Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story, by Victor Bockris

A triumph – Time Out

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When songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed passed away on the 27th October 2013, I found myself rereading Bockris’s original biography which had been published by Hutchinson, Simon and Schuster and Vintage in various editions in the mid-1990s. When the time was right, I discussed with the author the possibility of updating the biography using new interview material and a revised analysis of Reed’s later work, to present as thorough a reading of the artist’s life as possible. Once he’d agreed, I soon had Harper Collins in the UK and the US both come enthusiastically on board for this new edition, and after reading the manuscript they licensed world rights from me.

Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story follows this great songwriter and singer through the series of transformations that define each period of his fifty year career. It opens with the teenage electroshock treatments that dominated his memories of childhood and never stops revealing layer after layer of this complex and often anguished artist and man. Transformer is based on Lou’s collaborations with some of the most influential artists of his times, from John Cale, Andy Warhol, and Nico, through David Bowie, Robert Wilson, Laurie Anderson and the ghost of Edgar Alan Poe. Rippling underneath everything he did are Lou’s relationships with his various muses, from his college sweetheart to his three wives.

Victor Bockris – who knew Lou throughout the Rachel Years, from Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal to the Bells – has updated his original biography to reveal the many transformations of this larger-than-life character, including his final shift from Rock Monster to the Prince Charming he had always wanted to be in the twenty years he spent with the love of his life, Laurie Anderson .

This edition also includes previously unseen photographs and contributions from Lou’s innermost circle and collaborators.

“a thoroughly engrossing read” – The Guardian

“While succinctly updating Lou’s doings for the new edition (also adding work inventories and interview appendices), Bockris does a fine job recounting Reed finding his soul mate and happiness with Laurie Anderson, the main event that transformed his life. Bockris sensitively portrays their relationship until Reed’s death last October, then simply but poignantly handles the conclusion. One day, as a child, Lou’s hand strayed into close proximity to where his father was standing. He received a sharp smack for this action, recounts Reed’s close friend Julian Schnabel, who adds, “He never got over the cruelty of that.” Touches like this elevate this book above the usual rock biographies, offering a genuine insight into one of music’s most eternally fascinating but complex characters. As close as it will ever be possible to get to Reed’s rock’n’roll heart; here to stand forever as the definitive statement.” – Record Collector

“Bockris’s new work is instantly recognizable as the heavyweight psychological powerplay Lou Reed’s legend deserves…Reed is effectively pinned like a butterfly” – Q Magazine

“Transformer depicts the singer’s life as a series of death-defying second acts” – New York Times Book Review

“A very readable portrait…Blending informed biographical narrative with abundant quotes and a dishy, conversational style, Bockris captures the many moods – and mood swings – of a true rock and roll chameleon” – Entertainment Weekly

“Transformer is an even more staggering brief than Wired (about John Belushi)” – Spin

“Bockris provides insight into the private life that led Reed to create many of rock’s memorable songs, including “Heroin” and “Walk on the Wild Side” – Publishers Weekly

“One of the funniest and most memorable time-lined rock documents around” – Philadelphia City Paper