Lou Reed would’ve turned 76 today (March 2), and in the pantheon of rock and roll, there’s no other figure that exuded the enigmatic cool of Reed.
From the Velvet Underground to his solo work, he was the standard of that unique breed of the rock and roll poet that no one else has really surpassed. It’s this and many other reasons why Reed is the perfect New York icon, which was echoed by Patti Smith when she inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Smith opened her speech with the following:
“On October 27th, 2013, I was at Rockaway Beach, and I got the message that Lou Reed had passed. It was a solitary moment. I was by myself, and I thought of him by the ocean, and I got on the subway back to New York City. It was a 55-minute ride, and in that 55 minutes, when I returned to New York City, it was as if the whole city had transformed. People were crying on the streets. I could hear Lou’s voice coming from every café. Everyone was playing his music. Everyone was walking around dumbfounded. Strangers came up to me and hugged me. The boy who made me coffee was crying. It was the whole city…I realized, at that moment, that I had forgotten, when I was on the subway, that he was not only my friend, he was the friend of New York City.”
And he still is.
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock blogger who once did a presentation in a college public speaking course about why The Rolling Stones were better than The Beatles. (She received an A.)