Mojo (UK) - - Contents - Pho­to­graph: CLAUDE VANHEYE

As the ornery Bard Of New York’s self-re­mas­tered Arista and RCA al­bums emerge, MOJO hails Trans­former, the glam mas­ter­piece that saved his life. Plus, Lau­rie An­der­son and pro­ducer Hal Will­ner re­veal the real Lou Reed.

LOU REED’s tran­si­tion from cult mor­lock to main­stream solo artist was painful and drawn-out, be­set by parental pres­sures, the shadow of The Vel­vet Un­der­ground, and doubts over his own des­tiny. Then Trans­former, a hook-laden boho-glam fan­ta­sia en­abled by VU fan­boy David Bowie, changed ev­ery­thing. But for bet­ter or worse? “I know my obit­u­ary has al­ready been writ­ten,” Reed told DAVID FRICKE. “And it starts out, ‘Doot di-doot di-doot…’”

PLUS! The Lou I Knew. Turn to p76 for wife LAU­RIE AN­DER­SON and col­lab­o­ra­tor HAL WILL­NER’s in­sights into Lou’s life and work.

On Au­gust 23, 1970, MAU­REEN tucker ar­rived at the Man­hat­tan club Max’s Kansas City to see her Vel­vet un­der­ground band­mates. tucker, their drum­mer, was on sab­bat­i­cal, preg­nant with her first child. the oth­ers – singer-gui­tarist-song-writer Lou reed, gui­tarist ster­ling Mor­ri­son and bassist-or­gan­ist Doug Yule – were sol­dier­ing on with a sub­sti­tute, Doug’s younger brother Bill. the Vel­vets were in the sec­ond month of a sum­mer res­i­dency at Max’s and in the fi­nal stages of record­ing their fourth album, Loaded. tucker was not im­pressed by what she heard that night. “I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t the Vel­vets,” she said years later. she was shocked, though, when reed stepped out­side with her and said he was leav­ing the group. “I knew some­thing must have been terribly wrong, that he had to leave to sur­vive the thing.” reed did not bother telling the rest of the band. Mor­ri­son – who co-founded the Vel­vets with reed and orig­i­nal bassist-vi­ola player John Cale in the sum­mer of 1965 – re­called a phone call from man­ager steve ses­nick: “He said, ‘Lou’s gone home and has quit the band.’ We fin­ished the week at Max’s with­out him.” “Home” was 35 Oak­field Av­enue in Freeport, Long Is­land, the sub­ur­ban new York residence of reed’s par­ents, sid­ney and toby. It was also the house where the Vel­vets’ leader – born in Brook­lyn in 1942, the older of two chil­dren – spent a trou­bled ado­les­cence in the 1950s amid the for­ma­tive in­spi­ra­tion of vo­cal-har­mony r&B and the early stir­rings of rock’n’roll. Lou chafed against his ac­coun­tant-fa­ther’s mid­dle-class Jewish con­ser­vatism while wrestling with his own sex­ual iden­tity, un­der­go­ing elec­troshock treat­ment in 1959 and 1960 when sid­ney and toby sought psy­chi­atric help for their son. that tur­bu­lence and its af­ter­burn, in­clud­ing hard-dr ug use, be­came the raw ma­te­rial for an un­prece­dented song­writ­ing style. reed’s blunt, in­ci­sive ex­am­i­na­tions of love, need, de­viance and re­demp­tion – honed by his im­mer­sion in con­tem­po­rary fic­tion at syra­cuse univer­sity and im­mor­talised in feed­back, drone and stark-com­fort bal­ladry on his four his­toric al­bums with the Vel­vet un­der­ground – were rooted in his anx­i­ety and rage on Oak­field Av­enue. Yet on reed’s last night at Max’s, sid­ney and toby came to the club and drove their son, af­ter the sec­ond set, back to Freeport. Fed

up with the mu­sic busi­ness and frus­trated by the Vel­vets’ per­pet­u­ally dire record sales, reed took a job as a typ­ist in sid­ney’s firm. “He re­ally wanted me to be in the fam­ily busi­ness,” reed told me in 1989. “that was a real im­pos­si­bil­ity. But when I left the Vel­vet un­der­ground, I just packed up. I’d had it.” He said that toby “al­ways

