Lou Reed – ‘Walk On The Wild Side’
  • Writer: Lou Reed
  • Producers: David Bowie and Mick Ronson
  • Recorded: 1972
  • Released: 1972
  • Players:
    Lou Reed — vocals, guitar
    Mick Ronson — guitar
    Ronnie Ross — saxophone
    Herbie Flowers — bass
    John Halzey — drums
    The Thunder Thighs — background vocals
  • Album: Transformer (RCA, 1972)
  • Also On:
    Lou Reed Live (RCA, 1975)
    Walk On The Wild Side: The Best Of Lou Reed (RCA, 1977)
    Rock And Roll Diary 1967-1980 (Arista, 1980)
    Between Thought And Expression (RCA, 1992; boxed set)
    Walk On The Wild Side And Other Hits (RCA, 1992)
    Different Times: Lou Reed In The ’70s (RCA, 1996)
    The Definitive Collection (Arista, 1999)
    NYC Man: The Ultimate Lou Reed Collection (RCA, 2003)
    The Platinum & Gold Collection (RCA, 2004)
  • Throughout his long and unpredictable career, Lou Reed has had only one top 20 hit, “Walk On The Wild Side.” Peaking at Number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S., it remains his most successful and enduring single to date.
  • The song’s lyrics, which salute the ’60s underground culture of Andy Warhol, stirred up quite a bit controversy in the U.S. However, not a ripple was made at the BBC, apparently because programmers there didn’t understand phrases like “giving head.”
  • Reed had retreated to England after his involvement with the Velvet Underground in the late ’60s. He didn’t embark on his solo career for almost two years after the group disbanded.
  • Transformer, his second album, was Reed’s breakthrough to mainstream success. Marrying his dark themes and minimalist songs to accessible pop structures, it brought him the commercial visibility he had struggled to find with the Velvet Underground.
  • Much of the record’s pop sheen belongs to Reed disciple David Bowie‘s production.
  • A longtime Velvet Underground fan, Bowie played a part in developing Reed’s image during this time as well. The former avant-garde leader became a bleached-blonde, black fingernail-polished hedonist who, indeed, flaunted walking on the wild side. Bowie picked up on all of those qualities, and used them to greater commercial success in his own career in the ’70s.


  • Transformer: The Lou Reed Story, a biography of Reed’s life, was released in 1995. It details Reed’s early years, including his stay in a mental hospital where he received electric shock treatments.
  • A few years ago, Reed staged a bilingual performance piece called POEtry in New York City. The show was based on the works of author Edgar Allan Poe, and it’s also been performed in opera houses in Germany, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.
  • In June 2003, Reed was inducted into Hollywood’s RockWalk.
  • Reed has been actively involved in the anti-war movement in recent years. He even released an updated version of “Walk On The Wild Side,” with lyrics about the Iraq war.