Singer/guitarist Lou Reed, best known as the principal songwriter in the influential 1960s New York City band the Velvet Underground, died today at age 71, Rolling Stone reports.
Although the cause of his death has not yet been revealed, Reed underwent a liver transplant in May.
While Reed, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1942, achieved chart success at various points in his decades-long career, he garnered notoriety and a dedicated, long-standing cult following, mostly the result of his early years with the Velvet Underground, a band that existed from 1964 to 1973.
Their 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, is often considered one of the greatest and influential rock albums of all time. Rolling Stone named it the "most prophetic rock album ever made" in 2003.
The band's 1970 album, Loaded, featured "Sweet Jane," a Reed composition that would be come a staple in his solo performances long after his departure from the band that year.
After leaving the band, Reed recorded a solo debut backed by members of Yes; it was followed by his best-known solo album, 1972’s Transformer. The disc, which was produced by David Bowie, gave Reed his first taste of rock-star level fame. It featured arguably his most popular song, the radio favorite “Walk On the Wild Side,” plus “Satellite of Love,” which has been covered by U2 and several other artists.
Reed continued to release solo albums throughout the '70s, including 1973’s Berlin, 1974’s Sally Can’t Dance and 1975's Metal Machine Music, an experiment in noise.
Reed's career also included appearances in several films from 1980 through 2008. These include One Trick PonyPalermo Shooting (2008). In films such as Permanent Record (1988) and Prozac Nation (2001), Reed appeared as himself.
In later years, Reed became an avid student of T'ai Chi, even bringing his instructor onstage during shows in 2003. In 2005 he released a double album, The Raven, which was based on the work of author Edgar Allen Poe. In 2007, he released Hudson River Wind Meditations. followed by Lulu, his 2011 collaboration with Metallica.
Lulu, which was released in November 2011, was not warmly received by critics or by fans of either act.
"It was difficult for Lou Reed because he takes everything very personally," Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich told Washington, D.C., radio station DC101 in 2012. "I think he was very surprised. We told him all along: 'Listen, there are some very, very, very hardcore metal fans out there that like everything pre-packaged in a particular little box that looks like this, and the minute that you slightly veer outside of that, then they have a hernia.' And that's fine – I'm fine with that."
Reed was born Lewis Allan Reed on March 2, 1942.