The mercurial Lou Reed has enjoyed moments of great commercial success during his lengthy career, alongside long periods where he has willingly stretched the patience of fans and music critics to stretching point. He would not want it any other way. Making his start in the music business in the late 50s as a jobbing songwriter, his first notable contribution came with the seminal Velvet Underground between 1966 and 1970. An important influence on subsequent generations of musicians, the group enjoyed little commercial success (hardly surprising considering their avant rock sound and the sordid subject matter of their songs). Following one failed glam rock-influenced solo album in 1972, Reed hit big later in the year with Transformer. This excellent album included his biggest hit, Walk On The Wild Side. True to form, Reed followed up with the desperately bleak Berlin, an album that has gained critical credence over the years. The nadir of Reed's anti-commercial tendencies came with 1975's Metal Machine Music, a double album of atonal, electronic music. In subsequent years Reed has continued to jump between commercially minded releases and thorny, artistic statements, refusing to offer a simple handle for critics and fans to latch onto.
Followers: Julian Casablancas, Jason Pierce, PJ Harvey, Galaxie 500
Influenced By: Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan, Delmore Schwartz...