Lou Reed passed away this weekend at the age of 71. So people are once again trying to put the rock 'n' roll legends music and cultural influence in some sort of perspective—including his ambiguous sexuality.
Reed first gained fame with The Velvet Underground, which cultivated an androgynous image, and was a fave of Andy Warhol and The Factory. He later wrote and sang about gay and transgender friends, long before it was fashionable. He even sang about his own experience with electroshock treatment as a teenager to curb “homosexual tendencies” in his 1974 song “Kill Your Sons.”
In a piece at Slate titled "Was Lou Reed the First Openly Bisexual Rock Star?", Mark Joseph Stern writes that Reed was "rumored to have pursued a number of same-sex lovers, though most of these stories remain pure scuttlebutt."
But we're not as interested in all the speculation surrounding Reed's sexuality. Instead, we want to celebrate the fact that he immortalized Candy Darling in not one, but two songs—"Walk on the Wild Side" and "Candy Says"—and later discovered Antony Hegarty, first as a backup singer, then helping him reach a larger audience with his band Antony and the Johnsons. He was also pals with Rufus Wainwright and the McGarrigle clan (even performing at their Christmas concerts). To remember Reed, we've selected these five songs/clips—of course, there are many, many more—to celebrate and enjoy his diverse interests and influences that continued into the 21st century.
Antony and the Johnsons "Fistful of Love" (feat. Lou Reed)
Lou Reed & Antony Sing "Sweet Jane"
Lou Reed & Antony Sing "Perfect Day" Live
Antony & Lou Reed Sing "Candy Says"
And here's Lou Reed performing at Carnegie Hall with Rufus Wainwright et al: