Anthony DeCurtis' revealing account of the musician who became godfather of rock's underground. Reed quits the Velvet Underground and goes solo.
After two groundbreaking but critically unsuccessful albums, Lou Reed's drug and alcohol consumption was as high as ever, and his clashes with other members of the Velvet Underground were growing worse. In August 1970 he left the band. His first solo album, simply entitled Lou Reed, came out in 1972, and although it failed to break him commercially the way he'd hoped, it brought him some useful public and industry attention. When David Bowie proposed that he produce Reed's next album, the collaboration perfectly reflected the musical innovation and sexual ambiguity that both performers were successfully exploring. The album that resulted, Transformer, included two songs that would go on to be among Reed's greatest lyrics: Walk on the Wild Side and Perfect Day. But the collaboration was not to last: Bowie couldn't cope with Reed's increasingly unpredictable behaviour, and Reed claimed to have had enough of the glam-rock scene. "I don't wear make-up any more," he announced.
Read by Demetri Goritsas
Abridged and produced by Sara Davies.