James Dennis Carroll (August 1, 1949 – September 11, 2009)[1] was an American author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll was best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries, which inspired a 1995 film of the same title that starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll, and his 1980 song "People Who Died" with the Jim Carroll Band.

Jim Carroll
In Seattle, 2000
In Seattle, 2000
BornJames Dennis Carroll
(1949-08-01)August 1, 1949
New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 11, 2009(2009-09-11) (aged 60)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, poet, musician
Notable workThe Basketball Diaries
Rosemary Klemfuss
(m. 1978, divorced)
Musical career
LabelsAtlantic Records

Early lifeEdit

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 Rice High School in Harlem, 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)

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 Amsterdam, 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] The musicians were Steve Linsley (bass), Wayne Woods (drums - he had previously been in hard rock band, Estus), Brian Linsley and Terrell Winn (guitars). He performed a spoken word piece with the Patti Smith Group in San Diego when the support band dropped out at the last moment.[citation needed]

They changed their name to The Jim Carroll Band and were able to secure a recording contract with Atlantic Records with the support of the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards. They released a single, "People Who Died", taken from their 1980 debut album Catholic Boy, originally intended to be released on Rolling Stones Records. The single would make it to No. 103 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.[15][16] The album featured contributions from Allen Lanier and Bobby Keys.[citation needed] The first known use of "People Who Died" in film was in Steven Spielberg's 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial opening the first scene with dialogue while the boys play Dungeons & Dragons. It was also 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.[17] 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 their album Rise with vocals by Johnny Depp.[citation needed] The song's title was based on a poem by Ted Berrigan.[18] 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]

"People Who Died" was most recently used in the 2021 film The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn, and the end credits of the Season 4 The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel episode "Everything Is Bellmore", paying tribute to late cast member Brian Tarantina.

Personal lifeEdit

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 working at his desk when he died.[19] His funeral mass was held at Our Lady of Pompeii Catholic Church on Carmine Street in Greenwich Village.[20]



  • Organic Trains (1967)
  • 4 Ups and 1 Down (Angel Hair Press; 1970)
  • Living at the Movies (Penguin Books; September 24, 1973)
  • The Book of Nods (Puffin; April 1, 1986)
  • Fear of Dreaming: The Selected Poems (Penguin Books; November 1, 1993)
  • Void of Course: Poems 1994–1997 (Penguin Books; October 1, 1998) ISBN 0-14-058909-0
  • 8 Fragments for Kurt Cobain (1994)




Spoken wordEdit


Compilations and soundtracksEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ a b c Mallon, Thomas (December 6, 2010). "Off the Rim: Jim Carroll's "The Petting Zoo"". The New Yorker. New York City: Condé Nast. pp. 90–93. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Williams, Alex (September 25, 2009). "The Last Days of Jim Carroll". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Jim Carroll: Poet, punk rocker and author of 'The Basketball Diaries'". The Independent. London, England: Independent Print Ltd. October 26, 2009. Archived from the original on June 8, 2022.
  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.
  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'". Los Angeles Times. 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. ^ "US Hot 100 Bubbling Under (1959-2005)". top40weekly.com. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  16. ^ "Jim Carroll Band Top Songs". musicvf.com. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  17. ^ Jim Carroll at AllMusic
  18. ^ MacAdams, Lewis (September 16, 2009). "Remembering Jim Carroll". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  19. ^ "CatholicBoy.com". Catholicboy.com. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "CatholicBoy.com". Catholicboy.com. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  22. ^ "Edelweiss". Edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
  23. ^ "Pools of Mercury - Jim Carroll | Release Info". AllMusic.
  24. ^ "Jim Carroll - Pools Of Mercury CD Album". Cduniverse.com.
  25. ^ "Pools of Mercury - Jim Carroll | Release Info". AllMusic.
  26. ^ "Jim Carroll - Praying Mantis CD Album". Cduniverse.com.

External linksEdit