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Lou Reed, iconic punk-poet, dies at 71

  • In this Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009 file photo, Lou Reed performs at the Lollapalooza music festival, in Chicago. Punk-poet, rock legend Lou Reed is dead of a liver-related ailment, his literary agen said Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. He was 71. (AP Photo/John Smierciak, File)

NEW YORK — Lou Reed was a pioneer for countless bands who didn't worry about their next hit single.

Reed, who died Sunday at age 71, radically challenged rock's founding promise of good times and public celebration. As leader of the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, he was the father of indie rock, and an ancestor of punk, New Wave and the alternative rock movements of the 1970s, '80s and beyond.

He influenced generations of musicians from David Bowie and R.E.M. to the Talking Heads and Sonic Youth.

Lou Reed (1942-2013)

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"The first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years," Brian Eno, who produced albums by Roxy Music and Talking Heads among others, once said. "I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!"

Reed and the Velvet Underground opened rock music to the avant-garde — to experimental theater, art, literature and film, from William Burroughs to Kurt Weill to Andy Warhol, Reed's early patron. Raised on doo-wop and Carl Perkins, Delmore Schwartz and the Beats, Reed helped shape the punk ethos of raw power, the alternative rock ethos of irony and droning music and the art-rock embrace of experimentation, whether the dual readings of Beat-influenced verse for "Murder Mystery," or, like a passage out of Burroughs' "Naked Lunch," the orgy of guns, drugs and oral sex on the Velvet Underground's 15-minute "Sister Ray."

Reed died in Southampton, N.Y., of an ailment related to his recent liver transplant, according to his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, who added that Reed had been in frail health for months. Reed shared a home in Southampton with his wife and fellow musician, Laurie Anderson, whom he married in 2008.

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