Jim Carroll, punk poet and rock laureate of the Bowery, is dead.
I am truly upset, though not entirely surprised. With his hard way of living on sex, drugs and rock and roll, 60 does seem like a respectable age. However, he was a talented writer and poet. Many people know his high school notebooks were published as The Basketball Diaries, which was turned into a movie, starring Leo DiCaprio.
He was an all star athlete growing up. He also worked for Andy Warhol and eventually ended up managing the Warhol Theater. He started his rock group, The Jim Carroll Band, at the encouragement of Patti Smith. PATTI SMITH! Can you imagine her encouraging anything?
Carroll has also collaborated with musicians Lou Reed , Blue Öyster Cult, Boz Scaggs , Ray Manzarek of The Doors , Pearl Jam, Rancid and Lenny Kaye.
I used to play the mp3 of ‘People Who Died’ all the time on my radio show, Under The Influence, and on my show on Sirius’ DIY Radio on Distortion. It was a punk classic. I played it so frequently that my old boyfriend decided I needed to have Jim Carroll on pristine vinyl.
One day he came home from a record swap meet with a Jim Carroll record for me. I excitedly took it out of the paper bag and stared at an image of a hippie-styled folk singer with his shirt unbuttoned down to his navel, swirls of long, curly brown hair falling around his shoulders, as he lazily reclined in a grassy field.
“This isn’t my Jim Carroll.” I said, disappointed. “I don’t know what this is.”
“Sure it is. Jim Carroll. Says it right there.” He said.
“Jim Carroll has red hair and is a pale, ex-heroin addict from the Bowery. This guy…should be in Pippin. It’s not Jim Carroll.”
“Yes it is!” My boyfriend said, putting it on the turn table. A folky, Celtic song that would make Jethro Tull hang up his purple jester boots began to play in the living room. “See? Jim Carroll!”
I still remember that proud look on his face deflating, as a flute section chimed in. Even he knew that bands Patti Smith hand picks to groom to play at CBGBs don’t have wind sections. He had found a folkie Jim of the same name. How could he have made such a huge blunder? One look at the album cover would tell you this Monterey Pop looking dude had never been on the horse, unless it was atop a steed during a Stonehenge building re-enactment. And he certainly wasn’t The Jim Carroll who was lauded by William S. Burroughs and Lou Reed.
Oh, well. He got points for trying, I guess…but, really.
I’m not sure what happened to the other record. I think my ex actually liked it and probably claimed it in the divorce. I continue to listen to my preferred Jim.
There was only one Jim Carroll for me.
Rest In Peace.
Jim Carroll, Poet and Punk Rocker, Is DeadBy The New York Times
Jim Carroll, the poet and punk rocker in the outlaw tradition of Rimbaud and Burroughs who chronicled his wild youth in “The Basketball Diaries,” died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60.
The cause was a heart attack, said Rosemary Carroll, his former wife.
As a teenage basketball star in the 1960s at Trinity, an elite private school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Mr. Carroll led a chaotic life that combined sports, drugs and poetry. This highly unusual combination lent a lurid appeal to “The Basketball Diaries,” the journal he kept during high school and published in 1978, by which time his poetry had already won him a cult reputation as the new Bob Dylan.