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Iconic rocker Lou Reed was a regular on Brooklyn’s stages

Lou Reed in 1986. AP Photo/Fred Jewell, File

'A great friend’ to St. Ann’s Warehouse

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Lou Reed, the revolutionary, idiosyncratic rocker who died on Sunday at age 71, may have left Brooklyn for Long Island at the age of 10. But he performed countless times in the borough – at BAM, at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park, and especially at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

In January 1989, Reed and John Cale, one of his former bandmates from the Velvet Underground, performed their almost-completed “Songs for Drella,” a song cycle honoring their former patron Andy Warhol, at St. Ann’s Warehouse, at that time known as Arts at St. Ann’s. (“Drella,” a combination of Dracula and Cinderella, was Reed’s nickname for Warhol.)

In November and December of the same year, they performed the full version at BAM. The album version of “Songs for Drella” was released the following year.

In 2006, Reed performed songs from “Berlin,” an album of his from 1973, at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Two years later, his appearances there were made into a concert film and album, both called “Berlin: Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse.”

Also, in 2000, Reed read from some of the works of Edgar Allan Poe at a Halloween benefit at St. Ann’s. This grew into POEtry, a rock opera directed by Robert Wilson with a libretto and score by Reed, which made its debut at BAM in December 2001.

“Lou Reed appeared at St. Ann’s, both on stage and as a member of the audience, hundreds of times, since 1988-89,” said Susan Feldman, founding artistic director of St. Ann’s Warehouse. “He often came here with Laurie [his wife and fellow musician Laurie Anderson] and was a great friend to St. Ann’s. He will be missed.”

At BAM, Reed also contributed songs to “Time Rocker,” an avant-garde interpretation of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” which was shown at there in 1997.

Finally, at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park, in 2007, Reed performed two songs as part of a salute to songwriter Doc Pomus, famed for the hits he wrote for the Drifters, Rick Nelson, Ben E. King, Elvis Presley and others.

Reed was part of Hal Willner’s  2011 “Freedom Rides Project” at Celebrate Brooklyn, featuring music of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

As leader of the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, Reed was the father of indie rock, and an ancestor of punk, New Wave and the alternative rock movements of the 1970s, '80s and beyond. Even though he only had one hit record (“Walk on the Wild Side,” an ode to the transvestites and drug addicts he knew in the 1960s), he influenced generations of musicians from David Bowie and R.E.M. to Talking Heads and Sonic Youth.

"The first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years," Brian Eno, who produced albums by Roxy Music and Talking Heads among others, once said. "I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!"

Reed died in Southampton, N.Y., of an ailment related to his recent liver transplant, according to his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, who added that Reed had been in frail health for months. Reed shared a home in Southampton with Anderson, whom he married in 2008.

Many of his songs became standards among his admirers, from "Heroin" and "Sweet Jane" to "Pale Blue Eyes" and "All Tomorrow's Parties." An outlaw in his early years, Reed would eventually perform at the White House, have his writing published in The New Yorker, be featured by PBS in an "American Masters" documentary and win a Grammy in 1999 for Best Long Form Music Video.

The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 1996 and their landmark debut album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico," was added to the Library of Congress' registry in 2006.

--Additional material by
Hillel Italie, Associated Press

October 28, 2013 - 4:00pm


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