What Goes On… A Tribute to Lou Reed

What Goes On… A Tribute to Lou Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)

“Just a couple of weeks ago Lou did a photo session intended to become a print ad for his friend Henri Seydoux’s French audio headphones company Parrot. The renowned photographer Jean Baptiste Mondino took the shots, and this was the very last shot he took. Always a tower of strength.” (Sarig, Tom http://www.loureed.com/inmemoriam/)

A Tribute to Lou Reed - Fresh Print Magazine

Photographer Jean Baptiste Mondino

“Lou Reed doesn’t just write about squalid characters, he allows them to leer and breathe in their own voices, and he colors familiar landscapes through their own eyes. In the process, Reed has created a body of music that comes as close to disclosing the parameters of human loss and recovery, as we’re likely to find. That qualifies him, in my opinion, as one of the few real heroes rock & roll has raised.” (Gilmore, Mikal. “Lou Reed’s heart of darkness”, Rolling Stone Magazine, March 22, 1979 pp. 8, 12)

Music legend Lou Reed is one of punk rocks most important descendants. He has cascaded through centuries with his music, inspiring his fans young and old. It is often argued that Reed achieved his success in the music industries as a solo artist. As a longtime fan of Reed myself, I believe the music he created while being a part of the Velvet Underground (John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker & Lou Reed) is what captivated his audiences the most. The Velvet Underground not only influenced the music industry, but also helped to shape the world of modern art in 1966 and 1967  when they were the house band at their producer Andy Warhol’s “Factory” studio and a huge part of Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable (EPI) events. I have always found this connection to be intriguing. To be honest, I’m not the biggest Warhol fan. I do, however, believe this was the perfect scenario to compare how modern art and music balance hand in hand as these artists inspired each other to succeed in creative practice. It’s commonly known that Warhol’s exposure at Factory amped the scene for the Velvet Underground. Along with many other artists, the Velvet Underground’s eclectic sounds shaped and inspired Warhol – leading him to fame as well.

Velvet Underground -A Tribute to Lou Reed

Velvet Underground – Photo by – Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

After quitting the Velvet Underground in August 1970, Reed took a job at his father’s tax accounting firm as a typist for a short time, but went back to music in 1971 releasing his first self titled solo album. In 1972 he released his second solo album Transformer, which was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson.

Since the 1960’s Lou Reed has shaped and inspired many artists and musicians not only during his time in the Velvet Underground but also throughout his solo career.  For example, I see how his sole top 20 hit “Walk on the Wild Side” was not only one of the songs that gave him claim to fame in the UK, but became the kind of music that influenced artists like David Bowie (also an influential virtuoso) and other glam rockers. The way Lou Reed made over his image so many times made him somewhat of a chameleon. Reed morphed his style to fit his moods and to fit the music he created throughout his centuries of success. Throughout these years Lou Reed went from glam rocker to punk anarchist to modern rock. As has often been written, he expanded the vocabulary of rock & roll lyrics into the previously forbidden territory of kinky sex, drug use (and abuse), decadence, transvestites, homosexuality, and suicidal depression.  Whether a fan or not, it’s rare to see someone deny Reed’s prominence in the music world and the influence he had on other musicians and artists.

Lou Reed passed away earlier this year in October 2013.  The 71-year-old was open about his own struggles, including addiction, and perhaps it was this connection with the human condition that spurred his advocacy on causes ranging from AIDS to LGBTQ issues to politics. “I’m a humanist,” said Reed, who had taken to a lifestyle of healthy food and t’ai chi at the time. “These are really terribly rough times, and we really should try to be as nice to each other as possible.”

What goes on -A Tribute to Lou Reed

The Babyshirts (Gerry McGilly on vocals/guitar, Blair Streeter on bass & Chris Barnes on drums) rocking out on stage for the first time in 12 years for the Lou Reed Tribute Show “What Goes On..” – Photo by Joanna Katchutas

It was Lou Reed’s inspiration, his talent and his humanitarian efforts, which inspired the amazing night of tribute to one of rock and roll’s greatest figures, Lou Reed.  “Lou Reed’s passing was one of the more somber moments of the past year, but you can close out 2013 on a high note by enjoying some of the music he created with the help of a York Region resident” (Music Notes: York Region’s Groopie takes a Walk on the Wild Side, Vaughan Citizen by Gilles LeBlanc) “What Goes On…” was a one-night only tribute show organized on Sat Dec 21 at The Sister on Queen Street in Toronto.  Local Toronto band King Beez hosted the event welcoming friends and other Lou Reed fans to come pay tribute as well. This fantastic line-up included Christian D (Christian D and the Hangovers), Arthur Renwick, Shotgun Wedding Band, Janitors, Noble Savages, Matt Groopie, Spike Love (Lavender Orange), Alex Pulec (The Nursery), Michelle McKinnon (Skirt People), the Babyshirts, Alex Ross, Johnny and the X’s and more great, local Toronto bands, who came together to play great tunes for a good cause. “I’m a big fan of Lou Reed and instead of charging a fee to come in, we wanted to donate food to the food bank for Christmas because that’s the way Lou would have wanted it.” Explained the show coordinator Matt Groupie. “It was a  joint idea between King Bees and Fred, the part-owner/booking agent for The Sister.”  The turnout was a huge success regardless of the ice storm trying to cancel people’s plans and the busy event created a mountain of food donations for the local food bank!  It was amazing as well to see how effective social media could be. The posting for the Facebook event for “What Goes Around…” went far enough to reach praise from Maureen Tucker, Drummer for the Velvet Underground!


What goes on - A Tribute to Lou Reed - Fresh Print Magazine

Maureen Tucker commented on Facebook Post “Lou Reed is a solid influence for many reasons.


“His death was deeply felt by everyone in the music community.  It is great to be part of a tribute just for him and to be able play his songs that have influenced our music for so many years.” – Jonie Lament, Johnny and the Ex’s

Joanna Katchutas is an alumnus of OCAD U, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography (2010). Joanna currently works full-time as a Freelance Photographer and Photojournalist mainly in Toronto. Read more about Joanna on our Contributors page.