NEW YORK CITY - Lou Reed, the American music pioneer who fused folk's lyricism with punk rock's energy and darkness, died Sunday of complications following liver surgery. He was 71.
Reed's literary agent Andrew Wylie said the singer-songwriter died at 11am on Long Island, the sprawling New York area that includes the borough of Brooklyn where he was born.
"The reason was complications following the liver transplant," Wylie told AFP, referring to an operation Reed underwent in May.
Viewed by many as the godfather of punk, Reed forged a new cultural universe with the Velvet Underground, the band he formed in New York with Welsh musician John Cale in 1965, a time of evolving youth identity.
"The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet...I've lost my 'school-yard buddy," Cale wrote on his website on Sunday.
The arthouse group was popular though not particularly successful in terms of sales during the 1960s.
But Reed's association with the era's pop art luminary Andy Warhol helped the band gain a hip and burgeoning following, with the colorful artist doing the instantly iconic banana cover art for the group's self-titled debut album.
Warhol became the Velvets' manager in 1965, and they provided music for his multimedia roadshow the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, and became the house band at his famed New York studio, The Factory.
"The Velvet Underground & Nico," featured the pounding beat of "I'm Waiting for the Man," and the much slower "Heroin," which was regarded as a dark testament to the drug's power over its users.
Reed became not only rock's most famous chronicler of city life, but had an indelible influence on generations of rock bands such as REM, Nirvana and Sonic Youth, among many others.