It was a sad and shocking Sunday when the word got out that Lou Reed had passed away. There’s no denying the profound influence that his songs and persona had on hundreds of thousands of bands, artists and freaks who wanted to move to New York City, soak up any cool that was left, do drugs, and make the scene. The Velvet Underground will always be known as the band with the least amount of commercial success who inspired the most malcontents to pick up their guitars and start playing.
And despite Lou’s rep as being a famous bisexual rock star– he allegedly had dalliances with David Bowie and Mick Ronson, and apparently his parents tried to cure him of his homosexual urges by using electro shock treatments when he was a teen- the fact is many of his long term relationships were with women. Let’s take a look at the muses in Lou Reeds life. This list, not surprisingly, includes a few women who are pretty iconic in their own right.
Shelly Albin: An affair with the married woman that inspired the song “Pale Blue Eyes” rumored to be about Shelly Winters, but that’s unlikely.
Nico: German model and chanteuse had a “brief affair” with Lou in 1965 and inspired him to write “I’ll be your Mirror” Nico claimed she was in love with Lou at that time.
Bettye Kronstadt : first wife, married in 1973 for one year. Not much is known about her.
Lou and Rachel
Rachel: Transgender woman who dated Lou in the mid 70s inspired the album Coney Island Baby. Little is know about Rachel, who apparently died in the early 1990s. Lou said this about her: “Rachel was completely disinterested in who I was and what I did. Nothing could impress her. He’d hardly heard my music and didn’t like it all that much when he did.”
Sylvia Morales: Married from 1980-1994. Cited as being a British designer, she also apparently managed Lou's career. She inspired some of the songs on The Blue Mask.
Laurie Anderson: Lou married the extremely talented artist in 2008 after living together for at least 10 years prior.
So maybe Lou was bisexual. Maybe he was pan sexual. Whatever his sexual orientation, he imbued his beautiful songs with sense of compassion and adoration for those he loved. And it does seem that many of his long term relationships and muses were women. So I leave you with this rather odd and lovely song entitled, “I Love Women.”