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Rock legend Lou Reed dies at 71

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NEW: Reed "influenced probably millions of people," former drummer says

Velvet Underground, "Walk on the Wild Side" singer/songwriter Lou Reed dies at 71

His music often tackled taboo topics like drug addiction and homosexuality

Reed said he wanted to speak to people through music like Shakespeare did in his works

CNN —  

Lou Reed, who took rock ’n’ roll into dark corners as a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist for the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, died Sunday, his publicist said. He was 71.

The publicist, Peter Noble, confirmed Reed’s death but released no details. Reed had undergone a liver transplant in May, his wife, the musician/performance artist Laurie Anderson, disclosed over the summer.

Reed was a rock pioneer who went from record label songwriter to a member of the short-lived but innovative and influential Velvet Underground. The band and Reed’s solo work tackled taboo topics like drug addiction, paranoia and sexual deviancy in songs that were largely spare, muscular and often saturated in feedback.

“Lou Reed’s influence is one that there are really only a tiny handful of other figures who you can compare to him,” said Simon Vozick-Levinson, a senior editor at Rolling Stone.

“He spoke incredibly frankly about the realities of being an artist, be