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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

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FRESH AIR: Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis knew Velvet Underground co-founder Lou Reed and considered him a friend. So when it came time to write a biography of the late singer-songwriter, DeCurtis knew exactly what kind of book he would pen. “I wanted to write a book that took Lou… seriously,” DeCurtis says. “The kind of book that I was going to write about Lou was the kind of book he deserved.” As part of his research, DeCurtis interviewed many people Reed knew, including his first two wives. His biography, Lou Reed: A Life, paints a portrait of a complicated man who loved pop music, experimented with drugs and sex and had a history of domestic abuse. DeCurtis acknowledges that Reed, who LOU_REED_A_LIFEdied in 2013, may not have approved of all of the material in the book. But, he says, “It wasn’t like I had to go looking for the drugs and the sex. Lou wrote about it. It was just out there, so I felt it was fair game.”

PREVIOUSLY: According to Transformer, Victor Bockris’ exceptional Lou Reed bio, the first time Lou and John Cale played together was in 1965 at a gig at a high school in…wait for it, the Lehigh Valley.* After graduating Syracuse, Lou got himself hired as a house composer at Long Island’s Pickwick Records, a low budget record label specializing in cheap knock-offs of pop culture originals. High on methedrine, he wrote “The Ostrich” — think “Hang On Sloopy” covered by The Cramps — to cash in on the Do The…dance craze, as was the style of the day. The single was released in late 1964 under the name The Primitives, a non-existent group invented by Pickwick to cash in on the band-of-dudes-with-pudding-bowl-haircuts-wearing-black-turtlenecks-and-Beatle-boots band craze, as was the style of the day. TransformerPickwick booked tour dates for The Primitives, fronted by Lou and a live band thrown together by Pickwick, that included Cale, noted minimalist Tony Conrad and drummer Angus MacLise, all of whom played together in La Monte Young’s Dream Syndicate. They were hired by a Pickwick exec at an Upper West Side party because ‘they looked like a band.’ Without bothering to rehearse, The Primitives performed ”The Ostrich,” cue screaming teenage girls and the ersatz hysteria of phony Beatlemania. When it was over, the DJ hollered into the mic “These guys have got something, sure hope it isn’t catching!” MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Lou Reed On Guns & Ammo

PREVIOUSLY: VINTAGE VIOLENCE: A John Cale Q&A

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