William Burroughs was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation, he is considered to be “one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century.” In the music industry he is a cultural legend, having influenced several generations musicians. He is on the album cover of The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“, he is in the video for the U2 song “Last Night on Earth“, he released a collaboration with Kurt Cobain and his writings even inspired the band name Steely Dan.
His cult like status in the music industry is evident in these photos of Burroughs with some of the musicians he has inspired. Remember, these musicians wanted to meet him, not the other way around…
Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) & Michael Stipe
And finally Kurt Cobain, who even collaborated with his idol Burroughs on a lengthy 9:42 song titled The “Priest” They Called Him (1992) in which Cobain provided a distorted guitar backing track behind Burroughs spoken word. The two did not meet in person during the collaboration but they did meet a year later at Burroughs home in Lawrence, Kansas in October of 1993.
As Kurt drove away, Burroughs remarked to his assistant,
“There’s something wrong with that boy; he frowns for no good reason.”
The “Priest” They Called Him (1992)
William S. Burroughs died on August 2, 1997 but he left an infinite amount of material to the future generations.