In the classic song “Rock And Roll” Lou Reed, who died this week at the age of 71, sang of a girl named Jenny who’s “Life was saved by rock and roll.” Many would say Lou Reed’s music did the same for them. The Godfather of punk wrote about drug addicts, drag queens, and other denizens of New York’s underworld and basically created the idea and many of the sonic hallmarks of alternative rock with his band The Velvet Underground. Though a distinct vocalist and innovative guitar player, it is his songwriter that he will be most remembered for. The list of classics he penned is staggering; “Heroin,” “Pale Blue Eyes,” “Sweet Jane” and “Walk On The Wild Side” to name but a few. One of the qualities of a great song is that it can be reinterpreted by different artists and still remain true to its musical essence and many of Reed’s numbers have found their ways into the repertoires of some of rock’s biggest bands. Check out some of music’s most awesome, unusual and unknown Lou Reed covers and see why fans are still mourning his death.
Watch ’Lou Reed’s Berlin’ live concert on VH1 Classic Friday November 1st at 8pm.
Nirvana “Here She Comes Now Now”
The most important band of the 90’s recorded this song for a limited edition 7″ in 1991 before breaking big.
The Yardbirds “I’m Waiting For The Man”
Though only available in rough bootleg form, the seminal British invasion group added this song to their repertoire late in their life before guitarist Jimmy Page flew the coop to start Led Zeppelin.
Cowboy Junkies “Sweet Jane”
No one could have expected these alt-countrified Canadians to have a hit with their somnambulant version of this Velvet Underground standard but that’s exactly what happened when it was released in 1989.
Detroit “Rock ‘N’ Roll”
Led by ‘60s white soul legend Mitch Ryder, Detroit’s hard nosed version of this VU song was a regional Mid-Western hit and became the arrangement many bands copied for years to come.
The Black Crowes “Oh Sweet Nuthin’”
The Robinson brothers and crew turned this plaintive Velvet Underground ballad into a full-fledged Southern rock dual guitar tour de force on their Cabin Fever DVD.
Herbie Mann “Walk On The Wild Side”
Jazz flautist Herbie Mann upped the funk on this 1978 instrumental version of Reed’s most famous number. It’s somewhat hard to believe it’s the same song.
Eurythmics – “Satellite Of Love”
These ‘80s synth pop hit makers deliver an ambient version of one of Lou Reed’s most beloved numbers from his Transformer album.
Big Star “Femme Fatale”
‘70s heirs to The Velvet Underground’s title as Most Influential Band Despite Complete Commercial Failure, Big Star delivered a ragged heartbreaking cover of this song off The Velvet Underground’s debut album.
Leading lights of Britain’s early ‘80s Oi! Scene, these punkers show no mercy taking on this Lou Reed solo hit.
Roky Erickson “Heroin”
Acid-damaged psychedelic survivor Erickson tackled one of Reed’s most iconic songs on his solo album Gremlins Have Pictures.