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Lars Ulrich on Lou Reed: ‘Metallica Gave Him Strength’

Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

In the days following Lou Reed‘s death, seemingly everyone who’s ever heard a Velvet Underground record paid tribute to the rock legend. But the band whose name shared the cover of Reed’s final recording was noticeably absent. 

Apparently Metallica needed the time for drummer Lars Ulrich to pen a whopping 7,600-word tribute. Ulrich writes about his memories of working with Reed on ‘Lulu’ – while also nothing the similarities between the two artists — in today’s issue of The Guardian.

“No matter what he was saying, he was always speaking his truth,” writes Ulrich. “It never felt cerebral, it always felt like it came from some other place somewhere. When people talk, it comes from their brain; I don’t know where his words came from, but they came from somewhere else. Emotional, physical, everything – it really resonated with me. I wanted to give him strength, and I think Metallica gave him strength.”

Ulrich starts his essay by saying he knew the end was near. Metallica were playing a show at New York’s Apollo Theater and hoped that native New Yorker Reed would come down to check it out. “He didn’t make it because his health took a turn for the worse, so I knew things were not good,” he writes. Still, when news broke of Reed’s death on Oct. 27, Ulrich “was half-shocked and half-crushed.”

The bulk of Ulrich’s article is filled with stories about Reed’s legendary reputation as a grump and the recording of 2011′s ‘Lulu.’ He says Reed had a lot in common with Metallica: “We were both outsiders, we both never felt comfortable going down the same path that everyone else was doing. Metallica’s always been autonomous, and Lou Reed is the godfather of being an outsider, being autonomous, marching to his own drum, making every project different from the previous one and never feeling like he had a responsibility to anybody other than himself. We shared kinship over that.”

Ulrich also spends several paragraphs talking about the critical beating ‘Lulu’ received upon its release and how some fans are starting to come around. (Ulrich’s own assesment of the record two years later? “It sounded as relevant and more intense than ever; it sounded incredibly potent, very alive and impulsive.”) But mostly, his words serve as a more honest tribute to Reed than the gazillion others that have been written over the past few days.

Next: 12 Great Covers of Lou Reed Songs

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