Jim Carroll

Last updated

Jim Carroll
Jim Carroll - Seattle WA - September 2000 - Photo by Eric Thompson.jpg
Carroll in Seattle in 2000
James Dennis Carroll

(1949-08-01)August 1, 1949
Manhattan, New York, U.S.(age 71 years)
OccupationAuthor, poet, musician
Years active1967–2009
Known for The Basketball Diaries

James Dennis Carroll (August 1, 1949) [1] was an American author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll was best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries ; the book inspired a 1995 film of the same title that starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.


Early life

Carroll was born to a working-class family of Irish descent, and grew up in New York City's Lower East Side. When he was about 11 (in the sixth grade) his family moved north to Inwood in Upper Manhattan. [2] He was taught by the LaSalle Christian Brothers. In fall 1963, he entered public school, but was soon awarded a scholarship to the elite Trinity School. [2] He attended Trinity from 1964 to 1968. [3]

Carroll was a basketball star in high school, but also developed an addiction to heroin. [3] He financed his drug habit by engaging in prostitution in the vicinity of 53rd Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan. [4] Carroll briefly attended Wagner College and Columbia University. [5] He dated Patti Smith. [3]


Jim Carroll in New York City (2005) Jim Carroll, Author.jpg
Jim Carroll in New York City (2005)

Carroll identified Rainer Maria Rilke, Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, James Schuyler, [6] Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs as influences on his artistic career. [7]


While still in high school, Carroll published his first collection of poems, Organic Trains. Already attracting the attention of the local literati, his work began appearing in the Poetry Project's magazine The World in 1967. Soon his work was being published in elite literary magazines like Paris Review in 1968, [2] and Poetry the following year. In 1970, his second collection of poems, 4 Ups and 1 Down was published, and he started working for Andy Warhol. At first, he was writing film dialogue and inventing character names; later on, Carroll worked as the co-manager of Warhol's Theater. Carroll's first publication by a mainstream publisher (Grossman Publishers), the poetry collection Living at the Movies, was published in 1973. [8]

In 1978, Carroll published The Basketball Diaries, an autobiographical book concerning his life as a teenager in New York City's hard drug culture. Diaries is an edited collection of the diaries he kept during his high school years; it details his sexual experiences, his high school basketball career, and his addiction to heroin. [4] [9] [10]

In 1987, Carroll wrote a second memoir, Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries 1971–1973, continuing his autobiography into his early adulthood in the New York City music and art scene as well as his struggle to kick his drug habit. [11]

After working as a musician, Carroll returned to writing full-time in the mid-1980s and began to appear regularly on the spoken-word circuit. Starting in 1991, Carroll performed readings from his then-in-progress first novel, The Petting Zoo. [12]

In 1995, Canadian filmmaker John L'Ecuyer adapted "Curtis's Charm", a short story from Carroll's 1993 book Fear of Dreaming, into the film Curtis's Charm . [13]


In 1978, after he moved to California to get a fresh start since overcoming his heroin addiction, Carroll formed The Jim Carroll Band, a new wave/punk rock group, with encouragement from Patti Smith, with whom he once shared an apartment in New York City, along with Robert Mapplethorpe. [14] He performed a spoken word piece with the Patti Smith Group in San Diego when the support band dropped out at the last moment. The band was originally called Amsterdam, where they originally formed and were based in Bolinas, California. The musicians were Steve Linsley (bass), Wayne Woods (drums), Brian Linsley and Terrell Winn (guitars).[ citation needed ]

The Jim Carroll Band released a single, "People Who Died", from their 1980 debut album, Catholic Boy . The album featured contributions from Allen Lanier and Bobby Keys.[ citation needed ] "People Who Died" was used in the 1985 Kim Richards film Tuff Turf starring James Spader and Robert Downey Jr., which also featured a cameo appearance by the band.[ citation needed ] It was also used in 2004's Dawn of the Dead , and in the 2015 episode "eps1.9_zer0-day.avi" in Season 1 of Mr. Robot .[ citation needed ] It was featured in the 1995 film The Basketball Diaries (based on Carroll's autobiography),[ citation needed ] and was covered by John Cale on his Antártida soundtrack.[ citation needed ] The song also was covered by the super group Hollywood Vampires on its album "Rise," with vocals by Johnny Depp.[ citation needed ] The song's title was based on a poem by Ted Berrigan. [15] Later albums were Dry Dreams (1982) and I Write Your Name (1983), both with contributions from Lenny Kaye and Paul Sanchez (guitar).[ citation needed ] Carroll also collaborated with musicians Lou Reed, Blue Öyster Cult, Boz Scaggs, Ray Manzarek of The Doors, Pearl Jam, Electric Light Orchestra and Rancid.[ citation needed ]

Personal life and death

Carroll became sober in the 1970s. [3] After moving to California, he met Rosemary Klemfuss; the couple married in 1978. [4] The marriage ended in divorce, but the two remained friends. [3]

Carroll died of a heart attack at his Manhattan home on September 11, 2009, at the age of 60. At the time of his death, he was in ill health due to pneumonia and hepatitis C. [1] He was reportedly working at his desk when he died. [16] His funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Pompeii Catholic Church on Carmine St. in Greenwich Village. [17]






Spoken word


Compilations and soundtracks

See also

Related Research Articles

Patti Smith American singer-songwriter, author, poet and visual artist

Patricia Lee Smith is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, and poet who became an influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses.

