Nearly six months after a liver transplant, legendary rocker Lou Reed died at his home in Springs on Sunday. He was 71.
Mr. Reed was not only a rock icon of the 1960s and 1970s who continued recording and performing to the present day, he was a prolific songwriter who supported the arts and did so here in his part-time home on the South Fork.
He first entered the music scene in 1964 as a songwriter for Pickwick Records in Manhattan and had some success with a dance parody he wrote called “The Ostrich,” which he recorded with studio musicians, including a Welsh-born viola player, John Cale, who had an avant-garde streak. The two soon thereafter performed together in rock bands until they were joined by Sterling Morrison, a friend of Mr. Reed, and a drummer, Maureen Tucker. They named their band The Velvet Underground, after a book about the sexual subculture.
Even without much commercial success, the band caught the attention of Andy Warhol, who became their manager and somewhat of a mentor to Mr. Reed. Mr. Warhol suggested they take on former European model and singer Nico, who was featured on their debut album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” which was released in 1967.
The album peaked that year at No. 171 on the charts. But its combination of beautiful pop melodies alongside screeching, abrasive experimental rock, and groundbreaking lyrics about drug use and sadomasochism, had an enormous impact on modern music and many musicians. Years later, it would be named the 13th greatest album of all time and the “most prophetic rock album ever made” by Rolling Stone magazine. Even today, the album is noted for its avant-garde approach and its simple yet emotionally charged sound, and its influence can be heard in many 21st century performers.
After releasing just three more studio albums—“White Light/White Heat,” “The Velvet Underground” and “Loaded,” all considered classics, and which included popular songs “Pale Blue Eyes,” “Rock and Roll” and “Sweet Jane”—core members left the band, and it fell apart. Mr. Reed left officially in August 1970. Later albums “VU” and “Another View” collected unreleased tracks from the band’s active period, and a box set, “Peel Slowly and See”—which reproduced Warhol’s famous “banana” album cover from the debut album—collected the group’s output.
Years after solo albums, reunions with his former bandmates and other collaborations, Mr. Reed moved to the Hamptons with his third wife, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson, whom he married in 2008.
Dianne B., a friend who sits on the board of the LongHouse Reserve, said she met Mr. Reed through Watermill Center Director Robert Wilson and became friendly with him and Ms. Anderson. Both performed at the second Watermill Center benefit in the mid-1990s, and Mr. Reed later put together two productions with Mr. Wilson called “Time Rocker” and “POEtry.”
“Both productions weren’t based on someone else’s story,” Ms. B said. “It was something they totally collaborated on.”
About three years ago, the LongHouse Reserve honored Ms. Anderson. Ms. B said the couple had just bought their house in Springs, and she was “so very, very happy.”
The fact that the two met and loved each other as they did was really something, according to Ms. B. “He had already had his stardom, and she already made history with her art and music,” she said. “For them to find each other in the world of offbeat and edgy celebrity that they inhabited, it is a wonderful thing. I feel very sad for her. It’s going to be an intense loneliness.”
Last year, the couple performed together with Cindy Sherman and Rufus Wainwright at a benefit for Landscape Designer Edwina von Gal. In August, Mr. Reed appeared at Guild Hall’s annual summer gala, celebrating the work of artist Chuck Close.
Mr. Wilson told Ms. B one day that Mr. Reed was very intense when he worked with him on art projects.
“He’s a bedazzling character, the myth,” Ms. B said. “But when you meet him, of course, he is Lou Reed, the guy.”
The Yardley & Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton said that the family will announce a memorial service next week on a later date.