William Burroughs has influenced not just the literary world but the whole realm of popular culture. He invented the term "heavy metal", and was the inspiration behind bands as diverse as Steely Dan and Duran Duran. He was notorious for his homosexuality (among his lovers and long-term friends was the poet Allen Ginsberg) and his drug use, and for the bizarre killing of his wife in a notorious shooting accident in Mexico. His friends and benefactors include Andy Warhol, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Lou Reed. But it is the shattering insight of his books that has made him one of the most controversial writers of the century. "Naked Lunch", his most famous book and now a major feature film, was burnt by British Customs. As a close friend of Burroughs, Barry Miles penetrates beneath the drug addict, the homosexual and the gun-toting icon to reveal the motives and techniques of this legendary figure.