Joe Ambrose was described by Booker Prize nominee Patrick McCabe as a "word guerrilla". Drug smuggler, and author of Mr. Nice, Howard Marks said "When I want to know what is happening on the street I go to Joe Ambrose. He invariably knows what is happening. Sometimes he is making it happen."
Joe's hip-hop group Islamic Diggers was described by The Guardian as "the grooviest and newest of the new and groovy".
Joe was the author of 14 books including the novels Serious Time and Too Much Too Soon. Tangier Tsunami a collection of short stories. His nonfiction includes Gimme Danger, the notorious biography of Iggy Pop, Chelsea Hotel Manhattan (extreme travel writing), and Moshpit Culture. He co-wrote Man from Nowhere, a study of the creative relationship between William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, which features additional texts by Burroughs himself, Paul Bowles, Marianne Faithfull, Iggy Pop, John Cale, and others.
The Guardian said of his novel Serious Time: "A Romantic to his bones, he gets down and dirty with an episodic, discursive novel that's a paean to the drug-fuelled psychosexual excesses of eighties Rave culture and the hip-hop club scene. Arrogance, ennui and motiveless acts of vulgarity rule out redemption. Inexhaustibly nasty and unputdownable."
Joe has written for The Guardian, Time Out, The Idler, The Irish Times, and Metal Hammer. In 2007 he was invited by Iggy Pop to write the sleeve notes for an Iggy and the Stooges DVD, Escaped Maniacs.
He has appeared in numerous anthologies including Shenanigans, a collection of fresh Irish fiction. The Independent said that Shenanigans owed: "more to the Chemical Brothers than the Christian Brothers, the characters in these low-life tales have more to fear from a drug squad dawn raid than a guilt-racked confession with a moralising curate."
As a live artist, he shared the stage with John Calder, Lydia Lunch, John Cooper Clarke, John Giorno, Daniel Figgis, Zadie Smith, Richard Hell, Howard Marks, Iain Sinclair, The Stranglers, Julee Cruise, Tav Falco, Suicide, and Harold Budd.
As a DJ/musician he worked with The Gnoua Brotherhood of Marrakesh, Anita Pallenberg, Scanner, Billy Childish, Marianne Faithfull, Lydia Lunch, Paul Bowles, John Cale, The Master Musicians of Joujouka (whom he managed), Chuck Prophet, Herbert Huncke and Bill Laswell.
He organised cultural events at venues such as London's ICA, Dublin's Project Arts Centre, and London's Horse Hospital/Chamber of Pop Culture, which featured the likes of Gerard Malanga, Anita Pallenberg, Genesis P. Orridge, Hakim Bey, Howard Marks, and Hamri the Painter of Morocco.
He co-directed the movie Destroy All Rational Thought featuring William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and the Joujouka musicians. He co-produced the 2CD 10%; File Under Burroughs, a homage to William Burroughs which includes contributions from Stanley Booth, Bill Laswell, Bomb the Bass, Paul Bowles, Burroughs, Brion Gysin and John Cale.
In 2010 he participated in the London gallery show, Dead Fingers talk - The Tape Experiments of William S. Burroughs. This marked the commencement of his musical collaboration with Portuguese duo Alma on an ambitious project inspired by his Chelsea Hotel Manhattan book. The Alma/Joe Ambrose single Radio E/He Also Took That Boat was released in October 2010 with vocals by Arthur Baker and Ira Cohen.
Joe divided his time between Tangier, Morocco, and his native Ireland.
More information can be found at Joe's website, JoeAmbrose.co.uk
Joe Ambrose sadly passed away in 2018
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