Radio 4 Book of the Week
By Anthony DeCurtis
The essential biography of the Velvet Underground singer and New York legend
As lead singer and songwriter for the Velvet Underground and a renowned solo artist, Lou Reed invented alternative rock. His music, at once the height of sanctity and perversity, transcended a genre, speaking to millions of listeners, inspiring a new generation of musicians, and forever changing the way we think of that iconic era of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
Throughout his five-decade career, Reed embodied artistic self-awareness and captured the beauty, paranoia, and vivacity of his time into an array of hit songs, experimental albums, and a larger-than-life persona. With such masterpieces as 'Sweet Jane' and 'Walk on the Wild Side', Reed exerted an influence on popular music rivaled only by the likes of Bob Dylan and the Beatles and is recognized to this day as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century.
Now, just a few years after Reed's death, comes the thrilling, provocative story of his complex life. An acclaimed Rolling Stone contributor, Anthony DeCurtis interviewed Reed extensively and knew him well. With unparalleled access to Reed's friends, family, and dozens of other intimate relations, DeCurtis brings Reed's story compellingly alive and deepens our understanding of his indelible music. We travel deep into the underground artist clubs, listen along in the studio as the Velvet Underground record their signature work, and revel in Reed's relationship with legendaries like Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, and David Bowie. Insightful, revelatory, and intimate, Lou Reed is a gripping tribute to a quintessential American icon.
Anthony DeCurtis is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, where his work has appeared for more than 35 years, and a Distinguished Lecturer in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of In Other Words and Rocking My Life Away, the co-writer of Clive Davis's autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life, a New York Times bestseller, and the editor of Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer and Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture. DeCurtis is a Grammy Award winner and has served as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee for more than 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. in American Literature and lives in New York City.
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- Publication date:
05 Oct 2017
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I'm not the first musician to pledge allegiance to Lou and the Velvets, and I won't be the last. Read this book, and explore the f*cking genius that was Lou Reed — Peter Buck, co-founder and lead guitarist of R.E.M.
Anthony DeCurtis captures the soul and the essence of Lou Reed in his terrific new biography of the brilliant, culture-shaping musician. DeCurtis' great gift of storytelling gives fascinating insight and perspective to Reed's complex personality and cutting-edge musical talent. This is a must read — Clive Davis
How did a middle-class suburban boy grow up to be king of Manhattan's wild side? Thanks to this groundbreaking biography, now we know . . . A must-read for fans of rock and roll, New York City, or sex — Ada Calhoun, author of St. Marks is Dead
Lou Reed was one of music's most brilliant and complicated figures-an explorer, a provocateur, and always a true artist. With grace and grit, Anthony DeCurtis has delivered a revelatory and insightful chronicle of this most challenging rock & roll icon, and Lou Reed gets the biographer he deserves — Alan Light, author of The Holy or the Broken
Lou Reed is Lou Reed! — Iggy Pop
A brilliant artist has found a biographer with the insight to, as Lou said, 'pass through the fire' and be a definitive interpreter of both his music and his life — Sting
An eloquent account of a harrowing life transformed by love in the end. Anthony DeCurtis does a brilliant job of synthesizing the disparate parts of Lou Reed's life into an insightful, moving narrative. I highly recommend it — Suzanne Vega
Anthony DeCurtis was one of the few music critics Lou Reed read and whose company he enjoyed. After reading this sublime and subtle book, the mystery of Lou's respect for Anthony is revealed. Anthony is a great story teller, a writer's writer, turning pain into beauty the way Lou did in his songs — Bono
There were, [DeCurtis] states in the introduction, "aspects of his sex life, his drug use, and his cruelty" that Reed would "have loved to erase" - yet, while less prurient than other recent biographers, DeCurtis recognises that an airbrushed portrait would be a travesty of a life — Sunday Times
An even-handed, well-researched portrait — Financial Times
A serious and comprehensive account — Guardian, Books of the Year