There are few rock stars as associated with New York as Lou Reed. So it's fitting that a remarkable archive of material from his professional and personal lives is being established at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

"This is a major glimpse into the world of rock 'n' roll and popular music," said Jonathan Hiam, Curator of Music & Recorded Sounds at the library.

The archive includes:

Backstage passes

Merchandise from his tours


A diary of the places where he ate while on the road

Photos shot for the cover of his album, New York

"It's probably the largest collection — certainly in a public library or a public research facility — that is devoted to a single major popular artist, one that covers personal aspects of their and their professional endeavors of their life," Hiam said.

His widow, singer Laurie Anderson, donated 212 boxes of material in all.

"He was a thinker, he was a writer, he was a musician, and he was very committed to ideas and art," Hiam said. "Having something available in the public library, the New York Public Library, is some place that would make sense to him."

Reed founded the Velvet Underground in the 1960s, influencing generations of musicians. He then went solo, achieving his most commercial success in the 1970s.

His often gritty music was inspired by, and reflected, the New York of the times. He died from liver disease in 2013 at the age of 71 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The library is exhibiting part of the collection to show a typical day in the life of a Lou Reed tour.

"We know exactly how much the bus cost, who was on the bus, what people were being paid, how far they were traveling," Hiam said.

The library is even distributing a new library card with an iconic image of Lou Reed, taken by Mick Rock.

"It's a wonderful legacy to have for him to make the library a better place that his materials are here," Hiam said.

Items that create a different kind of show, documenting the life of a New York rock star.


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