Hunter S. Thompson

1937 ~ 2005

A Dedication To A Man Way Ahead Of His Time. Pure Genius.

Part 1:
Hunter S. Thompson dead at 67 ~ 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' author takes own life

Part 2:
Taking Risks

Part 3:
'Shock and Dismay'

Part 4:
'Loving' Farewell To Writer ~ Wife details family gathering with Thompson dead in chair

Part 1:

Hunter S. Thompson dead at 67

'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'


takes own life

Monday, February 21, 2005 Posted: 3:49 PM EST (2049 GMT)

Source: CNN.com

(CNN) -- Journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, who unleashed the concept of "gonzo journalism" in books like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself in the head Sunday at his home near Aspen, Colorado, police and his family said.

"On February 20, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colorado," said a statement issued by Thompson's son, Juan Thompson, to the Aspen Daily News.

"The family will shortly provide more information about memorial service and media contacts. Hunter prized his privacy, and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family."

A dispatcher for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Department confirmed Thompson's death.

Neither the family statement nor Pitkin County sheriff's officials said whether Thompson left a note, The Associated Press reported.

Thompson, 67, was associated with the "New Journalism" movement of the 1960s, in which writers -- most notably Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese -- took a more novelistic and personal approach to their subjects.

Thompson, who freely dropped cynical opinions and references to his drug and alcohol use into his stories, termed his style "gonzo journalism."

His account of a drug-fueled trip to cover a district attorneys' anti-drug conference as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine was the seed of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," perhaps his best-known work.

Subtitled "A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream," the 1971 book included his lament on the passing of the 1960s and its "sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil."

"There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs," he wrote. "We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

In "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," he described the campaign leading to Richard Nixon's re-election as president with terms like "brutal" and "depraved"; puckishly speculated that Sen. Ed Muskie -- the early Democratic front-runner, whose poor showing in the New Hampshire primary doomed his candidacy -- was under the influence of a psychoactive drug, Ibogaine; routinely mocked candidate and senator Hubert H. Humphrey ("the Hump"); and bemoaned Nixon's looming victory by proclaiming, "Jesus, where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to become president?"

CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton -- who covered the '72 campaign for CBS -- remembered Thompson as a bigger-than-life presence who wrote "good stuff."

"He'd perked the campaign plane or the campaign bus up a whole lot, he'd come out and say, had hey, weird stuff's going to happen, Hunter is here," Morton said on CNN's "American Morning." "He was also, it's fair to say, a very good writer. You read his stuff in Rolling Stone magazine, and maybe it wasn't what you've seen and maybe it wasn't what had happened, but by golly, it was good stuff and it was fun."

Morton also recalled the last time he heard from Thompson -- more than 30 years ago.

"The campaign was over, I think early 1973, and I got a phone call, saying the CIA has me, can you lend me 20 bucks," Morton said. "I said 20 bucks is no problem, but I don't think they'll let me in at Langley [Virginia, CIA headquarters].

"You just never knew with him. He was a free spirit and a gifted one."

Part 2:

Author Hunter S. Thompson at a rally at the Colorado Capitol in May of 2001.

Taking risks

Source: CNN.com

"There is no way to grasp what a shallow,
contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old
hack Hubert Humphrey is until you've
followed him around for a while."

~ Hunter S. Thompson, from
'Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72'

Thompson's other works included "The Great Shark Hunt," a collection of Watergate-era essays; "Generation of Swine," his lament on the youth of the 1980s; and his account of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential win, "Better than Sex."

His lone novel, "The Rum Diaries," was written in 1959 and published in 1998, while a collection of letters, "The Proud Highway: The Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman," came out in 1997.

Hunter Stockton Thompson was born July 18, 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky. He served in the Air Force and was a newspaper sports editor. In 1966, he published "Hell's Angels," a fairly straightforward chronicle about the motorcycle gang, which Thompson had followed around for a year.

In 1970, he ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado, on a Freak Power Party platform of decriminalizing drugs. He lost in a tight race.

The peak of his fame came in the 1970s, when he contributed stories to a number of magazines.

His most notable client was Rolling Stone, where the dispatches that became "Campaign Trail" originally appeared. His battles with Rolling Stone founder Jann S. Wenner were legendary; his stories occasionally arrived on odd media, such as rolls of teletype paper, and Thompson's expense accounts were often challenged by the magazine. (Examples of Thompson's Rolling Stone work have been on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.)

"He may have died relatively young but he made up for it in quality if not quantity of years," Paul Krassner, the veteran radical journalist and one of Thompson's former editors, told The Associated Press by phone from his Southern California home.

