The Velvet Underground just blew me away.
There was so much myth attached to the band. I heard if you peeled the banana off there was LSD under it. I guess that you'd call it now a buzz band, but there was nothing like it in those days. Nobody was buzzing about any band until the Velvet Underground came around.
When I went to London and met David Bowie, he was a bigger Velvet Underground fan than I was. David's biggest homage to Lou was when he found Lou. He literally searched for him and found him and made Transformer. It was one of the most wonderful things to happen to the both of them at the time.
I wasn't surprised at all that "Walk on the Wild Side" got so big. When I heard it I thought it was a smash hit. I never heard anything like it. What was funny is that he's talking about transvestites and giving head and changing clothes on the bus, and they're playing this for kids on BBC radio. I thought it was hilarious. Like Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground in the 1960s, we were getting away with murder.
He borrowed David's sound for "Walk on the Wild Side." David is very much responsible for that and anything else that came off that album. David had the hit song mentality, which Lou never really cared about in a big way. Lou always considered himself a very serious poet, a very serious artist. I don't think that wealth was his goal, or worldwide popularity. He just wanted to do what he did. His output from that point on was extremely diverse. Like the Beatles, he kept changing styles. He experimented with a lot of forms of music that wasn't very commercial.
I had seen Lou hundreds of times in the past 10 years, mainly almost every Sunday in New York City at our Sunday tai chi class. We had people from all walks of life in our class, a banker, a plumber, a construction worker, a Japanese translator . . . all these varied people from all walks of life, and Lou was just one of us. Afterward sometimes as many of 12 of us went out for brunch right after class and Lou was right there sitting in the middle of it. It was wonderful. To know him on that level was just incredible. I can't tell you how serious he was about it. He was one of the most serious people I know about studying some arcane subject like that.
Lou was very social and went out a lot. He had a lot of very close friends, like Julian Schnabel and Richard Belzer from Law and Order. They were his very serious friends, and he saw David Bowie from time to time, and myself. I went over to Lou's house quite a bit. We'd go to shows together and I'd see him quite a bit at gallery openings and the openings of Broadway shows. He didn't just stay at home and do nothing. He was very active.
I last saw him three weeks ago at a Mick Rock book signing at the CBGB place, the John Varvatos store. I wrote to Lou the night before and said, "Can you let me in?" His last e-mail to me, was, "I try." It was a joke. Instead of "I'll try" it was "I try." There was nothing wrong with his grammar, believe me. He got me in and we were very close to the front. I waved to him. It was the last time I saw him.