Born into a wealthy St. Louis, Missouri family, William S. Burroughs moved to Greenwich Village in the mid-1940s, where he met and married Joan Vollmer. Vollmer introduced Burroughs to Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Burroughs took up writing and became a guiding spirit to the Beat Generation. Because of their heavy use of drugs, the couple (and their baby, William Jr.) eventually fled to Mexico. In 1951, in a drunken game of William Tell, Burroughs shot and killed Vollmer. Acquitted, Burroughs sank deeper into heroin addiction and finally flew to Europe to detox for good. It was after Vollmer's death that he openly acknowledged his homosexuality. He moved to Lawrence, Kansas in 1981 and lived there until his death from a heart attack in 1997. Burroughs influenced not only writers, but musicians like David Bowie and Patti Smith, who used the cut-up techniques that Burroughs developed; the groups Steely Dan (whose name comes from NAKED LUNCH) and the Rolling Stones (who wrote songs about several of his characters); Lou Reed, and Richard Hell. Burroughs was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Commandant de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres of France.