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Lou Reed mourners had to be turned away from Newington Green wake for music legend

PUBLISHED: 19:28 08 November 2013

Musicians performing during a public memorial service for the late musician, at Newington Green Unitarian Chapel.

Musicians performing during a public memorial service for the late musician, at Newington Green Unitarian Chapel.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mourners had to be turned away from the Newington Green Unitarian Church on Sunday as the building was packed with those paying tribute to American singer/songwriter Lou Reed.

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The “Wake on the Wild Side”, organised by minister Andy ­Pakula and journalist Stephan Simanowitz, attracted more than 160 people whose lives had been touched by the former the Velvet Underground star, who died last week at the age of 71.

The event was organised on Facebook over a matter of days and free tickets were taken up in less than 48 hours, with priority given to those who could contribute something to the service.

Mr Pakula, minister for New Unity, which runs the church, said: “Last Tuesday I put up a message on Facebook asking if anybody wanted to do a ­memorial – I’ve got the church if you want to ­organise it.

“Stefan Simanowitz, who I didn’t know, had been looking for a memorial for Lou Reed. We met two days later, halfway through organising it.

“We ticketed it because the capacity is only 160 and we had to turn people away. Most of the people I had never seen before in my life.”

The service involved music from band Friday Club who travelled down from Birmingham and played songs influenced by their idol as well as covering his tracks.

There were also a number of readings of lyrics written by Reed as well as a meditation and speeches from mourners who spoke of what the deceased star had meant to them.

“What was so powerful was that so many people felt like Lou was talking to them. He made it OK to be yourself.

“That’s what Lou Reed was, he embraced all of life and he really was a person who changed the world.

“This was like people coming together to form an instant community – only Lou Reed could provoke that sort of reaction.”

Reed died on ­October 27 from liver disease whilst doing tai chi.

Ribbons bearing messages to Reed were tied to the railings outside of the church.

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