told me in high school, ‘You should take typ­ing. It gives you some­thing to fall back on.’ she was right.” two years later, in April 1972, reed played the first shows of the

rest of his life: two dates in up­state new York at the univer­sity of Buf­falo. He had a new record la­bel, RCA, and was about to re­lease his solo de­but, Lou Reed, an or­nately pro­duced set of mostly old, un­re­leased Vel­vets songs cut in Lon­don with top ses­sion mu­si­cians. His back­ing group in Buf­falo was more ex­pe­di­ent: a young quar­tet from Long Is­land called the tots. “He didn’t have much in­ter­ac­tion with them,” says Billy Alt­man, the fu­ture Creem edi­tor on the stu­dent con­cert com­mit­tee that booked the shows into the club-sized Mil­lard Fill­more room. On the first night a young woman jumped up on stage dur­ing the en­core – reed’s drug-life mem­oir Heroin from 1967’s The Vel­vet Un­der­ground And Nico. “He freaked,” Alt­man says. “she just wanted to touch him. But he got real spooked.” the next day, Alt­man’s story about the gig ran in the Buf­falo news. When he and a friend vis­ited reed that af­ter­noon at his motel, Alt­man no­ticed a copy of the news­pa­per on the bed, turned to his re­view. “I sheep­ishly said, Lou, great to meet you – you know, I wrote that,” Alt­man says. “He took the pa­per, threw it off the bed and goes, ‘Al­ways great to get good press.’” Alt­man re­mem­bers some­thing else about the en­counter. While he was there, a mes­sen­ger ar­rived with a spe­cial de­liv­ery: “a dozen roses spray-painted in gold.” they were sent by David Bowie.

WHen RCA IS­SUED LOU REED in May 1972, the com­pany sent out a press bio with hand­writ­ten com­ments by the singer. For the pe­riod af­ter his exit from the Vel­vet un­der­ground, he wrote “ex­ile and great pon­der­ing”. When we spoke in 1989 for his only cover story in rolling stone, he re­vis­ited this pe­riod of un­cer­tainty. “Did I want to do it my­self? Did I want to have a band? Did I just want to do song­writ­ing, not even get on stage? I’m the last per­son in the world I’d have thought should be on stage. some peo­ple like hav­ing a spot­light on them. I don’t. What I like is the song and per­form­ing it. Do­ing it for peo­ple – who like it.” that dilemma – how to write orig­i­nal rock’n’roll songs of lit­er­ary worth and tru­elife com­plex­ity, then to be heard and ac­cepted with­out com­pro­mise – was the foun­da­tion and con­sum­ing force of reed’s life in the Vel­vet un­der­ground, then across an


au­da­cious solo discog­ra­phy of more than 30 stu­dio and con­cert al­bums un­til his death in Oc­to­ber 2013 aged 71. “My week beats your year,” he boasted in the lin­er­notes to the 1975 feed­back bon­fire, Metal Ma­chine Mu­sic, a con­cise sum­ma­tion of the changes and chal­lenge packed into the mid­dle of that decade: the op­u­lent 1973 song cy­cle, Ber­lin; the live, metal­lic KO of 1974’s Rock N Roll An­i­mal; the wounded airs and doo-wop graces on 1975’s Coney Is­land Baby; the vi­o­lent sub­ter­ranean noir of 1978’s Street Has­sle. These ex­tremes had a price: record sales veered wildly be­tween the im­prob­a­ble – the 1974 snooze Sally Can’t Dance was Reed’s only Top 10 LP in Amer­ica – to in­sult: Ec­stasy, a late-pe­riod tri­umph stalled at 183 in Bill­board in 2000. “I would like more com­mer­cial suc­cess,” Reed said in 1986. “But it doesn’t par­tic­u­larly af­fect what I do. Be­cause I al­ways end up do­ing the thing I like, for bet­ter or worse.” It could be said that Reed launched his solo career four months be­fore he left The Vel­vet Un­der­ground. Over two days in April 1970, at At­lantic Records’ New York stu­dio, the band recorded demos of nine Reed songs be­fore the formal ses­sions for Loaded. Only one, Rock And Roll, made it to that album. The rest were shelved, to be spread out in rere­corded, of­ten rewrit­ten, even reti­tled form on Reed’s first three solo al­bums. Five of them – Walk And Talk It, I Love You, Ride Into The Sun, Love Makes You Feel and Ocean – were on Lou Reed. Co-pro­duced by Reed with Richard Robin­son, a pop-mu­sic jour­nal­ist then work­ing at RCA, Lou Reed nearly killed the singer’s new career at birth, sell­ing just 7,000 copies in its ini­tial weeks – a dis­mal re­turn on the money spent on the De­cem­ber 1971 and Jan­uary 1972 ses­sions at Mor­gan Stu­dios in Lon­don. With ex­trav­a­gant ar­range­ments lav­ished on songs first per­formed by the Vel­vets with sim­pler, in­ti­mate ten­sion – a 1969 out­take, Lisa Says; the ele­giac Ride Into The Sun; the stately Ocean – Lou Reed was a grand delu­sion: Reed dress­ing his or­phans for the main­stream by raid­ing El­ton John’s wardrobe. Ac­tu­ally, the side­men in­cluded John’s gui­tarist at the time, Caleb Quaye, as well as gui­tarist Steve Howe and key­board player Rick Wake­man of Yes. “Lou saw the songs as his songs, di­vorced from hav­ing recorded them on pre­vi­ous occa-

