When Lou Reed died at age 71 on Oct. 27, the world mourned the loss of an outsider who changed rock 'n' roll forever. In the new issue of Rolling Stone dedicated to paying tribute to the Velvet Underground leader, the person closest to the rock icon — his wife, musician Laurie Anderson — opened her heart and poured out a stirring two-page memorial to her partner of 21 years. U2's Bono was also moved to pen a memorial for his friend that recalls Reed's often misunderstood humor and spectacular musical legacy.
"I liked him right away, but I was surprised he didn't have an English accent," Anderson recalls of her first meeting with Reed, in 1992, explaining, "For some reason I thought the Velvet Underground were British." The couple shared their first date at the geeky Audio Engineering Society Convention "looking at amps and cables and shop-talking electronics." Anderson admits, "I had no idea this was meant to be a date."
Writing candidly about the nature of their relationship, Anderson describes the inner dynamic of true soul mates: "Sometimes we got really angry. But even when I was mad, I was never bored," she writes. "We learned to forgive each other. And somehow, for 21 years, we tangled our minds and hearts together."
Anderson also reveals why and how the two got married: In 2008, she casually mentioned she regretted never walking down the aisle while on a cell phone call with Reed. " 'Why don't we get married?'" she recalls him asking. "'I'll meet you halfway. I'll come to Colorado. How about tomorrow?' "
Reed received a liver transplant in the spring, and it appeared he'd regained his health and energy. But when the new liver began to fail, Anderson and Reed grappled with the inevitable. And when he literally faced down death, Anderson was by his side.
"I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died," she writes. "His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world."
In his own essay dedicated to remembering Reed's "perfect noise" and unique personality, Bono writes that Lou's "deadpan humor was easily misunderstood as rudeness, and Lou delighted in that misunderstanding."
Bono also provides an intimate portrait of Reed's true nature. "He was thoughtful, meditative and extremely disciplined," he writes. Describing Reed's unique relationship with New York City, his hometown that fostered his musical spirit so strongly, Bono notes, "Until Laurie Anderson came into his life 20 years ago, you could be forgiven for thinking that Lou had no other love than the noise of New York City."
Anderson ends her own memorial on an uplifting note. "I'm sure he will come to me in my dreams and will seem to be alive again."