The famously difficult and hugely influential artist Lou Reed died yesterday at age 71 from complications from liver disease. Writers way more articulate than me have eulogized Reed and his enormous effect on rock way better than I ever could.
I will share with you the story of my one brief meeting with Lou. It was backstage at The Ritz in New York City in 1986. I was working at the now defunct WLIR, and Lou was doing a show for our annual 'Non-Conformal Ball' event. A couple of us were ushered into Lou's dressing room and introduced. Lou said polite hello's and didn't seem much interested in meeting us, and honestly why should he be. Reed's "Mistrial" album had just been released and it wasn't until I mentioned how much I liked the record that he came to life and engaged in an albeit brief but animated conversation. The takeaway for me was: No matter how talented and successful an artist may be, they're always looking for affirmation. At least Lou seemed to be.
When I saw Lou at the Long Island Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2011 (he was inducting his friend, musician John Zorn), he looked fragile and weak. So his death yesterday wasn't really a surprise. But the world has lost a singular artist whose contribution was vital in shaping Rock as we know it.
So long, Lou and thanks from all of us who identified so strongly with your lyric, "My life was saved by rock and roll."