Celebrate William S. Burroughs’ 100th Birthday With 12 Cultural Icons on His Influence

There are about a hundred tags one could pin to William S. Burroughs, from lunatic to revolutionary, and just about everything in between. He is one of the most misunderstood artists of the last century — and also one of the most influential, his dirty fingerprint smudged all over the culture, from noise music to the films of David Cronenberg. Today, on his 100th birthday, we’re looking back at some of the icons who Burroughs had an impact on. It’s an impressive roster of names, but these 12 barely scratch the surface when it comes to just how far his influence stretches.

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The advice that William gave me was “build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful — be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.”

Patti Smith