As fans across the world celebrate the late Lou Reed
's 75th birthday today, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, in partnership with Reed's widow Laurie Anderson, has announced they have acquired the legendary songwriter's archives in their entirety. The massive collection spans the majority of Reed's career and personal life, and includes thousands of hours of demo, studio, and video recordings, around 300 boxes of writing, letters, and photos, as well as his personal book and record collection. While it will take some time to digitize the collection and make it available to the public, Anderson and the NYPL promises that this will be the most detailed and comprehensive look into Reed's life in music to date, from early recordings of his 1958 high school band the Shades all the way to his final shows in 2013.
Aside from musical content, the archive will include a wide array of personal items, which Anderson and the NYPL hope will paint a more fleshed-out picture of Reed that moves beyond the "quiet rocker in the leather jacket" image he is often associated with. According to NPR
, some items include a receipt from the legendary Max's Kansas City (a tab for $194.98), as well as a birthday card from Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker, and Pitchfork
shared an image of Reed's high school yearbook that contains the description, "As for the immediate future, Lou has no plans, but will take life as it comes." As Reed infamously preferred the outside of the spotlight, the archives will finally allow fans and visitors to the library to get to know the musician for who he was as a person as well as an artist.
These archives are an exciting prospect, especially considering that they will be completely free and available to the public once they are fully digitized. For many Lou Reed fans and followers, it's also great to hear that rather than sitting in storage or in a museum collecting dust, Reed's words and music will remain in the city he lovingly called home all his life, and will be fully accessible to the people who also call New York City home. As someone who championed the outcasts and strange characters who flocked to the city and took a walk on the wild side, Reed likely wouldn't have wanted it any other way. The Reed Archives will become available to the public throughout the year, but in the meantime, the NYPL will be celebrating his life throughout this month with various free events, which you can read about here