While both Patti Smith and Bono eloquently eulogized Reed back in November, Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker shared her memories of the frontman and songwriter with The Guardian. Having met Reed through her brother, Tucker said she got together with Reed and Sterling Morrison by accident when their original drummer left before a gig in New York in 1965.
“Sterling said, ‘Oh, Tucker’s sister plays drums.’ I lived way out on Long Island and they came out there from the city to see if I could keep a beat. That’s how it happened,” she recalled.
Tucker said the band never formally discussed their direction, instead they just made music no one else was making.
“Lou had a reputation, for sure. He was tough and he could be grumpy and b***chy, but I’ve come to realize that his b**chiness came out when there was incompetence about. Didn’t matter if it was a waiter or a record producer, he’d rip someone apart if things weren’t up to scratch.”
But as tough as he was, Tucker also remembered him being encouraging and generous.
“He was a good friend through everything. We had this brother-sister type relationship in the group, and it lasted long after the group split,” she explained. “It was one of those friendships where it didn’t matter if you didn’t see each other a lot. We’d meet up after two years or five years and it would be like we’d seen each other last week. As you get older, you come to realise that that kind of friendship is rare, so I miss him a hell of a lot. It’s just dawning on me that he’s not out there any more.”
Like many, Tucker said she didn’t know how ill Reed was and took the news hard.
“We had a lot of fun, and a lot of fun upsetting people. We used to joke that we knew how good the gig was by the number of people who left the room,” she said. “I really miss Lou. He was a great songwriter who pushed the boundaries in terms of what he was writing about, but more importantly, he was a good and loyal friend.”