Influential Musician Lou Reed Dies

Rock musician Lou Reed died Sunday at 71. Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep report.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "SUNDAY MORNING")

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We're listening now to some of the music of Lou Reed. He died over the weekend at the age of 71. He was in his mid-20s in 1967 when he released this song called "Sunday Morning" on the album "The Velvet Underground and Nico."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUNDAY MORNING")

LOU REED: (Singing) Early dawnin', Sunday mornin'...

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It was The Velvet Underground's debut, later named among of the greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone. Lou Reed played one of the guitars and wrote most of the lyrics. The album included a dark seven-minute song called "Heroin." Few songwriters had tackled drug use in quite this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEROIN")

REED: (Singing) Heroin, be the death of me...

MONTAGNE: The artist Andy Warhol became a manager and mentor to The Velvet Underground, encouraging Lou Reed to be honest and unpredictable. Reed stayed with his group until the early '70s, when he started a solo career.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WALK ON THE WILD SIDE")

REED: (Singing) Holly came from Miami, F-L-A, hitchhiked her way across the USA. Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she - she says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.

INSKEEP: While he produced many songs over the years, this Lou Reed song was the only tune to hit the Top 40. But that lack of pop success understates Lou Reed's influence. His songs have been covered over the years by David Bowie as well as REM, Duran Duran, Nirvana, U2, Patti Smith and countless others.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M WAITING FOR THE MAN")

REED: (Singing) I'm waiting for my man, 26 dollars in my hand. Up to Lexington, 125, feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive. I'm waiting for my man....

MONTAGNE: Remembering Lou Reed. This is NPR News.

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