Lewis Allan Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013) was an American musician, singer and songwriter. He was the guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of the rock band the Velvet Underground, with a solo career that spanned five decades. The Velvet Underground had little success during their active years, but later gained a significant cult following to become one of the most widely acclaimed and influential bands in rock history.
Reed's 1973 single "Walk on the Wild Side" crossed over to mainstream, but although major label attempts to repeat its success were critically acclaimed, they did not translate to sales numbers, leading to a descent into serious drug addiction that crippled much of his later life and career. New York (1989) is recognised as the height of his mid period. He was inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once as a member of the Velvet Underground in 1996, and again as a solo artist in 2014.
In May 2013, Reed underwent a liver transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. Afterwards, on his website, he wrote of feeling "bigger and stronger" than ever, but on October 27, 2013, he died from liver disease at his home in Southampton, New York, at the age of 71.
David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Morrissey, Iggy Pop, Courtney Love, Lenny Kravitz, Miley Cyrus, Samuel L. Jackson, Kanye West, Ricky Gervais, Ryan Adams, Elijah Wood, Howard Stern and many others paid tribute to Reed. Pearl Jam dedicated their song "Man of the Hour" to Reed at their show in Baltimore and then played "I'm Waiting for the Man". On the day of his death, the Killers dedicated their rendition of "Pale Blue Eyes" to Reed at the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. Phish opened their show in Hartford with "Rock & Roll", after which Trey Anastasio asked the audience for a moment of silence for one of the "greatest artists to ever live".
Former Velvet Underground members Maureen Tucker and John Cale made statements on Reed's death, and notables from far outside the music industry paid their respects on Twitter, including Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Salman Rushdie. On November 7, 2013 Reed's mother Toby died at the age of 93, 11 days after Reed's death.