Ever since forming the Velvet Underground in 1965, Lou Reed has been acclaimed as the poet of the New York streets, creating a body of work that comes closer to great literature than conventional rock and roll. Through his music, he chronicled the potency and pain of sex and drug excesses with a gritty articulation and streetwise wisdom that inspired an entire generation of punk artists.
He was the first rock writer to deal with the hunger of drug addiction. He unashamedly explored the contradictory pleasures of homosexuality and sado-masochism. He took a long walk on the wild side of self-absorption, sensuality and suicide. Yet his achievements over the past 25 years have been observed by his public image. He appeared to inject himself with drugs through a syringe during concerts. He spent several years in the company of an exotic man named Rachel. He narrowly escaped death during a lengthy battle with drugs. But he has emerged on the other side a wiser man who has spent the last decade producing the finest work of his career.
Growing Up In Public is the first book to penetrate the private poetry and public persona of Lou Reed, integrating the man and myth to establish and clear view of the artist and his contributions to rock and roll. It weaves its way through the carefully assembled images which have been Reed's defence from the world since the beginning of his career, and traces the unapologetic way he has played out his personal obsessions in songs.
For the first time, it examines the relationship and impact on his work by Andy Warhol and Delmore Schwartz, his acknowledged mentors. It also explains the American musical, artistic and literary traditions which have inspired and provoked Reed's writing and mystique. Cutting through the masks which Reed has used to separate his real self from his media image, Growing Up In Public is a remarkable study of one of the most important American artists of the 20th century and includes rare photos and the most exhaustive discography available anywhere.