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Lou Reed
(March 2, 1942 - October 27, 2013) U.S.A.

Lou Reed

Rock star, singer, songwriter, and guitarist


Born in New York, he is the best known former member (1965-70) of the seminal New York garage band the "Velvet Underground", that helped to create an alternative musical sound to that of the West Coast. By the time they came into contact with Andy Warhol, Reed has begun to write songs abut transvestitism, homosexuality, bisexuality and drag. His solo work include the albums Berlin (1973) and Street Hassle (1978), which deal with urban alienation and angst.

Lou Reed was a musician, singer, songwriter, and artist, best-known as the leader of the Velvet Underground and for his decades-long solo career. And, as a protégé of Andy Warhol, one of the pioneers of glam rock, and as someone who openly challenged sexual and gender norms, Reed was among the artists that made queer cool.

Lou reed
Lou Reed, ca. 1976. Photo © Mick Rock

As a young person, Reed suffered from panic attacks and depression, and he found solace in music. A rebel from an early age, Reed horrified his parents on Long Island with his effeminacy and his violently loud rock music. Hoping to curb his homosexuality, they sent him to a mental hospital for electroshock treatments. Although the treatments were painful and damaging, Reed emerged with his antisocial impulses (and bisexuality) more or less intact.

With the release of his breakthrough solo album, "Transformer," in 1972, Reed brought increased visibility to New York's queer community. The lyrics of the hit "Walk on the Wild Side," for example, describe queer icons Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, Joe Dallesandro, and Joe "Sugar Plum Fairy" Campbell (whose former partner, Harvey Milk, moved from New York to San Francisco in 1969). "Make Up," also on "Transformer," includes the triumphant chorus:

"Now we're comin' out
Out of our closets
Out on the streets
Yeah, we're comin' out."

In 1975, Reed released "Coney Island Baby," a relatively mellow album; in the dedication section, he thanked his lover, Rachel, a transgender woman of color. Rachel appeared on the cover of the 1977 compilation, "Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed."

He says he is not gay, nor bisexual, but "it" happened (plenty of times) because he was just experimenting... By 1982 he had adopted the persona of happily married straight man.

Lou Reed died of liver disease; he was seventy-one.


Sources: http://lgbt-history-archive.tumblr.com/ - et alii

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