If you ever need someone to move an entire room — including herself — to tears, just give Patti Smith a call. The rocker gave a moving tribute to her friend, the late great Lou Reed, during his posthumous induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this weekend.
Smith had previously eulogized the Velvet Underground lead singer, who died in October 2013 of liver disease, in this not-so-long but very sad New Yorker obituary.
Hello everybody. On October 27, 2013, I was at Rockaway Beach, and I got the message that Lou Reed had passed. It was a solitary moment. I was by myself, and I thought of him by the ocean, and I got on the subway back to New York City. It was a 55-minute ride, and in that 55 minutes, when I returned to New York City, it was as if the whole city had transformed. People were crying on the streets. I could hear Lou’s voice coming from every café. Everyone was playing his music. Everyone was walking around dumbfounded. Strangers came up to me and hugged me. The boy who made coffee was crying. It was the whole city. It was more… Sorry. [Crying] I realized, at that moment, that I had forgotten, when I was on the subway, that he was not only my friend, he was the friend of New York City.
I made my first eye contact with Lou, dancing to the Velvet Underground when they were playing upstairs at Max’s Kansas City in the summer of 1970. The Velvet Underground were great to dance to because they had this sort of transformative, like a surf beat. Like dissonant surf beat. They were just fantastic to dance to. And then somewhere along the line, Lou and I became friends. It was a complex friendship, sometimes antagonistic and sometimes sweet. Lou would sometimes emerge from the shadows at CBGBs. If I did something good, he would praise me. If I made a false move, he would break it down.
One night, when we were touring, separately, we wound up in the same hotel, and I got a call from him, and he asked me to come to his room. He sounded a little dark, so I was a little nervous. But I went up, and the door was open, and I found him in the bathtub dressed in black. So I sat on the toilet and listened to him talk. It seemed like he talked for hours, and he talked about, well, all kinds of things. He spoke compassionately about the struggles of those who fall between genders. He spoke of pre-CBS Fender amplifiers and political corruption. But most of all, he talked about poetry. He recited the great poets—Rupert Brooke, Hart Crane, Frank O’Hara. He spoke of the poets’ loneliness and of the poets’ dedication to the highest muses. When he fell into silence, I said, “Please, take care of yourself, so the world can have you as long as it can.” And Lou actually smiled.
Everything that Lou taught me, I remember. He was a humanist, heralding and brazing to the downtrodden. His subjects were his royalty that he crowned in lyrics without judgment or irony. He gave us, beyond the Velvet Underground, Transformer, and “Walk on the Wild Side.” Then, mediations on New York, homage to the pope and great mentor Andy Warhol in Magic and Loss.
His consciousness infiltrated and illuminated our cultural voice. Lou was a poet, able to fold his poetry within his music in the most poignant and plainspoken manner. Oh, such a perfect day. Sorry. [Crying] Such a perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you. You made me forget myself. I thought I was someone else. Someone good. You were good, Lou. You are good.
True poets must often stand alone. As a poet, he must be counted as a solitary artist. So, Lou, thank you for brutally and benevolently injecting your poetry into music. And for this, we welcome you, Lou Reed, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, the late rocker Lou Reed, punk group Green Day and singer Bill Withers are among the 2015 inductees named on Tuesday to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, rockers Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, rhythm and blues band the “5” Royales and the late blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Cleveland on April 18.
Starr was selected in the music excellence category. He was inducted as part of The Beatles in 1988. His bandmates have since entered the Hall of Fame as solo artists - John Lennon in 1994, Paul McCartney in 1999 andGeorge Harrison in 2004.
Reed, whose work with The Velvet Underground made them one of the most influential groups in rock, Green Dayand “Ain’t No Sunshine” singer Withers were selected in the performer category, along with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, whose biggest hit “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” became a rock classic, were cited for their fresh sound and The “5” Royales were credited for creating some of rock’s first standards while performing from 1945 to 1965.
More than 700 artists, music industry professionals and historians help to decide who is inducted. The public also cast their votes in a “fans ballot.”
Artists are eligible 25 years after the release of their first record for induction into the Hall of Fame, which was established in 1983.
The life and times of the late rocker Lou Reed will be detailed in a biography that will be penned by Rolling Stone magazine writer Will Hermes, publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux said on Wednesday.
Reed, the frontman of the 1960s influential band The Velvet Underground, died of liver disease last October at the age of 71, months after receiving a liver transplant.
“Over six decades, the sound of Lou Reed’s voice defined everything that’s smart and streetwise about New York City, while his songs set the standard for what can happen when popular music takes artistic risks,” said Alex Star, senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
“His influence is everywhere, but the full story of his life remains to be told,” he added in an email.
The book is tentatively titled “Lou: A New York Life.” No publication date has been set, but a spokesman said it is about two to three years away.
The Brooklyn-born Reed, whose solo songs include “Walk on the Wild Side,” and “Perfect Day,” formed The Velvet Underground with musician John Cale as an experiment in avant-garde rock. The group was managed early on by pop artist Andy Warhol, who spotted them after they performed in New York clubs.
Rocker Lou Reed, the frontman of the 1960s band The Velvet Underground who died last week, left his estate to his wife and his sister, according to a will filled in a New York court.
The performer, whose solo songs include “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Perfect Day,” died of liver disease at the age of 71. He underwent a liver transplant in April.
Reed’s wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson, will receive most of the estimated $15 million estate, including their New York apartment, a home in East Hampton, New York, and all the singer’s personal property.
Reed and Anderson married in 2008.
“The bulk of his estate is in trust for his wife, 75 percent. The other 25 percent is in trust for his sister,” said Reed’s lawyer, James Purdy.
Reed’s sister also received a $500,000 bequest. Reed said in the will, filed on Monday, that he hoped she would use a portion of the money to care for their elderly mother.
Brooklyn-born Reed formed The Velvet Underground with musician John Cale as an experiment in avant-garde rock and was managed early on by pop artist Andy Warhol.
Reed has been widely credited with expanding the lexicon of rock music with provocative lyrics that chronicled androgyny, illicit sex and drug abuse.
The band heavily influenced rock music in the 1960s and 1970s and was an inspiration for punk art.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s 71-year-old culture minister, paid his own tribute on Monday to the late rocker Lou Reed, tweeting one of his best-known songs before clarifying he was not condoning any reference to drugs some have seen in the song.
Ravasi, an Italian who is the same age as Reed was when he died on Sunday, tweeted the third verse from Reed’s song “Perfect Day.”
“Oh, it’s such a perfect day / I’m glad I spent it with you / Oh, such a perfect day / You just keep me hanging on.”
There have been many interpretations of the song’s meaning, ranging from drugs to a simple love story.
Just to make sure no-one thought Ravasi was condoning the use of drugs, he later tweeted a Bible passage that warns against “illusions” and noted that Reed quoted from the passage when he spoke in the song about reaping what one sows.
Ravasi is a Bible expert who represents the Roman Catholic Church to the worlds of art, culture, science and even to atheists and says he is a firm believer in the power of contemporary culture.
Reed, whose most famous hit, “Walk on the Wild Side” included themes such as transvestites and prostitution, died on Sunday in Long Island, New York from complications from a liver transplant.
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