April 11, 2016 2:24 AM EDT

Howard Marks, the Welsh author, raconteur and former drug smuggler, who rose to fame after releasing his autobiography Mr. Nice, in 1996, has died following a battle with cancer. He was 70.

News of Marks’ death broke on Sunday, with many describing him as a “truly lovely, entertaining and inspiring man,” the Guardian reported.

Marks released his memoirs soon after being released from a U.S. prison, where he had been incarcerated for drug offenses in 1988 but from which he was released on parole after serving seven years of a 25-year sentence. He later briefly worked in the music industry, heading a record label and becoming a DJ. He also gave talks about his life across the U.K. and performed a one-man comedy show called An Audience with Mr. Nice.

A movie on his autobiography was released in 2006, featuring actor Rhys Ifans in the lead role.

Marks had done “so many funny, shocking, illegal things,” James Brown, founder of Loaded magazine, for which Marks wrote a weekly column in the 1990s, told the Guardian. “He stood for everything we loved,” Brown added, calling Marks a “true modern-day folk hero.”


More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

Read More From TIME

Related Stories