Wow, that's big. I had a feeling he wasn't doing that great after his liver transplant.
Very few people have had as big an influence on rock and roll. What did Brian Eno say? Something like "The Velvet Underground's first record only sold a few thousand copies, but everybody who bought one started a band." That about says it.
Besides the great songwriting and the too-cool-to-give-a-damn monotone vocals, I love listening to him play. As a droning rhythm dynamo, combining rhythm and lead with Mike Rathke or the late great Robert Quine, or breaking out his own energetic, chaotic, idiosyncratic leads, he was an unforgettable guitarist.
You can't go far reading about Lou Reed without getting the feeling that he was a very difficult person to deal with. And he was notoriously reticent to do interviews. But the music will stand.