Happy Birthday Lou Reed: Performing Live At Lollapalooza 2009
Today marks what would have been Lou Reed’s 79th birthday. The legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist was born on March 2, 1942 in New York City. Reed would go on to co-found The Velvet Underground in 1964. Reed’s deadpan, conversational vocals and subversive songwriting were at the forefront of The Velvet Underground sound.
But The Velvet Underground was a fitting name as the band never really found contemporaneous commercial success. They were, however, prominent fixtures in the enclave and exhibitions of pop artist Andy Warhol. The band’s 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (with German singer and actress Nico), received little attention but Rolling Stone later called the LP the “most prophetic rock album ever made” in 2003.
The Velvet Underground would go on to release three more albums, 1968’s White Light/White Heat, 1969’s The Velvet Underground and their landmark 1970 album, Loaded, the latter of which contains some of the band’s most well-known songs like “Sweet Jane,” “Rock & Roll” “Oh! Sweet Nuthin” and “Who Loves The Sun.” But after the release of Loaded, Reed left the band to pursue a solo career.
Reed’s second solo album, 1972’s Transformer (produced by David Bowie and arranged by Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson), propelled Lou to commercial success buoyed by the hit single, “Walk On The Wild Side.” Reed’s 1970s albums Berlin and Sally Can’t Dance brought him more critical acclaim but his work in the latter part of the decade was less successful and he struggled with substance abuse issues. Although his career had its ups and downs, Reed remained extremely prolific and made a comeback of sorts with his 1984 album, New Sensations, as well as his landmark 1989 album, New York. A reunion with The Velvet Underground took place in the early 1990s and Lou continued to record solo as well. His final album was a collaboration with Metallica in 2009 called Lulu. Lou Reed died on October 27, 2013 at 71.
Four years prior to his death, Lou performed at Lollapalooza in Chicago. The famed festival was founded in 1991 as a showcase for grunge, punk, metal and hip hop, genres on which Reed had a massive influence. Backed by a band consisting of guitarists Steve Hunte and Mike Rathke, bassist Rob Wasserman, drummer Tony “Thunder” Smith, keyboardist Kevin Hearn, saxophonist Ulrich Krieger and electronic elements from Sarth Calhoun — Reed’s nine-song set included Velvet Underground classics like set opener “Sweet Jane” and “I’m Waiting For The Man” as well as solo favorites like “Dirty Blvd.” and closer, “Walk On The Wild Side.”
To celebrate Lou Reed’s birthday, watch the legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist perform at Lollapalooza in 2009 via the JamBase Live Video Archive:
Lou Reed at Grant Park
- Sweet Jane
- Senselessly Cruel
- Dirty Blvd.
- Waves of Fear
- Paranoia Key of E
- I'm Waiting for the Man
- Walk on the Wild Side