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American Rock Pioneer Lou Reed Dead at 71

Influential American rock musician Lou Reed, the widely acknowledged poet laureate of the dark, hard-edged genre known as punk rock, has died in New York.

Reed's agent said the 71-year-old performer, who had been in frail health in recent months, died Sunday outside of New York City of apparent complications from a recent liver transplant.

Known for his cold onstage persona and gaunt appearance, Reed's early compositions with his band the Velvet Underground focused on New York City's darker themes of drug addiction, sexuality and violence. Critics say his groundbreaking imagery rivaled that of 1960s icon Bob Dylan, radically expanding lyrical boundaries into themes never before explored in popular music.

Reed had only one commercial hit, the 1972 composition "Walk on the Wild Side." Other songs popular among his followers included "Heroin," "Sweet Jane" and "All Tomorrow's Parties."

Reed would perform decades later at the White House during the Clinton administration. He also was the subject of a public broadcasting "American Masters" documentary and the recipient of a 1999 Grammy Award.

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