"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out."
-- Lou Reed
The world lost an important piece of itself with the passing of Lou Reed and it's appropriate to stop and take stock of the greatness beyond the notes. My experience and time with Lou Reed was limited to two weeks in 1986 when I organized and oversaw concerts for human rights for Amnesty International. Bono of U2 had recruited Lou Reed to play on the "Conspiracy of Hope" tour, which was a six city tour of the USA for Amnesty International. His fellow bands included the police, U2, Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Sting, The Neville brothers, Joan Baez and many others as we went from San Francisco to LA to Denver, Atlanta, Chicago and New York City for the finale on MTV for 11 hours of nonstop music. Bill Graham in the kick-off press conference called him "the Zane Gray of the music world." He told Bill he did not like the reference but also said it was true.
My longest session with him was at lunch on the day of the Denver show. He had done a number of call ins to help sell the tickets. Lou was dumbfounded why these tickets had not sold. I told him the problem of walk up was big in Denver and Bill Graham had told Barry Fay, the promoter in Denver, to sell the tickets by mail. That did not work in Denver. About a third of the seats were vacant even for 36 dollars to see all that talent. But Lou went to work along with the others visiting and calling stations.
Lou told me his funniest moment was in the USSR when one of the bands he played behind of said that rock and roll came out of the USSR. I would guess that Lou delivered one of his famous stares.
Others can write about his music and influence a lot better than me. I found Lou Reed to be 'there' for Amnesty International. His remarks at press conferences were limited but heartfelt and serious as a heart attack. He brought New York City to the table for the venues he played in.
I send my best regards to Laurie Anderson, his partner, and all the supporters and fans of Lou Reed. He was truly singular in music, life and loves. Like Joe Strummer, he meant something real, hard, beautiful and worthwhile. May his memory bring more magic and less loss.
May he rest in peace.