sions,” Robin­son says, re­call­ing the album’s ge­n­e­sis. “If he was singing a song and I liked it, it wouldn’t bother me if he had done it 15 times.” In any case, “we would still wind up do­ing what he wanted to do. “My ap­proach is if some­body can do some­thing with a min­i­mum of tech­nol­ogy – just their voice – make it as good as pos­si­ble,” con­tin­ues Robin­son, who’d pro­duced cult-clas­sic al­bums for the Flamin’ Groovies and later worked with David Jo­hansen and again with Reed on Street Has­sle. “But Lou saw things in these songs that he now had the op­por­tu­nity to do the way he wanted. My job was to keep him from com­mit­ting sui­cide,” he adds, laugh­ing. “But Lou was pretty good at that.”

ROBIN­SON HAD AL­READY played a part in Reed’s emer­gence from his Oak­field Av­enue seclu­sion. The singer had turned up at his apart­ment in


mid-1971 with writer-pub­li­cist Danny Fields – a friend and Vel­vets fan from the Warhol or­bit who was hop­ing Robin­son would sign Reed to RCA. Robin­son and his wife Lisa, also a prom­i­nent rock jour­nal­ist, hosted in­for­mal get-to­geth­ers that drew fel­low crit­ics and mu­sic-biz as­so­ci­ates – some of them stars, most of them hungry. “Ba­si­cally, we gave par­ties,” Lisa wrote in her 2014 mem­oir, There Goes Grav­ity: A Life In Rock And Roll. “We or­dered in Chi­nese food. I made brown­ies. The record com­pany paid for it.” Reed of­ten sang and played acoustic guitar; he also brought his new wife, Bet­tye, an ac­tress. “She was, in my house, an in­cred­i­bly fleet­ing mo­ment,” Richard says, “stand­ing over here, stand­ing over there, never seen again.” The mar­riage did not last, al­though she ap­pears in the Lou Reed romp Wild Child (“I was talkin’ to Betty about her au­di­tions/ How they made her ill”), orig­i­nally a Vel­vets tune re­hearsed at Max’s. “Lou played riffs for me, and I would make sug­ges­tions,” Robin­son says of those im­promptu recitals, which in­cluded songs ul­ti­mately recorded for Lou Reed and, later, Trans­former (Wagon Wheel, Han­gin’ Round). “That’s how it started. And it never ended. There were a lot of peo­ple out there writ­ing and singing great songs. They just didn’t wind up in our apart­ment.” Ac­cord­ing to Lisa, Reed and Bowie – who also signed with RCA in 1971 – met at a din­ner she ar­ranged that au­tumn at the Ginger Man res­tau­rant. (Bowie and Iggy Pop said hello for the first time that same evening at Max’s.) They con­nected again a few nights later at the Robin­sons’ over Chi­nese take-out. Richard re­mem­bers Bowie and his man­ager Tony DeFries, “who was right out of Charles Dick­ens, tak­ing mag­a­zines and un­der­ground news­pa­pers from the apart­ment that had stuff on Lou. They were bon­ing up on him be­fore they started any­thing se­ri­ous.” It was Reed’s idea to make his solo de­but in Lon­don. “I’m not sure he had set his sights on Bowie at that point,” Robin­son says. “[He] just wanted to get out of New York.” But Reed brought round-the-clock New York in­ten­sity with him. “He would stay up to six in the morn­ing, play­ing ev­ery­thing over and over again.” Go­ing Down – one of the few non-Vel­vets ar­ti­facts on Lou Reed, an odd stab at coun­try soul punc­tu­ated with tubu­lar bells – “was enough to make me sit in a chair, hold my head and wait ’til he was fin­ished.” Lou Reed has its charms – the open­ing, comic crunch of I Can’t Stand It, a nightly rave-up for the Vel­vets