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Lewis Allen Rabinowitz, 2 March 1942, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. A member of several high-school bands, Reed made his recording debut with the Shades in 1957. Their So Blue enjoyed brief notoriety when played by influential disc jockey Murray The K, but was lost in the multitude of independent singles released in this period. Having graduated from Syracuse University, Reed took a job as a contract songwriter with Pickwick Records, which specialized in cash-in, exploitative recordings. His many compositions from this era included The Ostrich (1965), a tongue-in-cheek dance song that so impressed the label hierarchy that Reed formed the Primitives to promote it as a single. The band also included a recent acquaintance, John Cale, thus sowing the early seeds of the Velvet Underground. Reed led this outstanding unit between 1966 and 1970, contributing almost all of the material and shaping its ultimate direction. His songs, for the...