Lou Reed is the focus of a new biography from Howard Sounes titled Notes from the Velvet Underground: The Life of Lou Reed. While the book covers the usual highlights, such as the late musician’s legendary rock ‘n’ roll career, there are inclusions of more shady subject matters. In particular, Sounes, who’s previously written about Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Paul McCartney (Fab), alleges that Reed had a dark history of abuse against woman.
As The Daily Beast notes, Sounes’ accusations stem from over 140 interviews with various Reed associates, including one of his former wives, Bettye Kronstad. In the biography, Kronstad describes Reed thusly: “He would, like, pin you up against a wall. Tussle you. Hit you … shake you … And then one time he actually gave me a black eye.” An old school-friend named Allan Hyman, meanwhile, recalls an incident in which Reed “smashed” one of his girlfriends during dinner. “She would say something. He’d get pissed off at what she said and smash her around the back of the head.”
Other sources echoed these stories, pointing to a “pattern” in his behavior. “It’s quite clear that he was a misogynist and he did hit women,” a passage in Notes reads. “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.”
Following his own research for the book, Sounes himself came to a rather dismal conclusion regarding Reed’s character. “I loved his music, but you have to go where the story goes,” he told The Daily Beast. “The obituaries were a bit too kind, he was really a very unpleasant man. A monster really; I think truly the word monster is applicable.”
In addition to the accusations of abuse, the book recalls instances in which Reed allegedly described Dylan a “pretentious kike.” Read the full feature over at The Daily Beast.
Notes from the Velvet Underground is due out on October 22nd through Transworld Digital. Below, read a synopsis off Amazon:
“Lou Reed, who died in 2013, was best known to the general public as the grumpy New Yorker in black who sang ‘Walk on the Wild Side’. To his dedicated admirers, however, he was one of the most innovative and intelligent American songwriters of modern times, a natural outsider who lived a tumultuous and tortured life.
In this in-depth, meticulously researched and very entertaining biography, respected biographer Howard Sounes examines the life and work of this fascinating man, from birth to death, including his time as the leader of The Velvet Underground – one of the most important bands in rock’n’roll.
Written with a deep knowledge and understanding of the music, Sounes also sheds entirely new light on the artist’s creative process, his mental health problems, his bisexuality, his three marriages, and his addictions to drugs and alcohol.
In the course of his research, Sounes has interviewed over 140 people from every part of Lou Reed’s life – some of whom have not spoken publicly about him before – including music industry figures, band members, fellow celebrities, family members, former wives and lovers.
This book brings Lou Reed and his world alive.”