Rock pioneer Lou Reed has died at age 71.
The man who was born Lewis Allen Reed passed away Sunday morning in Southampton, New York. His literary agent says Reed died from an ailment related to a recent liver transplant.
The guitarist, singer and founder of 1960s band the Velvet Underground, shook up the rock world and inspired a generation to pick up guitars and microphones.
"His influence is pretty much incalculable", says music guru Alan Cross. "There is a story that everybody who ever bought a Velvet Underground album before 1975 formed a band then ended up changing the world", explains Cross.
With only one top 20 hit in "Walk On the Wild Side", Reed never saw the commercial success of some of his contemporaries. But he radically expanded the territory of rock lyrics.
"In 1966, 1967 everybody was singing about cars and girls and surfing", says Cross. "Velvet Underground came along and they began singing about very deviant things: sex, drugs, weird sex, weird sex and they were singing in the language of the streets."
Cross says Lou Reed went on to influence the likes of Iggy Pop and David Bowie, who together created what became known as alternative music.
Reed's wife, artist Laurie Anderson has said he was dying before his surgery in May. "He lived a very strange life. Lots of drugs, lots of sex, lots of alcohol so when we heard about his liver transplant, we weren't terribly surprised", says Cross
Cross admits to being too scared to ever interview the man sometimes called the grumpiest man in rock 'n roll. "The man was notorious when it came to dealing with journalists. He was a very grump man. Very grumpy."
Tributes have been pouring in for the music legend on twitter.