Listen to a pre-fame teenage Lou Reed singing doo-wop music in his first-ever band ‘The Jades’
Lou Reed, the iconic rock and roll musician best known for fronting avant-garde rock group The Velvet Underground, started his furore into music on a different path. Prior to meeting Andy Warhol, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and the rest, Reed grew up in Freeport, Long Island and learned to play the guitar while listening to rhythm and blues before getting his hips swinging as a member of a doo-wop band called the Jades.
“The Jades wasn’t a band, it was just one guitar and two other guys singing,” Reed later said. “I was in the background. I wrote the stuff, I didn’t sing it. We would play shopping malls and some really bad violent places. I was always, like, tremendously underage, which was pretty cool.”
While he dismissed his vocal contribution, audio has since arrived online of a certain ‘Lewis Reed’ stepping up to the microphone as part of the Jades. Reed’s then bandmate and classmate Phil Harris, explained that “one evening, at Lou’s house, we started fooling around with some lyrics and during that evening, both ‘So Blue’ and ‘Leave Her for Me’ were written” after learning about their skills during a school show.
“Lou and I met while we were in high school in our senior year. We were in many of the same classes together and quite a few times we went over to his house to hang out. I don’t think that we met prior to our senior year, but we were probably in some of the same classes together without realising it,” Harris explained. “We were both interested in music and most of the “in” bands and groups of the time. In our senior year, there was a variety show that the school puts on. Lou, another friend named Al Walters, and myself decided to get together to do a “Little Richard” act for the show. I sang lead, and I’m still hoarse to this day. Lou and Al Walters sang background and Lou also played guitar.
“The skit was very successful based on the applause. After that show, the three of us decided to get together and try and come up with some songs that we could all participate in. One evening, at Lou’s house, we started fooling around with some lyrics and during that evening, both ‘So Blue’ and ‘Leave Her for Me’ were written. In those days, it didn’t take much imagination to come up with something that required great lyric development skills. You just thought of an experience that you might have gone through, and write it down.”
He added: “In those days, it didn’t take much imagination to come up with something. You just thought of an experience that you might have gone through and wrote it down. “I wrote all of ‘So Blue’ and helped Lou out with ‘Leave Her for Me’. Each one of us had a little story to tell and each recording was based on that. Lou played all of the music but we both sort of kicked around some cords during the writing phase.”
Below, you can enjoy three singles which Reed contributed on during his time in the high-school band.