Monday, 23 June 2014

RIP Felix Dennis

Felix Dennis, the 60s radical, poet, magazine publisher and one of the founders of the infamous Oz magazine passed away yesterday following a battle with throat cancer aged 67.

Highlights in Dennis' career include being hired by Oz in 1967 and spelling Che Guevara's name wrong on a poster to mark his death (he later claimed he got the spelling from The Guardian aka The Grauniad of course, so infamous was it for its typo errors) invading David Frost's chat show, swearing and attacking him with a water pistol in 1969 and being briefly imprisoned in 1971 for Oz's obscenity trial following the notorious 'schoolkids edition'. Upon his release from jail, he was whisked away by John Lennon no less.

In 1991, the BBC produced a TV play entitled The Trials Of Oz to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the trial. Dennis was played by Kevin Allen, the actor/director brother of Keith.

He launched Dennis publishing in 1973, starting with Kung Fu Monthly to cash in on the popularity of Bruce Lee. Other titles included Auto Express, Mac User, Computer Shopper, Maxim and various tie-ins for Hollywood blockbusters like Jaws and Star Wars. Today, Dennis Publishing is a major company responsible for such big titles as Viz, The Week, PC Pro and Men's Fitness and it was he the BBC originally wanted to star in The Apprentice. Dennis declined, claiming firing wasn't his sort of thing and stepped aside for Alan Sugar.

Worth about £500m, and one of the nation's 100 richest men, Dennis claimed to have spent around £100m on sex drugs and rock and roll, which saw him battle an addiction to crack cocaine in the 1990s which, after kicking it, led to him becoming a poet. He penned around 1,500 poems including one for his charity The Heart of England Forest, which plans to create a broadleaf tree forest in Warwickshire; "Whosoever plants a tree, winks at immortality"

It wasn't his only charitable endeavour, earlier this year he secured laptops for 12,500 schoolchildren in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Dennis said that his interests were "commissioning bronze sculptures, drinking French wine and avoiding business meetings"

In 2008, Dennis was the subject of some controversy and suspicion when it was alleged that he told a reporter, during a very boozy lunch, that he had once killed a man who had made the life of a woman Dennis knew "a living misery. He beat her up, beat her kids up, wouldn't let her alone, kept on...I killed him. That's all you need to know" 

He was certainly unique.


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