Beautiful Lou Reed Audition Story


From drummer Dougie Bowne:

The Lou Reed Story

Lou Reed's manager had called me up to audition for Lou's band, maybe 1981 or so, and I'd heard that he could be brusque, so I arrive early to check out the kit, do a little tune up. The instruments could be brutal in New York rehearsal studios. I go into the room, hit a couple of drums and draw forth a series of dull lifeless thuds, all the kit can offer up as a response. It's been pounded to within inches of it's life for a long time. I began trying to tune the instruments and get something that should be workable, and start to play some stuff by myself.
I've got my eyes closed and am playing something that could be seen by a guy like Lou as magniloquent. Lou and another guy had come into the room. I open my eyes, stop playing and smile at Lou.
"Look, I'm not looking for a jazz drummer." Lou says immediately, no hello, nice to meet you, thanks for coming by.
"Oh man...sorry...I was warming up, just checking out the set...."
Lou looks at me, he isn't smiling, he says nothing, begins taking out his guitar, turns on his amp and plugs in while I sit behind the drums, already uncomfortable.
After the slimmest exchange of words, he starts in, we play for a short while, maybe two tunes, neither of which I know. He stops, I'm smiling I think it's going ok.
"Look I really don't want a jazz guy playing drums...”
I get a little annoyed, I'm not playing anything above and beyond the straightforward, I'm thinking he's worried because of what he heard when he walked in.
“Look man, you can hear what I do on Iggy's last record, or the John Cale thing." As this came out of my mouth the tone surprises me, I sound pissed off. I was nervous, this is not my usual manner.
He looked at the other guy in the room and smiles, he doesn't seem to mind.

We knock off a tune or so more, and he unstraps the guitar, leans it up against the amp, comes over and sits down right next to me, a couple of feet away.
He looks at me, leans in and asks, "Are you a good person?'
We're looking right at each other, he's studying me, looking for signs of something. I turn a little red, think for second and offer, "I don't know, I'm trying to be."
He smiles, and it's a warm, real smile and says, "good answer." He gets up- the audition is over, we pack up, say goodbye and as we leave, the other guy says that he'll be in touch. I'm not sure what to think, I played OK, but, the whole experience was weird and I don't think I got the gig.
I go home and in a couple of hours, the manager calls and says Lou really liked me and I'm hired for the next tour, which is some months off, we'll talk. I'm surprised and elated.

I went to Japan for a spell, and the Lou tour ended up being cancelled for some reason, I went on to do other things.
Some years later, after I'd been on a bunch of records, lots of tours and I'd established some kind of reputation I got a call from Lou.
"Listen, I have a tour coming up and I need a drummer."
I was really happy he was calling me himself, no manager this time.
"Oh man, you know, I would love to do it, and I'm honored that you're asking, but I'm involved with something else right now, I'm pretty commited and I don't think I would be able to."
"I'm sorry to hear that..."
"But listen- I gotta tell you- I really love your work very much, so..."
He was quiet for just a second, then he says' "you know, musicians never say that to me, I really appreciate that."
We spoke for about ten, fifteen minutes, about musicians, working with people, it was great.
I meant it. I hardly knew anything about his work the first time I'd been called. I don't think he remembered that I had been hired for a tour years before, the tour that didn't happen. I didn't bring it up.
We would cross paths quite a few times in the years to come, he'd show up at gigs I was doing with folks he knew or liked, he was always really sweet to me. One of the last times I saw Lou was in the bathroom after Laurie Anderson's show Delusion. I had to go in there to splash some water on my face to keep from crying like a baby, the show was so beautiful. I think he was in the bathroom for the same reason. When he remembered me he said one of nicest things anyone ever said to me, but I'll keep that between him, me, and a few close friends.
I’m sorry that I never got to work with him; never had the intimacy that working together on music affords us. I use the word intimacy here because that's what it is when the work is great and when we want the result of the work to be something we might call art. And it feels especially right here, when we're talking about Lou, who spent his whole life speaking to us in a voice that we recognize as the voice of someone who’s actually TALKING to us, drawing our attention to something, things that we may have passed over, things that we might not want to have see but he thinks maybe we should.
I’ve told The Lou Reed Story a billion times, usually working the funny part, the part where he asks me if I'm a good person, sitting right up close to me. It is funny. Maybe Lou was ****ing with me a bit, but thinking about it right now I think that he really did want to know that the guy pounding out the time to his songs was a good person. I think it meant something to him. It means something to me.


Silver Supporting Member
"When your looking through the eyes of hate, all your two bit friends they'll probably ask you for your autograph"


Wax Rhapsodic
Platinum Supporting Member
"magniloquent" - using high-flown or bombastic language. Got it.

Interesting story - glad they connected. From everything I've read, having a relationship with Lou was like juggling chain saws.


Where is the Talent?
Silver Supporting Member
This account relates to the Low Reed live shows that I have seen. If you tune in at the start with the band, the shows just took off. Very few bands can lock it it in like that and elevate the music through out a show. L

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