The Life of Lou Reed: Notes from the Velvet Underground
Lou Reed lived a rock and roll lifestyle. He was a blistering force in the business for nearly fifty years. Upon his death in 2013, the music he created with The Velvet Underground and as solo artist was recalled fondly. However, as an individual, he was more complex and too troubled to be remembered as such by all.
An undeniable talent, yet a self-destructive and addictive personality, Lewis Alan Reed was born in 1942 in Brooklyn, NY. His early life would be split between Brooklyn and Freeport, Long Island. Lou would lead a troubled life, marked by bipolar episodes that would lead to shock treatments at an institution. He gravitated to music as an escape. Friendships formed in college and in New York City would lead to the birth of The Velvet Underground. Their tumultuous time together would be short, although a permanent footprint would be left on music. Lou’s solo career ebbed and flowed with promise and despair. His acerbic personality could torpedo any possibility, yet his brilliance in writing ensured his relevance during that period.
Howard Sounes had his work cut out for him in charting the life of Reed. The stories that Reed told about his upbringing were contradictory, his personal life almost schizophrenic. The book also has the hard task of humanizing a subject who was not the warmest of individuals. Sounes succeeds with masterful skill and research. A top-notch biography.
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