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William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock n Roll

Casey Rae

2 Reviews

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Music

William Burroughs' life and art, situated in the context of the most radical and influential rock n roll stars of the late twentieth century

William S. Burroughs's fiction and essays are legendary, but his influence on music's counterculture has been less well documented-until now. Examining how one of America's most controversial literary figures altered the destinies of many notable and varied musicians, William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock 'n' Roll reveals the transformations in music history that can be traced to Burroughs.

A heroin addict and a gay man, Burroughs rose to notoriety outside the conventional literary world; his masterpiece, Naked Lunch, was banned on the grounds of obscenity, but its nonlinear structure was just as daring as its content. Casey Rae brings to life Burroughs's parallel rise to fame among daring musicians of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, when it became a rite of passage to hang out with the author or to experiment with his cut-up techniques for producing revolutionary lyrics (as the Beatles and Radiohead did). Whether they tell of him exploring the occult with David Bowie, providing Lou Reed with gritty depictions of street life, or counseling Patti Smith about coping with fame, the stories of Burroughs's backstage impact will transform the way you see America's cultural revolution-and the way you hear its music.

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Praise for William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock n Roll

  • The ultimate guide to Burroughs as counter-cultural contagion

  • There's a brilliant idea behind Casey Rae's William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock 'n' Roll, which is that if you simply follow Burroughs through the rock 'n' roll years you'll see him achieve a flickering ubiquity - lurking here, eavesdropping there, photobombing the whole parade. It becomes a kind of alternative history - New York Times

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