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Revelations from Lou Reed's archivist.


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Don Fleming, rock musician (Gumball, Dinosaur Jr, Velvet Monkeys) and producer (Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub, Hole, Alice Cooper, Dictators, Joan Jett, Richard Hell) is also one of rock & roll’s preeminent archivists. In recent months, he helped organize Lou Reed’s massive archive. Michael Shelley spoke with him about the project and about his career in the trenches.

Don Fleming is one of rock & roll’s preeminent archivists. He’s a journeyman musician who seems most at home in the small overlap where Art Rock crosses paths with the more commercial portion of the music world. His approach can be heard on the many sessions he’s played on and the many bands he’s been a part of, including Gumball, a short stint in Dinosaur Jr, and his ever evolving Velvet Monkeys.

Don’s combined unique musical sensibilities and technical prowess were in high demand during the Grunge years when his resume as producer exploded, it includes work with Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub, Hole, The Posies, Alice Cooper, The Dictators, Joan Jett, The Smithereens and Richard Hell.

When Lou Reed died, his widow Laurie Anderson was faced with the task of figuring out what to do with his things. I imagine the personal objects were kept or given to close friends, and that it was the hundreds of boxes of career spanning paperwork, receipts and contracts and correspondence, that posed the problem. For most people that stuff would be junk, fodder for the recycling bin, but this was Lou Reed’s recycling! To solve the most basic questions of what was in all the boxes, and if it had value as historical documentation, Laurie enlisted some of Lou’s long time staff, and Don Fleming. After their painstaking cataloging and analysis a deal was reached with The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center Plaza where the archive will be housed, open to fans and academics who are curious to have a look into the life of Lou Reed.

I spoke to Don Fleming about the process of archiving, what they found in all those boxes and what it all tells us about the man.




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