Feature

Remembering Jim Carroll

A look back at the life of the 'Basketball Diaries' author and iconic punk rocker

Jim Carroll, "the poet and punk rocker in the outlaw tradition of Rimbaud and Burroughs," said William Grimes in The New York Times, died from a heart attack on Friday at the age of 60. He was perhaps best known for his 1978 book The Basketball Diaries, which chronicled his excessive drug use as a teenage basketball star at an elite private school in Manhattan, and was turned into a movie (watch the trailer) in 1995 starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.

But it was Carroll's "raw and fiery poetry" in collections such as Organic Trains and 4 Ups and 1 Down, said the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, that "quickly earned him a reputation as a new Bob Dylan." Carroll was "lauded" by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and "spent time with and around some of the most acclaimed poets" of his generation. He also worked at Andy Warhol's Factory, collaborated with Lou Reed, and lived for a period of time with Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith.

It was Patti Smith who "coaxed" Carroll into music, said Daniel Kreps in Rolling Stone, leading him to form the Jim Carroll Band, whose 1980 debut album, Catholic Boy, "is considered a landmark of the New York punk scene." And Carroll's talent "caught the eye of the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, who helped the Jim Carroll Band secure a three-record deal." The band's music even entered the mainstream—Carroll's "People Who Died" (watch the video) was featured on the soundtrack of Steven Spielberg's E.T.

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