou Reed attends the John Varvatos Presents Transformer By Lou Reed And Mick Rock on October 3, 2013 in New York City

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for John Varvatos

Lou Reed, the legendary musician who helped shape rock music, died Sunday, reports Rolling Stone. The cause of death has not been announced, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May. Reed joined up with John Cale to form the band that would later become Velvet Underground with guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker. Although their debut album was “met with total commercial indifference when it was released,” a characteristic that mostly continued with the band’s three subsequent albums, “they’d be embraced by future generations, cementing the Velvet Underground’s status as the most influential American rock band of all time,” notes the Rolling Stone.

Reed later found fame as a solo artist, particularly after the release of Transformer in 1972. And after a decade in which his partying ways, including heavy drug use, was the stuff of legend, Reed eventually mellowed out in 1980 and got married, taking a decisively more commercial turn with his music.  In the 1990s the Velvet Underground eventually reunited for a European tour. Reed eventually divorced Sylvia Morales and then married musician-performing artist Laurie Anderson in 2008.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.