Legends: Lou Reed's 1978 Park West Performance Remembered
Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed, founder of the 1960s genre-bending, dark, sometimes-disturbing Velvet Underground and one of the most influential artists of our time, died Sunday, Oct. 27. He was 71.
He was the definitive New York artist, but there's one night caught on tape after Reed slid into his solo career that devotees place alongside his best work with the Velvet Underground's early days. (Hint: It's not Lollapalooza 2009.)
On April 14, 1978, Reed amped up soul, funk and rock in a rare, inspired performance at Chicago's historic Park West theater in Lincoln Park. It's still a hot bootleg, featuring two canonical set pieces: Sweet Jane and Walk on the Wild Side.
On news of his death, homages to the music pioneer began pouring in immediately.
Rolling Stone magazine's Jon Dolan wrote that "Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry." The Recording Academy added: "We have lost a true visionary and creative leader, and his groundbreaking work will forever hold its rightful place in music history."
Reed has links to cross generations of artists, from David Bowie, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop to U2, Jane's Addiction and hip-hop's A Tribe Called Quest.
The Velvet Underground were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.