in 1968-69, driven here by the great Bri­tish ses­sion drum­mer Clem Cat­tini; Ber­lin as a garage-rock bal­lad, two years be­fore its makeover as the fore­bod­ing en­trance to the 1973 album of that name. And Billy Alt­man re­mem­bers Reed perk­ing up in that Buf­falo motel room when talk turned to the LP’s cover – a mélange of ur­ban sky­line, hum­ming­birds, a Fabergé egg and Reed’s name in flow­ers and thorns, cre­ated by Tom Adams, well known for his jacket de­signs of Agatha Christie mys­ter­ies. “Reed said he specif­i­cally got him,” Alt­man notes, “be­cause he was a Ray­mond Chan­dler fan.” Adams had re­cently fin­ished art­work for a new se­ries of Chan­dler’s clas­sic de­tec­tive nov­els. “Of course,” adds Alt­man, “if you were try­ing to get to peo­ple who knew The Vel­vet Un­der­ground, that was not the cover to do it.” Reed had moved on long be­fore Lou Reed was re­leased. On Jan­uary 29, 1972, Robin­son cel­e­brated the end of record­ing with an in­ti­mate lis­ten­ing party at Lon­don’s Por­to­bello Ho­tel. Reed did not at­tend – he was in Paris, on-stage at the Bat­a­clan for a par­tial Vel­vet Un­der­ground re­union with John Cale and singer Nico. Back in Lon­don that sum­mer, talk­ing to Mick Rock for a story in Rolling Stone, Reed dis­missed his new record – tak­ing none of the blame. “I was in dandy form,” he de­clared. “I’m just aware of all the things that are miss­ing and all the things that shouldn’t have been there.” The next LP was al­ready done, Rock re­ported. And it was, Reed as­sured him, “groovier”.

Re­LeASeD SEVEN MONTHS AF­TER LOU REED, IN De­cem­ber 1972, Trans­former was the com­plete op­po­site of dis­as­ter: an ab­so­lute tri­umph. It was Reed’s first hit LP – reach­ing Num­ber 29 in Bill­board; go­ing Top 20 in the UK – and fea­tured his two big­gest sin­gles: Walk On The Wild Side, his af­fec­tion­ately barbed roll call of the des­per­ately glam­orous mis­fits and sex­ual changelings pass­ing through the Fac­tory, the stu­dio-cir­cus of the Vel­vets’ orig­i­nal man­ager-pa­tron Andy Warhol; and Per­fect Day, a rav­ish­ing ex­am­ple of what the critic ellen Willis called Reed’s “dis­tinc­tive cos­mic sad­ness” and Reed’s only UK Num­ber 1 in a 1997 re­make. “Great chord change,” Reed said of the song in 2003. “You find one of those, then that’s it. You’re done.” Trans­former also had Bowie: then 25, five years younger than Reed but the big­ger star and a la­bel­mate; lev­er­ag­ing his overnight suc­cess as the star-crossed glam superhero Ziggy Star­dust to save his idol’s record deal. Bowie – who co-pro­duced Trans­former with Mick Ron­son, his gui­tarist-con­sigliere in the Spi­ders From Mars – was steeped in Reed’s his­tor y and as­so­ci­a­tions with the New York avant­garde. Reed, in turn, was will­ing to be led to glory. “I wanted to see how he did things,” he later said of Bowie. “What did he do? He seemed re­ally quick and facile. I was very iso­lated. Why were peo­ple talk­ing about him so much? What did he do that I could learn?” “It seemed like a happy bunch of peo­ple,” says pho­tog­ra­pher Mick Rock, who shot defin­ing im­ages of both artists that year and re­mained close to them for the next four decades. Rock at­tended the Trans­former ses­sions at Tri­dent Stu­dios in Au­gust ’72 and says, “Lou very much put his trust in David. It was Lou’s album. But David and Mick’s in­flu­ence on him was huge, and he was happy to lis­ten.”

