Rev Dr Andrew Pakula; right: Lou Reed
Published: 01 November, 2013
by PETER GRUNER
IT all began with Islington’s Unitarian minister, the Rev Dr Andrew Pakula, who asked: “Would anyone like to organise a memorial service for singer Lou Reed? I’ll supply the church.”
American-born Dr Pakula was quickly inundated with Twitter messages from pop fans.
And this Sunday – just a week after Reed’s death – one of the first public memorial services to the Velvet Underground singer will be held at the 300-year-old church in Newington Green.
In fact, with space for a congregation of just 140, many Reed fans may have to be turned away from the 3pm event.
Dr Pakula said: “Our church has always ‘walked on the wild side’ as a centre for religious dissent.” Walk on the Wild Side was one of Reed’s biggest hits.
On Sunday, fans will listen to Reed songs, speak about his life and, if so inclined, even say a prayer for him.
The wake is being co-organised with writer Stefan Simanowitz, who had been scanning the internet to see if there were any events in London commemorating Lou Reed.
“I couldn’t find any but I did stumble on a tweet from someone called Andy,” he said.
He contacted the minister and the two started planning the tribute.
Reed, described as a “visionary musician”, died on Sunday, aged 71.
Throughout its history the church has voiced support for the French and American revolutions, women’s rights and gay marriage.
Early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft studied at the church in the 18th century – hence the claim that it was the birthplace of feminism.
Dr Pakula believes the world would have been different without Reed.
“There are many people who feel a distinct need to say goodbye,” he added.
“This event is intended for anyone and everyone whose life has been touched by his music and poetry, be they old rock stars, young musicians or just ordinary folk.”