<i>Horses</i> (album) 1975 studio album by Patti Smith

Horses is the debut studio album by American musician Patti Smith, released on November 10, 1975, on Arista Records. Smith, a fixture of the then-burgeoning New York punk rock music scene, began recording Horses with her band in 1975 after being signed to Arista Records, with John Cale being enlisted to produce the album. With its fusion of simplistic rock and roll structures and Smith's freeform, Beat poetry-infused lyrics, Horses was met with widespread critical acclaim upon its initial release. Despite a lack of airplay or a popular single to support the album, it nonetheless experienced modest commercial success, managing a top 50 placing on the US Billboard 200.

Richard Hell American actor and musician

Richard Lester Meyers, better known by his stage name Richard Hell, is an American singer, songwriter, bass guitarist and writer.

Sid Vicious English bassist and vocalist

John Simon Ritchie, known professionally as Sid Vicious, was an English bassist and vocalist. He achieved prominence as a member of the Sex Pistols, a British punk rock band. Sid replaced Glen Matlock, who had fallen out of favour with the other members of the group.

<i>...And Out Come the Wolves</i> 1995 studio album by Rancid

...And Out Come the Wolves is the third studio album by the American punk rock band Rancid. It was released on August 22, 1995, through Epitaph Records. Rancid's popularity and catchy songs made them the subject of a major label bidding war that ended with the band staying on Epitaph. With a sound heavily influenced by ska, which called to mind Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman's past in Operation Ivy, Rancid became one of the few bands of the mid-to late-1990s boom in punk rock to retain much of its original fanbase. In terms of record sales and certifications, …And Out Come the Wolves is a popular album in the United States. It produced three hit singles: "Roots Radicals", "Time Bomb" and "Ruby Soho", that earned Rancid its heaviest airplay on MTV and radio stations to date. All the singles charted on Modern Rock Tracks. …And Out Come the Wolves was certified gold by the RIAA on January 22, 1996. It was certified platinum on September 23, 2004.

CBGB former New York City music club

CBGB was a New York City music club opened in 1973 by Hilly Kristal in Manhattan's East Village.

Ray Manzarek American musician

Raymond Daniel Manzarek Jr. was an American musician, singer, producer, film director, and author, best known as a member of The Doors from 1965 to 1973, which he co-founded with singer and lyricist Jim Morrison. Manzarek was notable for performing on a keyboard bass during many live shows and some recordings, taking on a role usually filled by a bass guitar player.

Lenny Kaye American guitarist, songwriter, producer, journalist

Lenny Kaye is an American guitarist, composer, and writer who is best known as a member of the Patti Smith Group.

Max's Kansas City was a nightclub and restaurant at 213 Park Avenue South in New York City, which became a gathering spot for musicians, poets, artists and politicians in the 1960s and 1970s. It was opened by Mickey Ruskin (1933–1983) in December 1965 and closed in 1981.

<i>The Basketball Diaries</i> (film) 1995 film by Scott Kalvert

The Basketball Diaries is a 1995 American biographical crime drama film directed by Scott Kalvert and based on an autobiographical novel by the same name written by Jim Carroll. It tells the story of Carroll's teenage years as a promising high school basketball player and writer who develops an addiction to heroin. Distributed by New Line Cinema, The Basketball Diaries stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll, along with Bruno Kirby, Lorraine Bracco, Ernie Hudson, Patrick McGaw, James Madio, Michael Imperioli, and Mark Wahlberg in supporting roles.

<i>Catholic Boy</i> 1980 studio album by The Jim Carroll Band

Catholic Boy (1980) is the debut album by The Jim Carroll Band, led by Jim Carroll, who is notable for publishing the 1978 memoir The Basketball Diaries, and poetry collections including Living at the Movies. The album spawned two FM hits, "It's Too Late" and "People Who Died". The front cover photograph was taken by Annie Leibovitz.

Punk literature Anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian independent subcultural writing & DIY-publishing

Punk literature is literature related to the punk subculture. The attitude and ideologies of punk rock gave rise to distinctive characteristics in the writing it manifested. It has influenced the transgressional fiction literary genre, the cyberpunk genre and their derivatives.

Red Rockers were a musical band from New Orleans, Louisiana, active from 1979 to 1985. Originally formed as a hard-charging punk rock band, they changed their style to a smoother, more melodic sound and released two albums in the new wave vein of their record label, 415. They are best known for their 1983 hit single "China".

