Hackney chapel rocks a wake on the wild side

Green unitarian chapel building London 50513 © david.altheer@gmail.com

A MEMORIAL service for Lou (Velvet Underground) Reed is to be held by a North London chapel, and it has attracted a record crowd. [Yes, “record”. I got it. – Ed.] Seats in the church were booked within 48 hours.

In case you’re thinking the reason for a North London church to commemorate a New York musician must be a desire for publicity, you may be wrong. The Newington Green Unitarian Chapel says its congregation “has always walked on the wild side as a centre for dissent”. Walk on the Wild Side was one of Reed’s biggest  hits.

The “celebration of Lou Reed’s life and genius”, entitled Wake On The Wild Side [Like it: worthy of a perfect day. – Ed.], is to encourage people inspired by his work to pay tribute to the “visionary musician”, who died last Sunday 27 October 2013 at 71.

The wake promises to be a slebfest. Bands, musicians, poets and what the church calls “ordinary people” are being asked to perform, speak or just attend the wake, led by minister Andy Pakula, in his own words, an “American Jewish atheist”. Song sheets will help the congregation to sing along to Perfect Day, Satellite of LoveSweet Jane and Walk on the Wild Side. [That last’ll be tricky. –  Ed.]


The Arctic Monkeys played a cover of Wild Side at a concert the day after Reed’s death. Pearl Jam has also recorded his work.

The wake is being co-organised with writer Stefan Simanowitz, who told Loving Dalston: “Earlier this week I was 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 Pakula, which read: ‘Would anyone like to organise a rocking memorial service for Lou Reed? I’ll supply the North London church’.”

He contacted Pakula and the two started planning the wake. 

In its 305-year existence, the chapel has voiced support for the French and American revolutions, women’s rights, and gay marriage. Proto-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft studied there in the 18th century; hence the excessive claim made by the sign, see picture above, the Birthplace of Feminism.

Lewis Allen Reed was born into a middle-class family on 2 March 1942 and died of liver problems.

Hamish Scott 301013

* Wake on the Wild Side, Newington Green Unitarian Chapel, Hackney N16 9PR, Sunday 3 November 2013, 3pm. Seating is limited and has been fully allocated

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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One thought on “Hackney chapel rocks a wake on the wild side

  1. It’s so inspiring to see how a community of people can galvanise to organise this most fitting memorial for Lou Reed. I’m playing Lou Reed songs all afternoon and so will be thinking of you.

    Susan Morris, trustee

    The Natural Death Centre Charity http://www.naturaldeath.org.uk

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