Lou Reed, the prolific solo artist and incredibly influential frontman of proto-punk band The Velvet Underground, will be honored in a day of remembrance on July 30 at New York City’s Lincoln Center following his tragic, sudden death in October of 2014. The tribute, organized by Reed’s widow Laurie Anderson and friend Hal Wilner, will span the entire day and is titled The Bells, a nod to Reed’s ninth solo studio album, featuring a laundry list of activities, covers and special guests that will pay homage to Reed’s music.
The event kicks off with beginner’s tai chi lessons from tai chi master and teacher Ren Guang Yi, who taught Reed during his lifetime, and will be followed by a demonstration later in the afternoon. Throughout the day, Reed’s music will also be honored by a variety of artists: members of Sonic Youth and New York Dolls, ANOHNI, Mark Kozelek, Laurie Anderson, Bill Laswell, Lenny Kaye, The Bush Tetras, Jon Spencer, Joan As Police Woman and many more, on top of a few surprise performers. Drones, an avant-garde, experimental sound installation created with the sound of Reed’s guitars and amplifiers, will be featured.
Willem Dafoe, Steve Buscemi and others are also scheduled to read a selection from Reed’s many lyrics. A screening of Julian Schnabel’s documentary Berlin about the performances of Reed’s eponymous album, a majestic yet tragic rock opera about a doomed, troubled couple, will close out the event. The event’s organizers emphasize the loose, unrehearsed nature of the celebration, promising more than a few unplanned surprises to be scattered throughout the day.
“There was a blank page, six days before [the show],” Wilner said of the hasty efforts to pull the tribute together. “It’s an exciting thing because you get these moments that you probably wouldn’t get if something was rehearsed to death. The combination with something that’s kind of made up on the spot, I find that to be really exciting.”
Though neither Reed nor the Velvet Underground found much commercial success during their careers, both the singer and the band have since achieved cult status, with Reed and his music being cited as an inspiration by the likes of U2, Bowie, The Strokes, The Sex Pistols and many more musical groups considered to be revolutionary in their own rights. Reed’s legacy is truly unforgettable, and events like The Bells: A Daylong Celebration help preserve his memory to influence yet another new era of musicians – and the tribute is free to attend, to boot. Find out more about the event here.