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Drugs Take Their Toll on Lou Reed

By McCarton Ackerman 06/03/13

The legendary rocker and former drug user undergoes a life-saving liver transplant.

Lou Reed is recovering. Photo via

Legendary American rock musician Lou Reed, whose hit songs chronicle his drug and alcohol abuse during the '70s and '80s, has successfully undergone a life-saving liver transplant surgery. Reed cancelled five scheduled appearances last April due to "unavoidable complications," and his wife Laurie Anderson confirms he underwent transplant surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Cleveland. “It’s as serious as it gets. He was dying. You don’t get it for fun,” she says, adding that the surgery "went very well" and Reed is recovering. The 71-year-old musician and songwriter was the founding member of the Velvet Underground, and addressed his struggles with addiction in some of the group's biggest hits, including the 1967 single "Heroin." He once said he used drugs to cope with the modern condition, and ultimately relied on them just to "attain equilibrium," saying: "In the 20th century, in a technological age living in the city, there are certain drugs you have to take just to keep yourself normal like a caveman, just to bring yourself up or down." Reed has now been in recovery from addiction for 30 years, during which time he has developed a Tai Chi practice, which he says helped save his life after the surgery. "I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry," writes Reed on his website. "I am bigger and stronger than ever. My Chen Taiji and health regimen has served me well all of these years." He adds that he looks forward to returning to the stage and plans to continue performing "well into the future."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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