Lou Reed: New York musician oil painting portrait

Lou Reed 1970s
Lou Reed portrait

My latest oil painting portrait, and this time it’s Lou Reed, New York musician and founder member of the legendary Velvet Underground. Best known in the UK for ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KaWSOlASWc and the BBC charity single ‘Perfect Day’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYEC4TZsy-Y. Lou Reed was a big influence on Bowie as well as a few of the bands who came out of the 70s punk explosion. . He had a track record of drugs and alcohol abuse although cleaned himself up in later years. Irascible and an absolute pain for rock journalists, Lou sung a lot about New York and its misfits. His songs touched on no go subjects junkies, transvestites, rent boys, bisexuality and were often no holds barred and provocative.

I chose this image which was probably around 1974 as it sums up Reed at his peak. This was on the back of his success with ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ in 1972. This was the Glam Rock period and Lou was all shades and leathers. He didn’t quite fit in with his British contemporaries (think Sweet, Slade, Glitter Band etc), being more street and savvy. Bowie (obviously), Roxy Music and Iggy Pop http://www.cordellgarfield.com/2018/08/21/iggy-pop-and-the-stooges-raw-power-1972-acrylic-painting/ were the closest to him in spirit at this time.

I really enjoyed painting this one, and it’s only a small oil painting (12 x 10). The pose is great, not sure if the two fingers were a deliberate set up but it works and fits Reed’s punk image. It really is a picture of its time, not long before punk/new wave hit the streets. For the painting aficionados out there I worked quickly, alla prima with a fairly limited palette.

Top Lou Reed song? Difficult to choose but here are some links to a small selection of some more well known tracks:

Sweet Jane – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHxLawJONeQ

Pale Blue Eyes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KisHhIRihMY

Vicious – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM9JG-oQm1Y