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Missing Poets: Looking for Cabell McLean

Cabell McLean

(5th February 1952 – 1st December 2004)


“Boulder at sunrise… .36-caliber pistol… It was me all the time of course… Cabell was me… the curse came down from me….”

William S. Burroughs, My Education: A Book of Dreams


“Cabell Lee Hardy was Burroughs companion in Boulder, Colorado in the late 1970s, and they remained friends thereafter.”

James Grauerholz, Note to Last Words by William S. Burroughs


At first glance, Cabell McLean (aka Cabell Hardy aka Lee Angel Hardy) could almost have stepped from the pages of the novels of William S.  Burroughs: descended from American literary innovator, James Branch Cabell (author of Jurgen, for whom he was named), he was a cross-dressing drug-taking gender-bending Wild Boy who also had an academic background in History, Literature & Medicine  – having studied Elizabethan & Jacobean Drama, Fitzgerald & Cabell; reading Chaucer in the original and speaking Mandarin Chinese – was a keen student at Naropa, tutored by Larry Fagin, Michael Brownstein and Ann Waldman, shared a flat with William Burroughs Snr. – hung out, fought, and was friends with Billy Jnr. – was published alongside Jim Carroll, Gregory Corso, and Allen Ginsberg, in the likes of Bombay Gin, Heroin Addict, Huncke-Times, and the Washington Review (where the first-ever excerpt from what would become The Place of Dead Roads was published as “From Gay Gun” and attributed to William Burroughs AND Cabell McLean), and later Ashé Journal of Experimental Spirituality, the anthology Playback: The Magic of William S. Burroughs (Rebel Satori Press), and now Academy 23 – was pals with John Giorno and Herbert Huncke – later lived at the epicentre of the New York Punk scene, flatmates with Calliope Nicholas and Patrick Mack, managing his band The Stimulators (‘Loud Fast Rules!’) – yet later resurfaced as Lee Angel Hardy to become a tireless AIDS/HIV activist, setting up ARIC and writing the 302-page ARIC’s AIDS Medical Glossary – all of which he characteristically dismissed as “just being a Johnson” – and then latterly appearing at the Stockholm Spoken Word Festival in 1999 (in part thanks to the tireless efforts of Genesis P-Orridge), where he spoke at length for the first time about his life, his work, and his friendship with William S. Burroughs (whose companion he was from 1976-1983, the two remaining lifelong friends), something he had assiduously avoided cashing in on – despite previous offers of money and publication.

Cabell McLean tragically died of complications on Hepatitis and HIV in 2004. He is survived by his life-partner of 18 years, Eric K. Lerner, who retains Cabell’s archive of letters, manuscripts, photos & recordings.

In collaboration with Eric, WhollyBooks are in the process of cataloguing & reviewing Cabell’s unique archive, with a view to publishing a limited edition chapbook (for late Summer-early Autumn 2013) which will gather together remembrances of Cabell, the best of his short work and excerpts from his unpublished longer works, and look at his long-term association, collaboration, and friendship with William S. Burroughs.

If anybody is interested in being kept informed of our progress, or knew Cabell McLean, or thinks that they might have something to offer, please get in touch via

Thank You.


“Cabell McLean was one of William Burroughs’ ‘Wild Boys’, but maybe a lone wolf separated from the pack.”

Emma Doeve, Introduction to Legend Days Begun, by Cabell McLean