In Cleveland Saturday night, the late Lou Reed was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Rolling Stone reports that Patti Smith delivered a wonderful speech as she inducted Reed, and Reed’s widow, Laurie Anderson, accepted the honor on his behalf. Karen O and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs performed Reed’s “Vicious,” and Beck and Nate Ruess sang “Satellite of Love” with Paul Shaffer‘s band.
Reed, a founding member of The Velvet Underground, lived in Springs prior to his death in 2013.
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 Reed as a punk pioneer.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony and concert will air on HBO on May 30 at 8 p.m.