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Lewis Allan Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013) was an American musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He was the lead guitarist, singer, and principal songwriter for the rock band the Velvet Underground, with a solo career that spanned five decades. The Velvet Underground achieved little commercial success during their existence, but they are now recognized as one of the most influential bands in rock, underground, experimental, and alternative music.

Reed's 1972 solo album, Transformer, notably produced by David Bowie and arranged by Mick Ronson, with its lead single "Walk on the Wild Side" which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 brought Reed mainstream success. Shifting gears artistically, Reed followed up Transformer with the concept album Berlin, which received poor critical reviews and sales at the time of its release but reached No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart (and gained a cult following in later years). While his later glam rock style albums Rock 'n' Roll Animal (a live album released in 1973) sold strongly and Sally Can't Dance (1974) would peak at No. 10 on the Billboard 200, Reed's later major record labels' attempts to repeat his early 1970s Transformer period success did not translate to sales numbers, leading Reed into a descent of serious drug addiction and alcoholism that crippled much of his output in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, Reed made a gradual return to prominence with New Sensations (1984), and his album New York (1989), which had received critical acclaim at the time of its release, is recognised as the height of his mid period. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 81 in their list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". He is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee – as a member of the Velvet Underground in 1996, and posthumously for his solo career in 2014.

Reed was known for his distinctive deadpan vocal style, poetic lyrics and experimental guitar style, including the use of feedback; he coined the term "ostrich guitar".

SOURCE: Wikipedia

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The New Yorker • May 3rd, 2017