Fair warning for any Lou Reed fans out there: You are probably not going to enjoy this story.
In Howard Sounes’ new book, Notes From The Velvet Underground, a lot of information about Reed is revealed, much of which makes him out to be an extremely unsavory character. One of the more eye-catching revelations is that, at one point, he referred to Bob Dylan by a particularly vulgar anti-semitic slur:
Reed was well-known for his outrageous public statements—he once told a journalist: “I don’t like n—-rs like Donna Summer.” In private he was just as offensive; one old friend told Sounes that he jealously described Bob Dylan as a “pretentious kike.”
A bit odd when you consider that Reed was Jewish himself, but the general vibe here is that Reed had retrograde attitudes about several groups people, including his own. While that would be bad enough, things get even worse when the book begins discussing Reed’s horrible treatment of women. There is enough evidence here to suggest that Reed was a serial abuser:
Bettye Kronstad, who married Reed in 1973, described life on tour with the tempestuous rock star. “He would, like, pin you up against a wall,” she said. “Tussle you. Hit you… shake you… And then one time he actually gave me a black eye.”
Allan Hyman, an old school friend, said Reed had even been happy to strike a girlfriend while having dinner with him and his wife. “She would say something. He’d get pissed off at what she said and smash her around the back of the head. [My wife said,] ‘Lou, if you continue to hit her, you have to leave.’ And then he smacks her in the back of the head. So she said, ‘Get out!’ ”
Sounes said there was a clear pattern of this sort of behavior. “It’s quite clear that he was a misogynist and he did hit women. They weren’t all knocked about but he knocked his first wife about and he wrote repeatedly about violence towards women—he seemed absolutely obsessed with the subject.”
So, there you have it. Lou Reed was a virulent racist who frequently abused women. Hope you’re having a nice Monday. Of course, behavior like this is hardly uncommon among our favorite musicians. John Lennon had a long history of abusing women as well. So did Miles Davis and James Brown. One of the most uncomfortable aspects of loving art is knowing that some of the most brilliant work was made by some of the worst human beings.
(Via The Daily Beast)