Singer, songwriter Lou Reed dies, 71: reports

Washington: Iconic American singer-songwriter Lou Reed, a seminal figure who melded folk music`s lyricism with punk rock`s energy and darkness has died, US media reported today. He was 71.

Reed`s death, first reported by Rolling Stone Magazine, was confirmed by his agent to The Guardian newspaper of Britain. The New York Times said he died on Long Island.

"I`m afraid it`s true," his literary agent Andrew Wylie told the Times. "He was as great an artist as it`s possible to be in my opinion.
Reed, who was viewed by many as the godfather of punk music, forged a new cultural universe with his arthouse band the Velvet Underground
He became not only rock`s most famous chronicler of city life, but had an indelible influence on generations of rock bands like REM, Nirvana and Sonic Youth, among many others
The Brooklyn-born singer also spent time as a protege of pop art luminary Andy Warhol, a connection that helped land him a following in the 1960s.

Among his best-known works was `Walk on the Wild Side,` an ode to the underground sex- and drug-fueled lifestyle of a cross-dresser, with explosive lyrics, an unforgettable drum-and-bass shuffle and controversial "colored girls" backup singers
For all of the accolades, not everyone was a fan of Reed`s work
He infuriated critics - as well as some of his dearest fans - when he released in 1975 his "Metal Machine Music," a 65-minute noise opus drenched in guitar feedback deemed unlistenable by most who heard it.

In 1979, Rolling Stone magazine derided it as "ear-wrecking electronic sludge."

Yet decades beyond the Velvets` reign as New York`s pre-eminent black-clad hipsters, Reed remained cool as ever in the eyes of music aficionados, often seen rocking leather pants and sipping chamomile tea.