Publishing maverick Felix Dennis died on June 22, 2014. He was a favorite at 2paragraphs–a great character who won many battles before losing his last one, to cancer. Below is a 2paragraphs bio of Felix that originally ran in February.
Felix Dennis grew up poor but that was a long, long time ago. The English poet and early tech evangelist has been so successful in publishing that, among contemporary poets, he is nearly alone in needing to remember to diversify as well as versify. Among the first to recognize the emerging computer consumer culture, Dennis created familiar magazines like MacUser and the catalogue MicroWarehouse, which began to sell gadgetry direct to a hungry consumer base–it had sales of over $2 billion when it went public in 1992. Not to mention PC World and Computer Shopper. One trick pony? Not a man who once got John Lennon to record a single with him to help raise money for some pesky legal troubles. Which brings up something that’s little remarked upon: rock and roll’s close relations with the computer classes. Steve Jobs didn’t wear a pocket protector; he had the Beatles and Dylan up his sleeve. And rock gods of the 60s and 70s were all studio geeks and gadget lovers.
So the leap from selling motherboards to something a bit sexier might have been expected from Dennis, whose rock roots run deep. But could you have predicted Maxim, a lad mag so louche it feels icky to Miley? The sucker sells though, like Brazilian wax. Still standing lonesome on the hill where you think the poet and the businessman don’t mix? Well, Shakespeare was a pretty savvy entrepreneur, one is reminded. He’d likely have given his blessing when Dennis read his poetry at Stratford-upon-Avon, with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company at his side. (It’s not a stretch, either, to say that Byron would have enjoyed Maxim.) And finally there is the bold poetic touch informing the startlingly plain title of Dennis’s 2006 book, called simply How To Get Rich. Minimalists everywhere, eat your hearts out. The memoir-cum-instruction manual has the strange distinction of being the only best-selling guide to financial independence ever penned by a self-admitted crack cocaine addict. Ah, Felix Dennis, live the dream.