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Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed (born March 2, 1942) is an American rock musician best known as the guitarist, vocalist and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground as well as a successful solo artist whose career has spanned several decades. The Velvet Underground gained little mainstream attention during their career, but became one of the most influential of their era. As the Velvet Underground's main songwriter, Reed wrote about subjects of personal experience that rarely had been examined so openly in rock and roll, including a variety of sexual topics and drug culture. As a guitarist, he was a pioneer of many guitar effects including distortion, high volume feedback, and nonstandard tunings.