Syracuse’s connection with the Rock and Roll hall of fame got a little bit deeper in December 2015 with Syracuse University graduate and Velvet Underground front-man, Lou Reed’s, induction. Reed passed away in October of 2013 and graduated S.U. with honors in the 1960s.
There are interesting stories about Reed during his time at Syracuse University, including his time as a platoon leader in the campus ROTC unit, a commitment he wanted out of. That in itself isn’t all that interesting. However, how he got out of it is something different all together. As the story goes, Reed held a gun to his commanding officer’s head in order to get out of his military commitment and, wouldn’t you know, it worked.
Reed also spent time as a host of a student radio show on WAER during his time at Syracuse University, a tradition that is now carried on by WERW. It’s said Reed was kicked off of the college radio station after faculty complaints because the music he was playing was “just too weird and cutting edge,” according to the program director at the time. Also while at S.U., he was played in bands and developed his own writing style (shown in the photo). It was in this band where he wrote early versions of “Coney Island Baby,” “Heroin,” and “Waiting for the Man,” which you can listen to below. He also met future Velvet Undeground band-mate, Sterling Morrison.
In 1975, Rolling Stone had this to say about Lou Reed,
“Had he accomplished nothing else, his work with the Velvet Underground in the late sixties would assure him a place in anyone’s rock & roll pantheon; those remarkable songs still serve as an articulate aural nightmare of men and women caught in the beauty and terror of sexual, street and drug paranoia, unwilling or unable to move. The message is that urban life is tough stuff—it will kill you; Reed, the poet of destruction, knows it but never looks away and somehow finds holiness as well as perversity in both his sinners and his quest. . . . [H]e is still one of a handful of American artists capable of the spiritual home run.”