The ro­mance went into high gear on July 8, 1972, when Bowie and the Spi­ders played a Save The Whales ben­e­fit at Lon­don’s Royal Fes­ti­val Hall. For the en­core, Reed came out to sing three Vel­vets songs, backed by the head­lin­ers – his Bri­tish stage de­but. “It was David’s con­cert,” says Rock, who met Reed for the first time back­stage that night. “But when I look at the pic­tures I took, you can see that Lou was im­por­tant to him.” While Reed was in the spot­light, “David never went to the mi­cro­phone with him. He held back, ex­tremely re­spect­ful.” A week later, on July 14, Reed played a full show at the Scala Cin­ema in King’s Cross with The Tots, im­ported from Long Is­land. Gui­tarists Vinny La­porta and Ed­die Reynolds, bassist Bobby Re­signo and drum­mer Scot­tie Clark re­mained Reed’s road band into mid-1973. Rock’s iconic photo on the cover of Trans­former – Reed at the mike with a 1,000-yard stare, his face coated in white Ja­panese clas­si­cal-theatre make-up – was taken at the Scala. “Lou was very quiet, a sub­dued per­son­al­ity,” Rock says, de­scrib­ing his first im­pres­sions. “He had a cer­tain un­der­ground rep­u­ta­tion in Eng­land. The know-it-alls knew about him. But he wasn’t overly so­cial. He wasn’t stay­ing in the mid­dle of Lon­don. Lou was ac­tu­ally stay­ing in a condo in Wim­ble­don.” The Vel­vets’ rep­u­ta­tion – and Reed’s stand­ing as an in­tim­i­dat­ing au­thor­ity on New York drug cul­ture, trans­gres­sive sex and the joys of noise – pre­ceded him. In Lon­don in 1965, John Cale left an early re­hearsal tape of the band with Marianne Faith­full, ask­ing her to pass it on to Mick Jag­ger (she did not). Two years later, Warhol met Paul McCart­ney and The Bea­tles’ man­ager Brian Ep­stein to find funding for a Vel­vets tour of Bri­tain; that too came to noth­ing. Bowie recorded his first cover of a Reed song, I’m Wait­ing For The Man, in 1967 with freak­beat combo The Riot Squad, re­turned to it at a ses­sion for the BBC in April 1970, and paid ex­plicit homage to Reed’s old band on 1971’s Hunky Dory in the proto-glam grenade Queen Bitch. “Some V.U., White Light, Re­turned With Thanks,” Bowie noted on the back cover, next to the song ti­tle. RCA “had a lot of faith in Bowie,” said Den­nis Katz, the A&R ex­ec­u­tive who signed Reed and Bowie to the la­bel. The com­pany was ready to drop Reed over the ex­pense and woe­ful sales of his first album. “But if David took over, they could ac­cept that.”

