Legendary columnist Glenn O’Brien has passed away at the age of 70. The celebrated writer’s passing was announced on April 7. For many years, O’Brien was known as “The Style Guy” in GQ magazine. In a fitting tribute, the magazine said in a tweet, “We’re deeply saddened by the news of Glenn O’Brien’s passing. He was a legend, an artist, and the wittiest writer we knew.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. O’Brien Passed Away After Pneumonia Complications
According to Arts News, O’Brien had been battling various illnesses over the last few years. He succumbed to complications from pneumonia. The same obituary refers to O’Brien as someone who “shaped the cultural identity of 1980s New York.”
2. O’Brien Is Survived By His Wife of Many Years, Gina Nanni
O’Brien is survived by his wife of 18 years Gina Nanni. In a 2014 interview with Man Repeller, O’Brien described working in Barney’s with Nanni and thinking of her as “one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen.” The couple were together for five years before getting married in 1999.
3. He’s Believed to Have Coined the Phrase ‘Editor-at-Large’
Among his many achievements, O’Brien is thought to have coined the phrase “Editor-at-large” during his time working as the editor of High Times magazine. The joke was based on the FBI’s Most Wanted posters which referred to suspects as being “at-large.” Traditionally, an at-large editor has less of an input to the day-to-day running of a publication. When asked by Hype Beast about the term, O’Brien said, “As far as I know, I was the first one. Maybe someday I’ll find out somebody was doing that in 1935. At Spin [Magazine] I was the “Tri-State Editor” which I thought was pretty funny. I used to say that it was like being asleep, being awake, and being high.”
4. O’Brien’s Passing Is Being Met With Extreme Sadness on Twitter
Understandably, the news of O’Brien’s passing is being met with extreme sadness on Twitter. O’Brien had been an adopter of the medium. His bio reads, “Cogito ergo sum,” aka “I think, therefore I am.” He had gone by the moniker @LordRochester on the site.
Here are some of the most poignant tributes:
5. O’Brien Believed It Was His Crotch That Was Featured on the Cover of the Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers Album
The Rolling Stones’ famed 1971 album Sticky Fingers featured a man’s crotch on the cover. It had been designed by Andy Warhol. The artist had said that the man featured was one of Warhol’s favorite artists Joe Dallesandro. In June 2015, O’Brien told the New York Post that he was “100 Percent” sure it was his crotch, not Dallesandro. He told the tabloid, “I knew it was me because it was my underwear! [Warhol] just said it was for a Rolling Stones album cover. I was a huge fan, so I was pleased, and also I got paid $100. Not bad for 20 minutes’ work.”