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Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll was an American poet, diarist, and rock musician associated with the downtown arts scene in New York City. He was born in New York City on August 1, 1949 to Thomas J. Carroll and Agnes Carroll (née Coyle). Growing up, he primarily attended Catholic schools, graduating from Trinity School in 1968. While in school, Carroll was a star basketball player; he also began using heroin. He documented his teenage years in his book The Basketball Diaries, first published in 1978.

As a teenager, Carroll attended readings at the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church, where he associated with poets such as Anne Waldman, Ted Berrigan, Bill Berkson, and Allen Ginsberg. He published his first book of poetry, Organic Trains, in 1967. By 1969, his poems had been published in literary magazines such as The Paris Review, Adventures in Poetry, and the Poetry Project's The World.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, Carroll was active in New York City's Lower East Side arts scene. He was friends with musicians and artists such as Patti Smith and Larry Rivers, worked at Andy Warhol's Factory, and was a habitué of Max's Kansas City. He described these experiences, and his experiences living with heroin addiction, in Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973 (1987).

In 1973, Carroll sought treatment for heroin addiction. The following year, he moved to Bolinas, California, where he met Rosemary Klemfuss. The two were married in 1978. They divorced ten years later.

Carroll's career as a rock musician began in 1978, when he appeared with Patti Smith in concert. He formed the Jim Carroll Band, a punk/new wave band whose founding members consisted of Brian Linsley, Steve Linsley, Terrell Winn, and Wayne Woods, with Carroll as lead singer and lyricist. Later members included composer-guitarists John Tiven and Lenny Kaye. The Jim Carroll Band's first album, Catholic Boy, was released in 1980 by Rolling Stones Records. The band went on to release two more albums, Dry Dreams (1982) and I Write Your Name (1984), before dissolving in 1984.

Carroll continued to write lyrics and collaborate with musicians through the 1980s and 1990s. He wrote lyrics for Boz Scaggs and Blue Öyster Cult, and performed spoken word with accompaniment by musicians such as Kaye and Allen Lanier. He released a spoken word album, Praying Mantis, in 1991. His 1998 album Pools of Mercury included spoken word and songs written with Anton Sanko, Erik Sanko, Robert Roth, and others. In 1995, The Basketball Diaries and Carroll's short story, "Curtis's Charm," were both adapted to film.

Carroll's books of poetry include Living at the Movies (1973), The Book of Nods (1986), Fear of Dreaming (1993), and Void of Course (1998). At the time of his death in 2009, he was in the final stages of writing a novel, The Petting Zoo, which he had been working on since the 1980s. The novel was published in 2010.

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