The singer was a “singular, unique talent”, a “trailblazer who played by his own rules”, artists said.
Reed, responsible for the likes of ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ and ‘Perfect Day’, had a life-saving liver transplant earlier this year. He died in New York of a liver-related ailment
Celebrities across the world took to Twitter to pay tribute to the iconic musician.
David Bowie posted a picture of himself together with Reed on his website with the words: “David Bowie said of his old friend: ‘He was a master.’’’
Iggy Pop wrote on his Twitter page: “Devastating news.”
John Cale, who co-founded the Velvet Underground with Reed in 1965, wrote on his Facebook page: “The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet... I’ve lost my ’schoolyard buddy’.”
Nikki Sixx of heavy metal band Motley Crüe said: “RIP Lou Reed. Thank you for your beautiful/dark lyrics/music and stance on life. You inspired me from my teenage years right up till today.”
Actress Whoopi Goldberg tweeted: “The great & amazing Lou Reed has died my condolences 2 his wife Laurie Anderson. Lou was 1 of a kind & this coloured girl still says dededede...”
Tom Morello, guitarist with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, said: “My intro to Lou Reed/Velvet Underground was Jane’s Addiction cover of ‘Rock n Roll’. He was a singular, unique talent. RIP Lou and thanks.”
Paul Stanley of Kiss called Reed “a musician, artist and trailblazer who played by his own rules”.
Comedian Ricky Gervais said Reed was “one of the greatest artists of our time”, while actor Samuel L Jackson tweeted: “R.I.P. Lou Reed. Just met at the GQ Awards. The music of my generation. Still Relevant!”
The last tweet sent by Reed on his official Twitter account, hours before news of his death emerged, simply said: “The Door.” The tweet links through to a picture of a door, with a poster of Reed on it.
Earlier this year, Reed’s wife Laurie Anderson told The Times he “was dying” before the operation in April at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic.
The Velvet Underground, who were active in the 1960s and 1970s, became known for their fusion of art and music, including collaborations with the godfather of Pop Art, Andy Warhol.
Despite modest sales during their time together, the band developed a cult following and enjoyed posthumous acclaim for years after their final performance together.
The band are regularly cited as among the greatest influences on contemporary rock music.
However, Reed’s lyrics also drew criticism from those troubled with the content of some Velvet Underground songs — with themes of sexual ambivalence, sadomasochism, and drug use described as particularly unpalatable.
Reed, who was notoriously difficult to interview, also spoke at length of his past alcohol and drug use, anecdotally recalled in the likes of the seven-minute ode to the class A drug ‘Heroin’, while ‘Venus in Furs’ and ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ also provoked concern from those of a conservative disposition.
As a solo artist, his work was revered, with singles from his David Bowie-produced Transformer album going on to score countless television programmes often unsuited and completely unconnected to the songs’ dark lyrical content.