Lou Reed dies; rock critic Robert Hilburn remembers 'warmest guy'

Rock critic Robert Hilburn, who wrote much about Lou Reed during his more than 30 years at the Los Angeles Times, told The Times on Sunday that of all the people he had interviewed over the years, Reed was the most different from his public image.

"His image was cutting edge, darkness and confrontation, and often when he’d meet a journalist, he would be that way," said Hilburn. "It was almost as if he were acting out his image, but as the conversation goes longer and if you could make him relate to you, he was the sweetest, warmest guy."

He then continued:

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"He was one of the boldest and most liberated rock 'n' roll songwriters ever. There was a real literary edge to his work. He took on subjects that were off-limits at the time. He talked about heroin and illicit sex at a time when the music industry didn’t want to hear it -- critics loved him, but it took him years and years to find an audience."

That audience, said Hilburn, came in large part thanks to David Bowie, who co-produced Reed's solo album "Transformer." One of Reed's most popular tunes, "Walk on the Wild Side," was on that album,  and it really pushed him into the limelight.

" 'Walk on the Wild Side' was a very catchy song," said Hilburn. "His career was up and down, but he continued to grow as an artist."

And his music continued to grow a fan base.

"It’s such a tremendous loss," said Hilburn. "And a surprise. You knew he had the liver transplant, you just somehow thought he was tough enough to survive anything."


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