Jim Carroll, second from right.
He was a gifted poet, noted libertine, and composer of punk rock nuggets that captivated listeners of college radio throughout the 80s. And even if you've never heard his name, you're probably at least distantly aware of Jim Carroll.
He was immortalized in celluloid when Leonardo DiCaprio played him in a break-out performance in 1995's The Basketball Diaries. And at the age of 60, Jim Carroll died in his home over the weekend of a heart attack.
Jim Carroll reading from Book of Nods for the documentary Poetry In Motion.
Jim Carroll's prose was notable for its careful mix of subtlety and grandiosity. In The Basketball Diaries, Carroll revealed himself as a brilliant, sensitive, and stunningly insightful young man, who's sense of his own plights and perils was always tempered by a tend toward the dramatic and poetic. The book became a breakout success, and Carroll followed it with collections of his poetry and prose like Living at the Movies and 4 Ups and 1 Down.
Carroll also scored cred in the underground punk scene of the 1980s for his song "People Who Died," a catchy, wry catalog of Carroll's friends whom he outlived. It became an FM hit, the only of his music career, and established his name as a sardonic, gifted practitioner of musical black humor.
Carroll became widely known as a socialite, who kept company with Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and other heavy hitters of the New York art scene, and became widely known for his poetic accounts of his own drug use. For much of his youth, Carroll was a practicing heroin addict, a dimension of his life immortalized in The Basketball Diaries.
On September 11, Carroll was found slumped at his desk, where he was at work writing-- he was pronounced dead of a heart attack. He was 60 years old.