Vevet Underground drummer Maureen "Moe" Tucker reflected on friend and former bandmate Lou Reed in an appreciation published this weekend by British newspaper the Observer. Reed, 71, died in October of complications from a May liver transplant.
"It's just dawning on me that he's not out there anymore," Tucker wrote in the piece, which chronicles her first meeting with Reed as well as how the Velvets transformed her from a simple pop drummer into one trafficking in the avant-garde. Tucker has kept a relatively low profile in recent years, sporadically and quietly releasing the occasionally low-fi rock 'n' roll album.
Tucker's musical relationship with Reed blossomed after he graduated in 1964 from Syracuse University with a bachelor's degree in English. The following year, he first performed with multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison and Tucker — a provocative bunch who came to call themselves the Velvet Underground.
The idea was to be exactly what the mid-'60s were not. The Velvet Underground aimed to rip the petals off flower power and focus on grimmer urban landscapes. It would not play blues or indulge in the popular R&B licks of the day, Reed vowed.
"This is going to be city," he said, reminiscing about the group's origin, at the 2008 South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas. "This is going to be pure."
Tucker says she arrived in the band "almost by accident," as the group's original drummer dropped out before the band played its first-ever three-song concert in New Jersey. She reflects on Reed as a "huge pop fan," and writes in the essay of listening to records in Reed's apartment.
Tucker also touches on Reed's acidic reputation, noting he could be "tough and grumpy."
"Didn't matter if it was a waiter or a record producer, he'd rip someone apart if things weren't up to scratch," Tucker writes. "He didn't suffer fools gladly. That's just the way he was, but he was also incredibly encouraging and generous."
Tucker writes that she kept in touch with Reed, but only saw him once every couple years. She admits to not knowing how ill he was, and says the death took her by surprise.
"I knew he'd had the liver transplant and he probably wouldn't be his old self, but I really wasn't prepared for the news," she writes. "It was hard. It is hard."
By the time the Velvet Underground dissolved in 1970, the group had released four albums and recorded enough material for the release of two others in the mid-1980s. Its best-known songs include "Sweet Jane" and "I'm Waiting for the Man."