TRANS­FORMER WAS RECORDED BRISKLY at Tri­dent as Bowie pre­pared for a Bri­tish tour and, right af­ter that, his first US shows as Ziggy Star­dust. “They were day ses­sions, which was un­usual for David,” engi­neer Ken Scott said in a 2013 in­ter­view, be­cause the star and his Spi­ders were re­hears­ing at the Rain­bow Theatre in the evenings. Bowie also got bored quickly in the stu­dio. “When he was fin­ished with his role,” added Scott, “he was out the door.” Typ­i­cally, Reed ran down a tune for Ron­son. “Then,” Scott said, “Ronno would trans­fer what the song ac­tu­ally was to the ses­sion mu­si­cians” – among them, The Bea­tles’ Ham­burg friend Klaus Voor­mann on bass, Patto drum­mer and fu­ture Rutle John Halsey and Bowie’s old sax tu­tor, Bri­tish jazzman Ron­nie Ross, who played the bari­tone solo over Her­bie Flow­ers’ dou­bled-bass glide on Walk on The Wild Side. Ar­range­ments were, Scott said, “worked out on the spot.” Katz later ex­pressed sur­prise over the pro­duc­tion, which “did not come out the way I ex­pected it… it was much too sparse.” Ac­tu­ally, Trans­former was bril­liant, nu­anced sub­ver­sion, with Ron­son’s hard-rock moxy and in­stinc­tive tonal fi­nesse as an ar­ranger bind­ing Reed’s con­tra­dic­tory gifts – lyric shock, that seething mono­tone, the ten­der­ness of his favourite doo wop records – into a strik­ing, ec­cen­tric ac­ces­si­bil­ity. Trans­former was the Loaded Reed never got to fin­ish. or as he put it in early 1973, lis­ten­ing to Walk on The Wild Side with a jour­nal­ist in New York, “That’s my mas­ter­piece. That’s the one that will make them for­get Heroin.” Trans­former was also Reed’s re­birth as a com­poser and sto­ry­teller, trig­gered while he was still hid­ing out with his par­ents on oak­field Av­enue. At one point, Warhol – fired by Reed as the Vel­vets’ man­ager in 1967 but un­able to hold a grudge – asked his old pro­tégé to write mu­sic for a Broad­way show that ul­ti­mately went nowhere. But Reed sal­vaged three songs from the job, sav­ing them for Trans­former: Make Up, a wily play on gen­der trans­for­ma­tion spiked with car­toon

tuba; the catty minia­ture New York Tele­phone Con­ver­sa­tion; and Vi­cious, with its taut, dirty riff and a first line from Warhol. “He said, ‘Why don’t you write a song called Vi­cious?’” Reed said in 1989. “I said, Well, Andy, what kind of vi­cious? ‘Oh, you know, vi­cious like I hit you with a flower.’ And I wrote it down, lit­er­ally – I kept a note­book in those days.” Walk On The Wild Side came out of another the­atri­cal com­mis­sion, an adap­ta­tion of Nel­son Al­gren’s 1956 novel, A Walk On The Wild Side, that never got off the page. Robin­son first heard the song in his liv­ing room, sung by Reed with less-than-pre­cise back­ground vo­cals by rock critic Richard Meltzer: “Lou had the rhythm, the phras­ing and 90 per cent of the lyrics,” Robin­son says. “I hon­estly don’t know why we didn’t record it” for Lou Reed. “He may have been hold­ing on to it – for some­thing bet­ter.” Robin­son also re­calls Reed play­ing Satel­lite Of Love, a de­cep­tively men­ac­ing refugee from the Loaded demos, dur­ing the Lou Reed ses­sions: “It was just once in the stu­dio, just mess­ing around.” The words may have still been in flux. “I’ve been told that you’ve been bold with Harry, Mark and John,” Reed sang in the jaunty, ac­cus­ing bridge on Trans­former. In the Vel­vets’ take, the three cads came from a 19th cen­tury chil­dren’s poem: Wynken, Blynken and Nod. “Je­sus, best left for­got­ten,” Reed ex­claimed with a mock-sigh in 1994. “I prob­a­bly wanted to make sure I wasn’t us­ing a name that re­ally meant some­thing to me. I mean the song is about the worst kind of jeal­ousy.” For­tu­nately, he said, “the melody was so pretty.” That in­stinct and po­tency – serv­ing the bit­ter in­side the sweet – went back to Oak­field Av­enue in the ’50s: Reed “try­ing to fig­ure out solid ge­om­e­try” to the street-cor­ner love songs on his ra­dio – records by The Di­ab­los, The Paragons and The Jesters. “All my back­ground vo­cal parts are based on that kind of mu­sic,” Reed said, in­clud­ing that saucy vo­cal lick in Walk On The Wild Side, echoed by “the coloured girls” – Bri­tish back­ing singers Karen Fried­man, Dari Lalou and Casey Synge, aka Thun­der Thighs. “I know my obit­u­ary has al­ready been writ­ten,” Reed cracked in the ’90s. “And it starts out, ‘Doot, di-doot, di-doot…’”