History of the punk subculture

The history of the punk subculture involves the history of punk rock, the history of various punk ideologies, punk fashion, punk visual art, punk literature, dance, and punk film. Since emerging in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia in the mid-1970s, the punk subculture has spread around the globe and evolved into a number of different forms. The history of punk plays an important part in the history of subcultures in the 20th century.

Danny Fields American journalist

Danny Fields is an American music manager, publicist, journalist and author. As a music industry executive in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, he was one of the most influential figures in the history of punk rock. He signed and managed Iggy and the Stooges, signed the MC5 and managed the Ramones, and worked in various roles with Jim Morrison, the Velvet Underground and the Modern Lovers. In 2014 The New York Times said, "You could make a convincing case that without Danny Fields, punk rock would not have happened."

Ivan Král Czech-American musician

Ivan Král was a Czech-born American composer, filmmaker, record producer, bass guitar player, and singer-songwriter. He worked across genres including punk, rock, jazz, soul, country and film scores. His songs have been recorded by such artists as U2, Pearl Jam, Téléphone, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Simple Minds, First Aid Kit, and John Waite, among others. He died of cancer in 2020, aged 71.

Bart Bull is an American writer, reporter, author, columnist, and critic.

Robert Roth (musician) American musician

Robert Roth is a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of 1990s Sub Pop and Capitol Records band Truly. The band reunited with all original members to play in shows in Seattle, London and Azkena Rock Festival 2008 alongside Ray Davies, the Sex Pistols, Dinosaur Jr. and the Sonics.

The Downtown Diaries is a book written by Jim Carroll depicting his life from the years 1971 to 1973. While the book was called The Downtown Diaries, it was not a literal diary, such as The Basketball Diaries. Carroll had stated that most of Forced Entries was written by memory and may or may not have been totally accurate.

Fontaines D.C. Irish rock band

Fontaines D.C. are a post-punk revival band from Dublin, Ireland, that formed in 2017. Their critically acclaimed debut album, Dogrel won Album of the Year 2019 from both Rough Trade and BBC Radio 6 Music.


  1. 1 2 Grimes, William (September 13, 2009). "Jim Carroll, Poet and Punk Rocker, Is Dead at 60". The New York Times . Retrieved December 18, 2012.(subscription required)
  2. 1 2 3 Mallon, Thomas (December 6, 2010). "Off the Rim: Jim Carroll's "The Petting Zoo"". The New Yorker . New York City: Condé Nast: 90–93. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Williams, Alex (September 25, 2009). "The Last Days of Jim Carroll". The New York Times . New York City: New York Times Company . Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 "Jim Carroll: Poet, punk rocker and author of 'The Basketball Diaries'". The Independent . London, England: Independent Print Ltd. October 26, 2009.
  5. "Jim Carroll: author of The Basketball Diaries". The Times . September 15, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  6. O'Hehir, Andrew (April 12, 1995). "A Poet Half-Devoured – Jim Carroll Feature Articles". CatholicBoy.com. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  7. Goldman, Marlene (January 8, 1999). "Mercury Rising (1999) – Jim Carroll Interviews". CatholicBoy.com. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  8. "Living at the Movies, First Edition - Books by Jim Carroll - CatholicBoy.com". Catholicboy.com. Retrieved July 10, 2009.
  9. Grimes, William (September 14, 2009). "Jim Carroll, Poet and Punk Rocker Who Wrote 'The Basketball Diaries', Dies at 60". The New York Times . New York City: New York Times Company.
  10. "ON LOCATION : Sex, Drugs, Pick and Roll : Jim Carroll's cult favorite 'The Basketball Diaries' is finally making it to the screen. It seems everyone wanted to star. Leonardo DiCaprio made the cut". Los Angeles Times . July 24, 1994. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  11. Carroll, Jim (1987). Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries 1971-1973 . New York City: Penguin Books. ISBN   978-0140085020.
  12. Woo, Elaine (September 14, 2009). "Jim Carroll dies at 60; poet and punk rocker wrote about travails in 'The Basketball Diaries'". Latimes.com. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  13. "The romance of junkie paranoia". The Globe and Mail , September 14, 1995.
  14. Smith, Patti (2010). Just Kids . New York: HarperCollins. pp. 162–164, 166–167. ISBN   978-0-06-093622-8.
  15. MacAdams, Lewis (September 16, 2009). "Remembering Jim Carroll". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  16. "CatholicBoy.com". Catholicboy.com. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  17. Warner, Simon (2013). Text and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture. New York City: Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 370. ISBN   978-1441143037 via Google Books.
  18. "CatholicBoy.com". Catholicboy.com. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  19. "Edelweiss". Edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
  20. "Pools of Mercury - Jim Carroll | Release Info". AllMusic .
  21. "Jim Carroll - Pools Of Mercury CD Album". Cduniverse.com.
  22. "Pools of Mercury - Jim Carroll | Release Info". AllMusic .
  23. "Jim Carroll - Praying Mantis CD Album". Cduniverse.com.