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Lou Reed Dead at 71: His Life in Photos

A look back at the moments that made Lou Reed a rock 'n' roll icon.

Bernd Kammerer/AP

Bernd Kammerer/AP

On Sunday, Velvet Underground frontman and rock legend Lou Reed passed away at age 71. Known for revolutionizing the music scene starting in the late 1960s, he was still producing music until his last album, Lulu, in 2011. The rockstar's cause of death is unknown, but after a lifetime of hard living, he underwent a liver transplant six months ago. Here, in 2004, a year before his double album The Raven was released, Reed took the stage at the Old Opera House in Frankfurt.

Andrew H. Walker/Getty

David Bowie and Reed, the aging yet prevailing kings of rock 'n' roll, pose together at the opening of Lou Reed's New York photography exhibit at Gallery at Hermes in 2006. "I just wanted to document some beauty," the budding photographer told NPR the same year. "I was taking these pictures for myself because I just think they're so pretty."

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In 2007, Reed sat in a room snapping pictures of onlookers snapping pictures during the opening of his exhibition, "Lou Reed's New York" in Galerie Serieuze Zaken Studioos (Serious Business Studios) in Amsterdam. How meta.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Few pictures say rockstar like this one of Reed in his '70s glory. He had a signature method of marrying many genres; in his early work it ranged from avant-garde to street rock, and later from meditation sounds to the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe. 

Ebet Roberts

The Velvet Underground served as artist Andy Warhol's house band at the era-defining studio, "The Factory," and the rockers also graced the stage at his wild events in the late '60s. Here, the two huddle at a David Johansen show at New York City's historic music club Bottom Line in 1978.

Mark Shenley/ Camera Press/Redux

Complete with a 30-piece ensemble band, Reed performed his 1973 classic Berlin—often called the most depressing album ever written—live on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo in London during a 2007 revival tour.

Called a mentor by Reed, Andy Warhol initially managed the Velvet Underground and encouraged them to take on German singer Nico as a collaborator—a move that would later go down in rock history. A number of Reed's songs played homage to Warhol and the eccentric cast of characters that comprised The Factory, Warhol's studio.


During the last half century, Reed managed to transform the music scene in New York and worldwide.  He will be remembered by his influential discography.