The 30 Most Badass Guitarists of All Time
Players whose talents, attitude and style have made the guitar the coolest instrument ever.
Born March 2, 1942
Bands The Velvet Underground, solo
Iconic Guitars Gretsch Country Gentleman (Velvets), Schecter, Klein, Sadowsky and other customs
Coolest Riff “Sweet Jane”—Loaded (The Velvet Underground)
The dark underbelly is Lou Reed’s comfort zone. Despair and degradation are his muses. Emerging in the mid Sixties at the helm of the Velvet Underground, he offered up a gritty black-and-white alternative to the rainbow-colored pyschedelia of the prevailing rock culture. He brought us along, albeit reluctantly, to meet junkies and hustlers, S&M bondage goddesses and suicidal transvestites. He was one of the first rock guitarists to embrace chaos truly and wholeheartedly.
But the avant-garde din of Velvet Underground rave-ups seemed a genteel curtain raiser compared with the full-bore cacophony of Lou’s 1975 solo opus Metal Machine Music. The noise-guitar side of Lou’s legacy set the stage for cutting-edge genres like industrial, art damage, dream pop, grunge and present-day noise exponents, like Wolf Eyes and Yellow Swans.
But Lou’s edgy lyrical stance and image spawned something even more fundamental to deviant aesthetics: punk rock. It is with considerable justice that he graced the first cover of Punk magazine in 1976 and was subsequently dubbed the Godfather of Punk. Lou embodied a new kind of rebel hero, an amalgam of two distinctly different but equally vilified social pariahs: the disaffected intellectual and the scumbag street hustler. In recent years, he’s added a third persona: the grumpy old man.
And let's not forget his recent album with Metallica ... Still, there can be no underestimating Lou’s immense contribution to rock or the fierceness of his commitment to obtaining guitar tones and lyrical images that cut like a knife and leave a permanent scar.
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