Nightly News   |  October 28, 2013

Poet and contrarian Lou Reed, Velvet Underground musician, dies at 71

Velvet Underground singer and musician Lou Reed defined avant-garde and was a true rebel who made a big impact on generations of rock ‘n’ roll stars. NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> reed died this weekend. he survived a liver transplant that extended his life. but doctors determined there was nothing more they could do. his fans reacted to the news and compared notes on the impact one man had on all of modern music .

>> he might have been the largest single influence on the largest number of musicians in over a generation. lou reed ignored the old guard and defined avant-garde. he was a true rebel, poet, militant, contrarian. his music wasn't for everybody but it ended up affecting what everyone heard.

>> i had these great novelist ambitions about it. i wanted to make it a rock and roll songs about things that mattered.

>> reporter: born in brooklyn and raised on long island he was a dark troubled kid treated with electroshock therapy. after graduating from syracuse, his early career was rough.

>> reporter: he wrote b about subjects people didn't talk b about at the time. it was a signal to the new york music under ground that it was safe to come out.

>> he knew he was a rock and roll singer. he loved the form. he wrote lyrics that reflected that that were primal, simple and beautiful.

>> reporter: he could be wildly experimental. he once made a double album of just guitar reverb which he himself admitted he couldn't listen to all the way through.

>> reporter: for all of his influence he had only one big commercial hit, " walk on the wild side " about the people around his friend and patron andy warhol . it is about sex, gender, drug and hustlers. he put them all in a strange place where the colored girls sing. doo, doo, doo, doo

>> i always ask people, what is it? i decided it's the doo, doo, doos.

>> he was revolutionary and the velvet underground helped inspire the velvet revolution against communism. when a young man brought a lou reed record back with him from new york and went on to lead a nation. lou reed dead at