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October 28th, 2013
The world is mourning the loss of Lou Reed, one of the 20th century’s most significant songwriters and musical icons. As a member of the Velvet Underground, Reed helped bring life to “alternative” as a genre, idea, as well as incorporating contemporary art, queer culture and literal drug use into music, thanks to one Andy Warhol. As a solo artist he sought to challenge listeners with concept albums like Berlin and Metal Machine Music, not to mention 2011′s Lulu with Metallica, establishing an uncompromising, unpredictable vision.
But alongside all of his groundbreaking musical achievements, Lou Reed was also a hilarious dude. Whether it was incidental humour from being music’s greatest curmudgeon or his droll comedic timing, Lou was an underrated source of comedy. We’ve uncovered ten examples of how Lewis Allan Reed could also make us laugh.
1. Response to Lulu, his collaboration with Metallica, was so negative that Lou’s life was reportedly in jeopardy. In an interview with USA Today, he admitted that Metallica fans were “threatening to shoot me, and that’s only because I showed up. They haven’t even heard the record yet, and they’re recommending various forms of torture and death.” Asked about his fans’ response to the album, he added, “I don’t have any fans left. After Metal Machine Music, they all fled. Who cares? I’m essentially in this for the fun of it.”
2. Speaking of albums that didn’t go down so well, 1975′s Metal Machine Music is largely considered a joke he played on his record label to fulfil his contract with RCA. Funnily enough, the album is largely considered the prototype for contemporary noise and avant-garde music. When Pitchfork asked him about its status as the most returned record of its time, Lou chimed, “It still may be the all-time champ.”
3. When a court threw out his lawsuit claiming that the Velvet Underground owned the rights to the famous banana logo that adorned the band’s self-titled debut album, Lou went on Facebook and posted the above photo with the caption: “Sectioned.”
4. This quote: “One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.”
5. Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, modern music’s most esteemed couple, showed up to the 2010 Mermaid Parade at Coney Island dressed accordingly.
6. In 2000, Lou released Ecstasy, one of the better albums in the later stages of his career. This is the video for “Modern Dance.” Yes, that is him dressed as a chicken.
7. Lou was a big fan of dressing up his dog Lucky and paying a visit to the Howl-o-ween Pet Costume Party at the Copacabana in NYC.
8. Unexpectedly, Lou was a life-long New York Knicks fan. In a 2000 essay for Esquire, he grumpily complained about how his presence at Madison Square Garden was always ignored: “I go to Knicks games all the time, and they always put the camera on Spike Lee, Woody Allen and Matthew Modine, and never on me.” In 2000, he also supported then Knick Latrell Sprewell’s decision to choke out his then coach, PJ Carlesimo: “You have to think about choking the coach. Well, you know, you’re a grown man, guy’s standing there screaming at ya…I’ll speak for myself: I could be in that position.”
9. One of Lou’s best known achievements was when he purposely made children cry on tape so it could be included in a song from his classic 1973 album, Berlin. How did it do it? He got producer Bob Ezrin to tell his children that their mother had just been killed in a horrible accident. Worked like a charm. And hilarious… 40 years later, of course.
10. If any rock star utilized sunglasses best, it was Lou Reed. Throughout his entire career he could be seen sporting shades, and he even had his own model of aviators, thanks to Illesteva. But there was a reason why they were so significant to his look. When the Velvet Underground first began performing, they all worse them “because they couldn’t stand the sight of their audience.” Ba-dum ching!
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