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Lou Reed
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    (March 2, 1942-October 27, 2013)
    Birth Name is Louis Firbank
    Released his first single at age 15
    Frontman for 'The Velvet Underground'
    Wrote/recorded 'Walk on the Wild Side,' 'Heroin,' 'Perfect Day' and 'Sweet Jane'
    He was still creating Rock n' Roll music at 70 years old.
    His voice was gruff and monotone.
    He smoked.
    He experimented heavily with drugs.
    Despite putting out 30 albums, only a few songs became hits.
    He wrote songs about sadomasochism, heroin, transvestites, and Jesus.
    His parents made him get shock treatment after he dropped out of NYU.
    He put out a double length album with no lyrics or melodies, just feedback and noise with his guitar (Metal Music Machine 1975).
    He purposely put little effort into the album, Metal Music Machine, because he contractually owed an album to his recording company.
    He suffered from depression.
    He and the Velvet Underground were inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.
    Rolling Stone called him 'one of the most prominent figures in rock 'n' roll history.'
    Rolling Stone said: 'Unlike virtually every other musician from the late 1960s, Reed has managed to constantly update his sound while remaining true to his artistic vision.'
    Although he dropped out of NYU, he earned a degree in English from Syracuse U.
    The Velvet Underground's music was the inspiration for the dissident writer, Václav Havel, and his struggle against communism.
    They were also the inspiration for the 'Velvet Revolution,' which overthrew communism in Czechoslovakia.
    (Note: Havel became President of the Czech Republic).
    Reed played at the White House dinner in Havel's honor when Havel came to the U.S. (Havel also requested Reed's autograph (1998).
    He worked with Amnesty International and other charities.
    He was one of the most influential people in Rock n' Roll.
    PBS's documentary, 'Rock n' Roll Heart,' featured Reed as part of their 'American Masters: series.'
    The Velvet Underground's first album was produced by Andy Warhol.
    They are the recipient of the prestigious Hero Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
    He told New Yorker Magazine: 'Shampoo exploded in my suitcase and my freeze-dried breakfast mineral powder leaked across everything.
    I tried a wet cloth to clean it to clean everything. ... I love rock and roll!'
    He met the Pope when he performed in a Vatican City benefit (May, 2000).

Credit: Robert Anderson

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