Lou Reed: The King of New York - Will Hermes Book

Lou Reed: The King of New York - Will Hermes Book

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“The only Lou Reed bio you need to read.” The Washington Post

A Rolling Stone best music book of 2023 | One of Pitchfork’s ten best music books of 2023 | A Variety best music book of the year | A Kirkus Reviews best nonfiction book of 2023

“There have been many biographies of Lou Reed, but Will Hermes has written the definitive life . . . He has brought to the assignment a sharp eye, a clear head, a lucid prose style, and a determination to let Lou be Lou, without judgment.” —Lucy Sante, author of Low Life


The most complete and penetrating biography of the rock master, whose stature grows every year.

Since his death in 2013, Lou Reed’s living presence has only grown. The great rock poet presided over the marriage of Brill Building pop and the European avant-garde, and left American culture transfigured. In Lou Reed: The King of New York, Will Hermes offers the definitive narrative of Reed’s life and legacy, dramatizing his long, brilliant, and contentious dialogue with fans, critics, fellow artists, and assorted habitués of the demimonde. We witness Reed’s complex partnerships with David Bowie, Andy Warhol, John Cale, and Laurie Anderson; track the deadpan wit, street-smart edge, and poetic flights that defined his craft as a singer and songwriter with the Velvet Underground and beyond; and explore the artistic ambition and gift for self-sabotage that he took from his mentor the poet Delmore Schwartz.

As Hermes follows Reed from Lower East Side cold-water flats to the eminent status he later achieved, he also tells the story of New York City as a cultural capital. The first biographer to draw on the New York Public Library’s much-publicized Reed archive, Hermes employs the library collections, the release of previously unheard recordings, and a wealth of recent interviews with Reed’s contemporaries to give us a new Lou Reed—a pioneer in writing about nonbinary sexuality and gender identity, a committed artist who pursued beauty and noise with equal fervor, and a turbulent and sometimes truculent man whose emotional imprint endures.