Lou Reed, whose band the Velvet Underground became one of the most influential in rock by fusing art and music in collaboration with artist Andy Warhol in 1960s New York, died today at the age of 71, Rolling Stone reported.
The magazine gave scant details about the death, and Reed's representatives could not immediately be reached to confirm the news. But online tributes were pouring in on social media after a message sent earlier in the day on Reed's Twitter and Facebook pages read simply “The Door.”
The Velvet Underground never achieved much commercial success, but revolutionized rock in the 1960s and 70s with a mixture of thrashing guitar licks and smooth melodies sung by Reed or the sultry German model Nico, who briefly collaborated with the band at Warhol's insistence.
The band has long been recognized as a major musical influence on punk and art rock, as reflected in a quote often attributed to musician Brian Eno that, “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”
An admitted hard drinker and drug user for many years, Reed underwent a liver transplant earlier this year at the Cleveland Mayo Clinic, his wife, Laurie Anderson, told The Times of London, after he had canceled five California concert dates scheduled in April.
“I am a triumph of modern medicine,” Reed posted on his website on June 1, 2013, without directly acknowledging the transplant. “I look forward to being on stage performing, and writing more songs to connect with your hearts and spirits and the universe well into the future."