Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story, by Victor Bockris


Here’s a new interview with Victor Bockris, focusing on Transformer (Harper Collins), his biography of Lou Reed, and also talking a bit about the various new and forthcoming projects we have in the pipeline…

Interview by Tobe Damit

After I posted a very extensive review of Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story (2014 updated edition) here in Loud Alien Noize under the title ”The Beauty of the Beast”, I felt the need to ask the author, the well known punk-era writer, Victor Bockris about certain aspects of the biography and his relationship with Lou. He was kind enough to answer them, for your pleasure as well as mine.

LAN: This is a really in-depth biography, I have read several of your books and never before have you gone so deep into someone’s psyche. What is it about Lou Reed?


Victor Bockris: Transformer is the result of a close friendship with Lou between 1974-1979. This is from Rock’n’Roll Animal to The Bells. A solo workaholic rock star such as Lou is by definition a lonely guy. When I started hanging out with him he was living with a long time girlfriend he had known since 1966 at the Factory. Barbara Hodes had gone to Long Island and helped pull him out of his post Velvet’ slump, also offering him a nest in Manhattan. The first night Andrew Wylie and I went out drinking with Lou in fall 1974 the three of us were sitting around a table drinking when he suddenly said, “I haven’t felt this happy in years!” I was stunned. The point is Lou was looking for people he could really talk to. He wanted to emote about his life. No bullshit. We were the same way. And once Lou got a friend he wanted that friend to be available to him at any time. We called ourselves Bockris-Wylie. The first thing Lou did was break us up. Then he developed separate relations with both of us. All my time with Lou was spent in his apartment or mine talking about his problems or mine. He gave me much good advice I rely on to this day. Lou opened his psyche to me and that is why I could write about him so accurately. He once gave me a piece of paper on which he had written “From Lou#3 to Lou#8 ‘Hi!’” Writing from a psychological angle was the only way to start a biography of Lou Reed.

More at Loud Alien Noize

Lou Reed: Waiting for the Man, by Jeremy Reed

camionjeremyGood morning from a beautiful, serene and frosty village

Some lovely news for us. The agency’s latest publication from France is in: it’s the Camion Blanc French edition of Jeremy Reed’s much lauded work on Lou Reed. Happy reading to all French Lou and Velvets fans.

Le livre de Jeremy Reed se présente comme une étude fouillée de la vie et de l’œuvre de Lou Reed, toutes deux pleines de contradictions et de changements de direction radicaux. Rock star, icône pop et poète des rues : de la Factory d’Andy Warhol à sa collaboration ultime avec Metallica, on (re)découvre l’itinéraire d’un poète sans concessions bien ancré dans sa ville de New York, aux ambitions littéraires immenses, qui a laissé une marque inestimable sur la musique en général et pas seulement sur le punk dont il a été proclamé – un peu hâtivement – le parrain.

The Life & Music of Lou Reed: Waiting for the Man, by Jeremy Reed

Jeremy Reed’s uniquely poetic take on Lou Reed’s life and music gives this biography a soulful, reverential air mixed with solid evidence of the author’s lifelong interest in his subject. As such it’s a lovely addition to the Lou/VU bookshelf.

The Czech edition has just been published. Here’s their jacket image:


and more info on this edition can be found here

Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story, by Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga


Now in it’s 33rd year in print…I think I’ve seen more editions of this title in various formats and languages than any other book on the agency’s list.

Uptight is the story of The Velvet Underground. It is still widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest rock books ever published, and it first appeared in 1983 and has remained in print in several languages ever since. It was written and compiled by Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga, and is based on interviews with Nico, Cale, Reed, Morrison and Tucker, as well as others who became part of Andy Warhol’s circle of artistic collaborators.



Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story, by Victor Bockris

A triumph – Time Out

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