Lou Reed entered the '70s as a solo artist after a celebrated career as the leader of the influential Velvet Underground.

Thing is, it took most music fans a few years to actually find something worth celebrating in Reed's abrasive, and unconventional, music in the Underground. As time went on, his influence on punk, New Wave, college rock, alternative music and indie rock was undisputed. But back in the early '70s, when he left the Velvet Underground for a solo career, nobody was sure how long he would even last. But as our list of Lou Reed Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness proves, it was a long and productive career.

For a while there, it didn't seem like he was going to make it out alive. He did drugs. Lots of them. He lost weight. Lots. He was argumentative, difficult and contrary to the point where he alienated fans, record-company executives, other artists and anyone who came into his orbit at the time. He mellowed a little -- just a little -- over the years, but he was one of rock's legendary grumps to the end.

But he earned the right to his cantankerous reputation time and time again. His first few solo albums were made up of discarded Velvet Underground songs. He even had a hit record in 1972 with "Walk on the Wild Side." But he was challenging every step of the way -- from the ambitious concept albums he released frequently throughout his career to the noise-rock middle finger of Metal Machine Music to Lulu, his last album, a collaboration with Metallica that alienated fans of both artists.

The nearly two dozen solo albums Reed released over 40 years are dotted with brilliance, mediocrity and carelessness. But as the above list of Lou Reed Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness shows, he was always one of rock's true originals.

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