HST is dead. Hunter S. Thompson, the maverick journalist and
Hunter S. Thompson, 65, Author, Commits
By MICHELLE O'DONNELL
Published: February 21, 2005
author whose savage chronicling of the underbelly of American life and politics
embodied a new kind of nonfiction writing he called "gonzo journalism," died
yesterday in Colorado. Tricia Louthis, of the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office,
said Mr. Thompson had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in
Woody Creek, Colo., yesterday afternoon. He was 65.
Mr. Thompson, a magazine and newspaper writer who also wrote almost a dozen
books, was perhaps best known for his book, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,"
which became a Hollywood movie in 1998. But he was better known for his
hard-driving lifestyle and acerbic eye for truth which he used in the style of
first-person reporting that came to be known as "gonzo" in the 1960's, where the
usually-anonymous reporter becomes a central character in the story, a conduit
Hunter S. Thompson, the maverick journalist and
"Nobody really knows what it means, but it sounds like an epithet," he said
in an interview that, for him, journalism "can be an effective political
Hunter Stockton Thompson was born in Louisville, Ky, on July 18, 1939, the
son of an insurance agent. He was educated in the public school system and
joined the United States Air Force after high school. There, he was introduced
to journalism, covering sports for an Air Force newspaper at Eglin Air Force
Base in Florida. He was honorably discharged in 1958 and then worked a series of
jobs writing for small-town newspapers.
It was in the heat of deadline that gonzo journalism was born while he was
writing a story about the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan's magazine, he recounted
years later in an interview in Playboy magazine.
"I'd blown my mind, couldn't work," he told Playboy. "So finally I just
started jerking pages out of my notebook and numbering them and sending them to
the printer. I was sure it was the last article I was ever going to do for
Instead, he said, the story drew raves and he was inundated with letters and
phone calls from people calling it "a breakthrough in journalism," an experience
he likened to "falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool of
He went on to become a counter cultural hero with books and articles that
skewered America's hypocrisy.
"He wrote to provoke, shock, protest and annoy," Timothy Crouse wrote in his
book "The Boys on the Bus," about the 1972 presidential campaign.
Mr. Thompson influenced a generation of writers who saw in his pioneering
first-person, at times over-the-top writing style.
As a young man, he was heavily influenced by Jack Kerouac and wholeheartedly
followed Kerouac's approach in which the writer revels in his struggles with
Among his books were "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear
and Loathing on the Campiagn Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "Generation of
Swine" and "Songs for the Doomed."
This is a great loss for American Journalism. And I'm in utter disbelief and denial... HST is a personal hero of mine...
Don't take any guff from this monkey swine