November 11, 2013 12:00 PM

>LOU REED 1942–2013

Most people will know Lou Reed best from “Walk on the Wild Side,” the 1972 single on which he used his trademark talk-singing to muse on such taboo topics as drugs, transsexuality, fellatio and male prostitution. But the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer—who died Oct. 27 at 71 from liver disease, six months after receiving a liver transplant—was so much more than that iconic hit. He was truly one of rock’s originals—and originators—from his days as leader of the influential avant-garde group the Velvet Underground (their 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico, is considered one of the best albums ever) to an experimental solo career in which he once did an entire album of guitar feedback (1975’s Metal Machine Music). More recently, his enduring cred led to collaborations with Metallica (2011’s Lulu), the Killers and Gorillaz as well as Laurie Anderson, Reed’s wife of five years. The street poet was the godfather of punk—not just with his work but with his eternally cool style, which made him the quintessential downtown New York music hipster. Although never really a major mainstream commercial success, Reed was an artist’s artist. As David Bowie said of his old friend on his Facebook page, “He was a master.”

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