One in this documentary series that explores the lives and achievements of America's most celebrated native-born and adopted artists, performers, and creative talent. This program profiles the life and career of musician Lou Reed through interviews with Reed, his friends and associates, as well as footage of performances, rehearsals, and other events. Also included are excerpts from the following songs, among others: "Sweet Jane," "Heroin," "Waiting for the Man," "Walk on the Wild Side," "Smalltown," "Waves of Fear," and "Romeo Had Juliet." Reed describes his musical education and influences, including the impact of writer/professor Delmore Schwartz on his writing style. Reed then recalls his entry into the New York music scene, first as a songwriter for the Pickwick Interational label, and then as a founder of the music group Velvet Underground. Band members John Cale and Maureen Tucker remember the band's discovery and adoption by Andy Warhol; and, photographer and Warhol assistant Billy Name, artist and EPI dancer Mary Woronov, and Museum of Modern Art chief curator Kirk Varnedoe discuss Warhol's influence on society and the work that emerged from the Factory during the 1960s. Singer Patti Smith and Waldemar Januszczak, art critic for The Sunday Times of London, focus on the song "Heroin" as the epitome of Reed's ability to reach the heart of a matter in a way that revolutionized rock. Next, Woronov and Warhol assistant Gerald Malanga discuss the Factory's creation of the multimedia show, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which incorporated the Velvet Underground's music with film projections, visual arts, and dance. Other comments include the following: composer Philip Glass on the music the band produced during this period; writer Jim Carroll, syndicated New York Post rock columnist Lisa Robinson, and Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn on how Warhol and the Velvet Underground would hold court at Max's Kansas City; David Bowie on his introduction to Reed and their work together on "Transformer"; and Reed aficionados David Byrne, Suzanne Vega, Lee Ranaldo, and Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel on the meaning of Reed's music for them and for rock music in general. Also featured is a discussion about Reed's projects in the 1980s and 1990s, including the Warhol tribute, "Songs for Drella," "Set the Twilight Reeling," and the rock opera "Time Rocker." This program is closed-captioned.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 1998.


  • DATE: April 29, 1998 Wednesdasy 10:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:56:47
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:54098
  • GENRE: Arts documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Art, American
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 1986-


    • For "American Masters":
    • Susan Lacy … Executive Producer
    • Tamar Hacker … Senior Producer
    • Karen Bernstein … Associate Producer
    • Thomas Wagner … Composer, Theme Music by
    • For "Rock and Roll Heart: Lou Reed":
    • Timothy Greenfield-Sanders … Producer, Director
    • Karen Bernstein … Co-Producer
    • David Byrne
    • John Cale
    • Jim Carroll
    • Philip Glass
    • Vaclav Havel
    • Waldemar Januszczak
    • Gerald Malanga
    • Billy Name
    • Lee Ranaldo
    • Lou Reed
    • Patti Smith
    • Delmore Schwartz
    • Maureen Tucker
    • Kirk Varnedoe
    • Suzanne Vega
    • Andy Warhol
    • Holly Woodlawn
    • Mary Woronov