Happy heavenly birthday to Lou Reed! On what would be his 81st birthday, I figured we’d take a look back at his collaboration with Metallica and their polarizing LP ‘Lulu’. In 2009, both Metallica and Lou Reed performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert. It was soon after that performance they began kicking around the idea of making a record together. Fast forward two years to June of 2011, Metallica announced their project with Lou after the recording of the album had already been completed.
The LP was originally intended to be Metallica re-recording previously unreleased tracks Lou Reed had written over the years. Among them, were some unreleased demos from a collection of songs that he had composed for a play called Lulu – originally written by German playwright Frank Wedekind. Reed shared the demos with Metallica hoping they could bring the piece of work to the next level. The album was recorded live at Metallica’s HQ Studios in San Rafael, California in early 2011. The recording was problematic at times, with stories of Lou Reed challenging Lars to a street fight at one point.
“The View” was the only single released off the 10-song, close to 90-minute-long double album. The overall reception was mixed, which is putting it nicely. Reed stated that Metallica fans even went as far as to threaten to shoot him due to the collaboration. Ultimately this would end up being the final full-length studio recording project that Reed was involved in before his death in October of 2013.
Lou Reed was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2015. At the ceremony it was revealed by Reed’s widow Laurie Anderson, that David Bowie had referred to ‘Lulu’ as Reed’s “greatest work”. And to some, it was!