‘No one ever confused Lou Reed for an Osmond…’ writes New York Times reporter Alex Williams. However, a new biography by Howard Sounes published last week in the U.K. is being rigorously challenged by those who were close to the late icon.
As a measure of just how contentious Sounes’ latest tome is, Williams got on-the-record reaction from someone who doesn’t usually chime in:
Reed’s longtime wife and manager, Sylvia Reed (now Ramos), broke what she said was an 18-year media silence to dispute Mr. Sounes’s portrait for this article.
“That’s not a person I recognize,” Ms. Ramos said of the Lou Reed portrayed in the book. Many damning anecdotes, she added, seem to come from people Reed knew in the hazy drug-fueled 1970s “that I know for a fact were not capable of remembering anything they did in any given six-month period during that time, much less come back all these years later and say, ‘Oh, yes, I was there, this is what was going on.’ ”
Williams also spoke to Sounes, who conducted 140 interviews for the book. The author cites mental illness as a key factor in the behavior documented, as well as a lack of immediate, full Velvet Underground recognition:
The band’s albums are now considered among the most influential in rock history. But at the height of the hippie era, they were ignored by many critics and the public, which was more interested in flower power than the Velvets’ brooding art rock.
The failure to break through left him bitter, Mr. Sounes said in the interview: “Reed spent five years creating some of the most inventive and original music of the 1960s, and nobody cared. The week of the Woodstock festival, the Velvet Underground were playing at a roadhouse in Massachusetts.”
Previously on FishbowlNY:
New York Post Maps ‘Lou Reed’s Town’
Lou Reed Reviews Kanye West
Velvet Underground Fans Give Thanks for New Live Track
[Jacket cover courtesy: Doubleday]