Lou Reed to Be Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock Musician Lou Reed (The Velvet Underground)
Lou Reed. Photo credit: Barry Gordin

The late rock legend Lou Reed, who died in 2013 at home in Springs, will be posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year as a solo artist.

The induction ceremony—the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 30th—will be held April 18 in Cleveland.

Reed was a unique figure in popular music: a committed rule-breaker, an experimentalist in a musical culture that expects adherence to fairly strict formulas.

In the mid-60s, Reed, a Long Island native who had studied poetry with Delmore Schwartz at Syracuse University, formed the band The Velvet Underground with violist John Cale. The Velvet Underground’s music, with Lou Reed as principal songwriter, tended to be dark and discordant, with lyrics that explored then-taboo subjects like sado-masochism and drug addiction.

The Velvet Underground—which was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996—attracted the attention of famed artist Andy Warhol, who became their manager, incorporating them into his multimedia Exploding Plastic Inevitable and designing the now-classic cover of their first album, featuring a bright yellow banana. Though now considered seminal, The Velvet Underground was at the time a commercial failure, and Reed left the band in 1970.

As a solo performer, Reed found his greatest success with the album Transformer. Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, the album featured “Walk On The Wild Side”, Reed’s sly tribute to certain misfits in the Warhol entourage—the song used coded references to evade radio censorship.

With the late-70s emergence of punk rock came a rediscovery and critical re-evaluation of The Velvet Underground, with a consequent recognition of Lou Reed as a punk pioneer.

Other performer inductees include the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Bill Withers. Ringo Starr will become the fourth Beatle inducted into the Hall of Fame as solo artist. As a band, The Beatles entered the Hall of Fame in 1988.

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