• Germany's news in English

Lou Reed's dark, drug-fuelled Berlin

The Local · 28 Oct 2013, 11:00

Published: 28 Oct 2013 11:00 GMT+01:00

The singer and guitarist, who died after failing to recover from a liver transplant earlier this year, was known for his dark, poetic lyrics and distinctive deadpan delivery.

The New York singer launched his career with his band Velvet Underground in the late 1960s. The band, managed by artist Andy Warhol, was not initially a commercial success but gained recognition later after picking up a dedicated cult following.

After leaving the band in 1970, Reed found international fame two years later with hits Walk on the Wild Side and Perfect Day from his second solo album Transformer.

Fewer people will be familiar with Reed's follow-up 1973 concept album Berlin, which tells the story of Jim and Caroline, a doomed pair struggling with drug addiction in the then-divided German capital.

The album, slammed at the time by fans and critics as depressing, depicts the city as a vice pit of prostitution, drugs, domestic violence, mental illness and suicide.

Ironically, Reed had never set foot in West Berlin at the time of writing - first visiting after David Bowie moved there in 1975, according to Welt newspaper.

Later he spent a short time living in a shared flat in the Schöneberg district with musicians Bowie and Iggy Pop, where he is said to have indulged in a wide range of drugs, including heroin.

After leaving to return to New York, Reed often came back to tour in Germany over the decades, regularly visiting Cologne, Hamburg, Munich and Düsseldorf. He was said to have been pleased at the way Berlin had developed after the fall of the Wall.

CLICK HERE for photos of Lou Reed in Germany

"The people here seem to be happier now," said Reed on returning to the city in 2007 for the first live performance of his long-forgotten album Berlin, which was then rediscovered as a dark masterpiece.

Reed also took inspiration from Germany for his last studio recording – a collaboration with metal band Metallica. The concept album Lulu is based on works by German playwright Frank Wedekind and includes a particularly gory song called Brandenburg Gate.

Story continues below…

READ MORE: Bowie rekindles Berlin love affair on new album

The Local/jlb

Follow us on Twitter @thelocalgermany

Like The Local Germany on Facebook

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Symbols of migrant plight to go on show in Bonn museum
Photo: DPA

A people smugglers' car, a dinghy and a life jacket are among items related to Europe's migration crisis due to go on display at a German museum.

Green party demand 'quick and easy' citizenship for Brits
Photo: DPA

The Green party has called for Brits living in Germany to be offered a painless path to obtaining dual citizenship as to "reassure them over the future".

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Far-right AfD reach record high in national poll
AfD leader Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) was backed by 16 percent of respondents in a new poll, which was a new high for the upstart populist party.

Bautzen youth beat up pensioner in racist attack
Photo: DPA

In the Saxon town of Bautzen, which has become a byword for racism and anti-migrant sentiment, two youths have attacked a 72-year-old man, shouting 'foreigners out'.

German lawmakers ratify landmark Paris climate accord
The German parliament (Bundestag). Photo: DPA.

Germany's lower of house of parliament on Thursday ratified the Paris agreement on climate change, following in the footsteps of 60 other countries that have committed to the landmark agreement designed to stem the planet's rising temperatures.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd