Lou Reed, the influential rocker best known for his work with The Velvet Underground, died October 27, according to reports from Rolling Stone.
Reed's musical career spanned five decades, folding experiences with artists like Andy Warhol and David Bowie into a sound that anticipated punk, glam, and more.
Collingswood Bike Share Program Director Joe Bonaparte contributed this remembrance of one of his favorite artists.
I saw two of Lou Reed's videos on early MTV, "No Money Down" and "I Love Women," which I was not impressed with as an inexperienced teen.
I remember listening to "Walk on the Wild Side" in the car with my girlfriend Jackie in high school. I didn't know what it was about, just that there were characters named Jackie and Joe and that I thought James Dean was cool. How could you not like that song?
The first time I dropped out of college in '89, the New York album had come out, and I was finally understanding where he was coming from. During what should have been the rest of my college years, I finally found the Velvet Underground.
It was an appropriate soundtrack for the lifestyle I led during the time. Lou Reed had a liver transplant this year, but he had been sober for like 30 years.
Now at 43, I am in a band called Candy Volcano. We do three Lou Reed songs—"Satellite of Love," "Waiting for the Man," and "White Light, White Heat."
Those songs will have even more significance for me when we do them at "Beef Beer Bikes and Bowie" on November 16. Bowie did Velvet Underground songs with a band years before he became Ziggy Stardust.
I still had a fantasy that Lou Reed would write my second original glam rock album. Very sad this day.
Collingswood resident Scarlet Rowe, a New York transplant and graphic artist, said that Reed's work was as essential to the city as anything else.
I never considered myself a huge Velvet Underground fan, nor did I consider myself a huge Lou Reed fan, and I certainly didn't know Lou Reed.
However, being a New Yorker born and bred, by default it did made me a Velvet Underground fan and growing up in New York during the 1970's with Lou's voice constantly floating on the FM airwaves, it certainly felt like I knew him.
Many New Yorkers felt that way. Lou WAS New York; a defining part of the torn and frayed multi-colored patchwork that made up the mad, twisted, wonderful city I called home. His music synonymous with Gotham and just as iconic as The Empire State Building or the lights on Broadway.
I never actually saw Lou in person until 1996. I was working at a sex shop on 10th and Bleecker, bored and hanging out front, when here comes Lou, struttin' down the street.
I said, "Hey Lou! What's up?"
His reaction was, let's just say, less than favorable, snarky, and downright rude. It was perfect.
Soon after that chance encounter, I started noticing that I would see Lou EVERYWHERE. So much so, that every time I saw him it felt like seeing an old schoolmate or an eccentric, distant uncle.
Sometimes a nod, sometimes a hello—most times not—but his presence was enough to let me know that Lou was still here, and I was still here, and old New York was still here.
I saw Lou not too long ago at a work function on The Bowery, and he didn't look good. I'd seen that look before. Like a tired boxer just waiting for the bell to ring, knowing the fight was over.
So when I heard the news, I was shocked but not surprised; nonetheless I was crushed. Perhaps not because I was the biggest Lou Reed fan, but because Lou's passing symbolized to me a huge part of old New York dying.
Because Lou Reed was New York.
Do you have any memories of Lou Reed, or thoughts on what his work meant to you? Tell us in the comments.