Lou Reed had strong opinions in general, but he had very strong ones regarding his contemporaries. A page of an unknown magazine, that has been circulating on Twitter, collects a few of Reed’s opinions on many famous musicians and bands from Dylan to the Beatles, to Alice Cooper.
There is no date on the document, but it was probably written in the ‘70s, and Lou Reed sounds like an insufferable prick: he writes that he would like to tell Dylan to shut up at a party, he finds Pete Townshend talentless, the Kinks boring after a while, Frank Zappa pretentious (and a loser), Alice Cooper “the most disgusting aspect of rock music,” and he simply doesn’t like Roxy Music. He even disses California bands (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead) and calls them the “most untalented bores that ever came up.” There’s even a nasty and very condescending blurb on bandmate Doug Yule. On the other hand, he praises the Rolling Stones and the Beatles (“the most incredible songwriters ever”), admits he likes Creedance Clearwater Revival, and of course loves David Bowie, John Cale, Nico, and Andy Warhol.
The “funny” thing is that Reed said the complete opposite a few years later: he called the Beatles “garbage” in this 1987 interview, and he praised Dylan in this 1989 Rolling Stone interview: “I always go out and get the latest Dylan album. Bob Dylan can turn a phrase, man. Like his last album [Down in the Groove], his choice of songs. ‘Going 90 miles an hour down a dead-end street’ — I’d give anything if I could have written that.”
Anyone can change their mind, but this is quite extreme and extremely arrogant. Lou Reed also accepted to deliver a glorifying speech at Frank Zappa’s posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. So, was he a complete hypocrite? Or had he completely changed his mind once again? You can also find photos of Lou Reed and Alice Cooper, having a good time together like the “old friends” they were. I am sure there are other examples of Reed making a complete U-turn on his opinionated statements.
If it is entertaining to read his vitriolic declarations on other musicians, Reed sure knew how to look like a pretentious douchebag. Did he ever apologize? Probably not. But you have to wonder, when was he sincere… if he ever was?
He would not get away with this today because of the constant echo chamber of social media. Anyway, he would probably have been canceled today mostly for these reasons. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should stop listening to his music.
Read Lou Reed’s views below:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs are playing at the Hollywood Bowl
the best country rocker of the year
Appearances and performances from over 60 acts
5 Seconds Of Summer is the fourth # 1 in four weeks
a house take on hyperpop as reimagined by Madonna…
a perfect, arrogant, guitar smashing masterpiece
not all of it is for everyone
Roxy Music had decided to come back with a bang