Lou Reed Photography

Lou Reed

New York rocker Lou Reed first gained recognition as a founding member of the Velvet Underground in the late 1960s. After leaving the experimental avant-garde act in 1970, this singer/songwriter/guitarist went solo, releasing his self-titled debut album in 1972.

By the end of 1972, this highly prolific artist also released Transformer, which would be his first foray into the mainstream thanks to the gender-bending single “Walk on the Wild Side” and the classic “Satellite of Love” (later covered by Morrissey, U2, and many others). For the next 40 years, Reed would continue switching between alternative and more mainstream-minded material with 1976’s Rock and Roll Heart and 1989’s New York serving as additional cross-genre landmarks.

Even as late as 2011, this icon kept his fans on their toes with his collaborative Lulu album—recorded with heavy metal heroes Metallica. Though he died just two years later from liver disease, Reed is memorialized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as both a member of the Velvet Underground and for his immense solo achievements.

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