Laurie Anderson has described Lou Reed’s final moments in a moving farewell written for Rolling Stone.
Anderson’s tribute describes how the couple met and married, and details Reed’s ill health over the past two years. It explains that Reed first became sick from treatments of interferon before developing liver cancer and advancing diabetes.
Writing about his final moments, Anderson says: “I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou’s as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn’t afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.”
Elsewhere in the tribute, Anderson admits that she knew little about Reed, his music or The Velvet Underground when they met in Munich in 1992. “I liked him right away, but I was surprised he didn’t have an English accent. For some reason I thought the Velvet Underground were British, and I had only a vague idea what they did,” she writes.
Lou Reed died on Sunday October 27 aged 71. His cause of death was confirmed as liver disease by his doctor, Dr Charles Miller of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where the singer had liver transplant surgery this year and was being treated again until last week.
Many other musicians have paid tribute to Reed, including David Bowie, John Cale and The Who.
Morrissey has also written a personal tribute to Reed.
You can hear Neil Young, Elvis Costello and Jim James cover a Lou Reed song here.
You can read a 2002 interview with Reed from the Uncut archives here.