RIP Lou Reed, 71

"Lou Reed, Velvet Underground Leader and Rock Pioneer, Dead at 71," Rolling Stone reports:

Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May.

With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, he was chameleonic, thorny and unpredictable, challenging his fans at every turn. Glam, punk and alternative rock are all unthinkable without his revelatory example. "One chord is fine," he once said, alluding to his bare-bones guitar style. "Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz."

On the other hand, Lou was smart enough to hire Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter to play on the 1973 tour that led to his brilliant Rock and Roll and Animal live album, and Wagner and Hunter could play. Their opening to Lou's Velvet-era "Sweet Jane" is a brilliant piece of musicianship: