This month, we are celebrating the 110th anniversary of the birth of William S. Burroughs. Today, however, I would like to remind our readers of some people who have contributed to Burroughs’ legacy but have passed away during the last ten years.

Scientologist! William S Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult'

Firstly, there was Charles Gatewood, who passed in 2016 at the age of 73. Charles took various photos of Burroughs, including the one that features on the cover of my own book, Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult.’ I got to know Charles whilst writing the book and will forever be grateful to him for sharing with me his memories and photographs. Charles’ work included famous photos of Bob Dylan and David Bowie. He said “For my personal work, I preferred strange, edgy subjects,” which perhaps explains why he was drawn to Burroughs.

In 2018, we lost Joe Ambrose, who wrote many books that often referred to Burroughs. Ambrose wrote about Burroughs and related subjects, such as Brion Gysin and Tangier. He directed the film Destroy All Rational Thought: Celebrating William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin in Ireland and edited (with A.D. Hitchen) the collection Cut-Up! An Anthology Inspired by the Cut-up Method.


Genesis P-Orridge passed away in 2020. P-Orridge first contacted Burroughs in 1973 and the two became friends. They even became collaborators in a sense when P-Orridge edited Burroughs’ cut-up tape recordings into the 1981 album, Nothing Here Now But The Recordings. There’s a great overview of their relationship in this essay by Matthew Levi Stevens.

Just a few months ago, we lost Ted Morgan, author of the wonderful Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs. Morgan, a fascinating character in his own right, produced a book that remained the primary biographical source until Barry Miles’ 2014 biography, Call Me Burroughs: A Life.

It is worth noting David Bowie just as I end this, if only for the famous interview and photo of the two men. Bowie passed away in 2016.