AYeAR AL­MOST TO THE DAY AF­TER He sang with Bowie at the Royal Fes­ti­val Hall, Reed was in Lon­don again, record­ing his third solo album, Ber­lin, at Mor­gan Stu­dios. The pro­ducer was Alice Cooper vet Bob ezrin. Bowie was in Bri­tain as well, play­ing his last con­certs as Ziggy. He and Reed were al­ready es­tranged. “This is go­ing to to­tally de­stroy them,” Reed said of Ber­lin, a har­row­ing pas­sion play with kitchen-sink pro­duc­tion that alien­ated the ma­jor­ity of Bowie fans who bought Trans­former. “I told peo­ple I was gonna do that. They throw me in so many cat­e­gories.” Reed was a lit­tle more rea­son­able look­ing back, years later, at his short-lived spell in Bowie’s glit­ter-era aura. “A lot of it re­minded me of Warhol,” he said in 1987. “It was just that more peo­ple were do­ing it. Then it be­came stylised and com­mer­cialised. And when that hap­pened, it be­came noth­ing.” “You have to re­mem­ber the crazi­ness,” Rock says now, look­ing back at the in­ten­sity of Reed and Bowie’s part­ner­ship in ’72 and their part­ing by ’73. “You can put it down to the drugs – it sounds facile, but it’s le­git­i­mate. It started to come in for David. And Lou was overstimulated to be hon­est. He wouldn’t sleep for days. That had a lot to do with the frag­men­ta­tion of the re­la­tion­ship.” Reed was also tired, Rock says, “of in­ter­views where peo­ple al­ways wanted to talk about the sex and drug songs” – and about Bowie. “Lou got very touchy. He wanted to shake that off.” At one point, dur­ing an ex­change of jabs in the press, Reed called Bowie “a very nasty per­son, ac­tu­ally”. “It was more Lou mis­un­der­stand­ing what David was say­ing,” Rock claims. “But that passed.” On Jan­uary 7, 1997, Bowie’s 50th birth­day, Reed

joined him at the mike – singing Queen Bitch and I’m Wait­ing For The Man – dur­ing an all-star bash Bowie threw for him­self at New York’s Madi­son Square Gar­den. A few years later, Bowie took the vo­cal part of a comic, homi­ci­dal dwarf, Hop Frog, on The Raven, Reed’s 2003 treat­ment of edgar Allan Poe’s sto­ries and po­ems. And Rock says that af­ter Reed died, Bowie told his widow, Lau­rie An­der­son, that he thought Reed’s last album, 2011’s con­tro­ver­sial Lulu, made with Me­tal­lica, “was one of the best things he’d ever done.” Rock says he has pho­to­graphs of Bowie and Reed, now both gone, from their sum­mer of ’72, sit­ting to­gether at Lon­don’s Dorch­ester Ho­tel “with their arms around each other. They bonded very quickly, the two of them. And that car­ried on. There was that con­fronta­tion. But as they got older, the love came back. There is no doubt about that.”


Can’t stand it any more: (left) The Vel­vet Un­der­ground (clock­wise from top left) Ster­ling Mor­ri­son, Mau­reen Tucker, Lou, Doug Yule; (in­sets be­low) Lou’s fi­nal VU fling; Freeport High School, NY group, 1959; Lou (far right) with The Tots.

Femme fa­tale: for­mer Vel­vets band­mate Nico vis­its Lou when his tour reaches Paris, 1971; (in­sets) his Lou Reed solo de­but album, and the covers that in­spired the sleeve.

Wild child: Reed in Trans­former-style pan­cake; (in­sets) his “obit­u­ary” song, and the novel that in­spired its ti­tle. Reed (right) per­forms with David Bowie at Lon­don’s Royal Fes­ti­val Hall, July 8, 1972, with Trevor Bolder and drum­mer Woody Wood­mansey in the back­ground; (in­sets) gig poster; the LP that won Bowie fans; and Ber­lin, that lost them.

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