One of the last links to the beat generation has been broken. William S. Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and Junkie died Saturday at age 83 after suffering a heart attack.
The son of a successful St. Louis businessman, Burroughs graduated from Harvard University in 1938 and eventually made his way to New York City where he befriended a circle of drifters and students that included Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Burroughs, first immortalized as Old Bull Lee in Kerouac's On the Road, moved to Texas with his wife, Joan, in 1946.
After accidentally shooting and killing his wife in a drug-addled stage, Burroughs penned Junkie, then disappeared to Tangier, Morocco where he wrote Naked Lunch. Originally published in 1959, but banned in the United States until 1962, Naked Lunch, with its offbeat monikers and cut-up aesthetic, has since become a primary inspiration for later literary and musical movements such as cyberpunk, punk rock and hip-hop.
Burroughs bounced around for the next two decades, battling heroin addiction and publishing sporadically. He briefly found a home back in New York City during the punk era of the late '70s. In 1981, Burroughs moved to Lawrence, Kan., where he lived out the rest of his life.
By now a cultural icon, Burroughs appeared in a number of films, including the award-winning Drugstore Cowboy and the big screen version of Naked Lunch. He produced several spoken-word albums, collaborated with popular musicians including The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and the late Kurt Cobain.
Burroughs' only son, William, died in 1981.
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