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Electroshock, college radio and sunglasses: all the interesting facts about Lou Reed, who would have turned 81 today

Lewis Allan Reed was born on March 2, 1942 into a Jewish family at the Beth El Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. In 1960, Reed began attending Syracuse University, studying journalism, film directing and creative writing.

Here in 1964 Lou met John Cale, a Welsh composition student who had recently moved to the United States of America to study classical music: with him he would later start The Velvet Underground.

Lou Reed died on October 27, 2013 at the age of 71 following some complications related to the liver transplant he had undergone. His art, not only musical, will remain immortal: here are some interesting facts you may not have known about Lou Reed's extraordinary and intense life.

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Lou Reed would have turned 81 years old today
Lewis Allan Reed was born on 2 March 1942 into a Jewish family at the Beth El Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. In 1960, Reed began attending Syracuse University studying journalism, film directing and creative writing. There, in 1964, Lou met John Cale, a Welsh student who had recently moved to the United States to study classical music: with him he would later form The Velvet Underground. Lou Reed died on 27 October 2013 at the age of 71 following complications related to the liver transplant he had undergone. His art, not only musical, will remain immortal: here are some curiosities you might not have known about Lou Reed's extraordinary and intense life.
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Lou's complicated adolescence 
As recounted by the musician himself, when he was only 17 years old Lou was subjected by his parents to an elettroshock terapy, according to them necessary because it would heal the bisexuality that was manifesting in him. That event was very traumatic for Reed, so much so that he would recount this dramatic experience in several songs, most notably in the 1974 song "Kill Your Sons". Thereafter, the musician lived his sexuality freely, always declaring himself as a pansexual.
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He became interested in music through hosting a radio program
During his years at the Syracuse University, the future frontman of The Velvet Underground used to host a late-night radio program called "Excursions On A Wobbly Rail" at the radio station WAER. During the broadcast, Lou would play rhythm and blues and jazz songs: in this way the singer began to fall in love with music. Jazz influences can be heard in many of Reed's songs, such as in "Walk on the Wild Side".
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The love/hate relationship with David Bowie
Frequent guests of Andy Warhol’s Factory, David Bowie and Lou Reed were close friends. It was actually Bowie in 1972 that produced Reed's first solo album , "Transformer". Over the years, however, the two also clashed. In 1987, for example, during a dinner in London, Reed asked Bowie to produce his new record, but David said yes only on the condition that Lou had been sober the whole time: he punched him back. Apparently, the two also clashed physically in 1979 while at a bar table: the former Velvet Underground responded poorly to Bowie 's request to stop yelling, and a confrontation between the two ensued from there. In any case, when Reed died, Bowie said he grieved and that his friend/enemy was a Master.
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Lou Reed was a style icon
Especially as a young man, Lou was considered an idol to follow because of the way he dressed. In particular, the musician used to wear a black leather jacket, jeans, and dark teardrop sunglasses (often branded Ray-Ban or Louis Vuitton). Sunglasses often accompanied Reed throughout his life: in an interview, the singer-songwriter once said that he wore sunglasses during concerts because he was unable to look his audience in the eye.
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Lou Reed was passionate about oriental disciplines and in particular about Tai Chi
From the 1990s onward, Lou became passionate about Tibetan Buddhism and Tai Chi, following the teachings of the monk Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche from the 2000s. Often Lou also practiced Tai Chi during public performances. At the time of his death, his last wife, Laurie Anderson, reported that Lou was serene and accepted his end: up to an hour before his death, Reed was practicing his exercises, particularly the twenty-first form of Tai Chi, which represents the flowing of water.
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