"It was hard to say sometimes whether he was being provocative for its own sake or if he was just being drunk and stoned and irresponsible," quipped Krassner, founder of the leftist publication The Realist and co-founder of the Youth International (YIPPIE) party.

"But every editor that I know, myself included, was willing to accept a certain prima donna journalism in the demands he would make to cover a particular story," he said. "They were willing to risk all of his irresponsible behavior in order to share his talent with their readers."

Part 3:

Friends try to get their heads around the loss of
Hunter S. Thompson, 67, who died Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005.
Louisa Davidson, the estranged wife of Pitkin County
Sheriff Bob Braudis, is seen here sitting on her sofa in her Basalt home
and talks about her grief about Hunter's violent end
and about the pain it is causing her friend Anita Thompson,
32, Hunter's widow.

'Shock and Dismay'

Source: CNN.com

"America's answer to the monstrous
Mr. Hyde. He speaks for the werewolf
in us."

~ Hunter S. Thompson on Richard M. Nixon

In recent years, Thompson wrote a column for the sports network ESPN's Web site. In his most recent piece, posted February 15, he describes shooting at golf balls like skeet with a friend near his longtime home -- he called it "a fortified compound" -- outside Aspen.

"The general reaction here is shock and dismay, because he was such a figure in town," Aspen resident John Hoag told CNN.

Still, Hoag said, Thompson remained a private person. "The most news we heard from him was when a pack of dogs killed his peacock, Attila, and he broke his leg in Hawaii last year."

Thompson also was the model for the character of "Uncle Duke" in the "Doonesbury" comic strip. But Thompson strongly disliked the characterization, once telling an interviewer that he would set "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau on fire if the two ever met.

In later years, however, Thompson said he had made peace with the "Uncle Duke" portrayal.

"I got used to it a long time ago," he told Freezerbox magazine in 2003. "I used to be a little perturbed by it. It was a lot more personal ... It no longer bothers me."

In 1980, actor Bill Murray portrayed Thompson in the film "Where the Buffalo Roam." And in 1998, the film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was released, based on Thompson's book and starring Johnny Depp as the journalist. A new film reportedly is in production based on Thompson's novel "The Rum Diaries."

The writer himself, Hoag said, will be missed. "There's no one in the world these days who writes the truth ... as he seems to, to me," he said. "He spoke to the world and said what people were afraid to say."

Hunter S. Thompson and his wife, Anita.

Part 4:

Hunter S. Thompson and his bride, Anita, in 2003.

'Loving' farewell to writer

Wife details family gathering

with Thompson dead in chair

Source: Rocky Mountain News: State

By Jeff Kass, 2005, Rocky Mountain News

February 25, 2005

ASPEN Hunter S. Thompson heard the ice clinking.

The literary champ was sitting in his command post kitchen chair, a piece of blank paper in his favorite typewriter, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot through the mouth hours earlier.

But a small circle of family and friends gathered around with stories, as he wished, with glasses full of his favored elixir Chivas Regal on ice.

"It was very loving. It was not a panic, or ugly, or freaky," Thompson's wife, Anita Thompson, said Thursday night in her first spoken comments since the icon's death Sunday. "It was just like Hunter wanted. He was in control here."

Anita Thompson also echoes the comments that have been made by Hunter Thompson's son and daughter-in-law: That her husband's suicide did not come from the bottom of the well, but was a gesture of strength and ultimate control made as his life was at a high-water mark.

"This is a triumph of his, not a desperate, tragic failure," Anita Thompson said by phone, recounting that she was sitting in her husband's chair he called his catbird seat in the Rockies.

She added: "He lived a beautiful life and he lived it on his own terms, all the way from the very beginning to the very end."

Anita Thompson, like her husband's other close relatives, understood how Hunter Thompson wanted to make his ultimate exit.

"I always knew that Hunter was going to die before me," Anita Thompson, 32, said of her 67-year-old husband. "I'd accepted that. I just did not know it was going to be like this. I would rather have him back."

Yet Anita Thompson quickly came to embrace Hunter Thompson's gesture with a .45-caliber handgun.

She was at the gym when her husband took his life. And when family friend and Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis confirmed the news, her mind raced. "I have enough will power," she thought. "I can turn back time. No, no, no. This is not right. This can't happen."

But upon seeing Hunter Thompson's body, she embraced him. "Since he'd done this, I did not want to make it difficult for his spirit," she said. "I wanted to make it loving."

Anita Thompson believes she will stay on at the expansive property and famous house that was an ever-changing archive of political, literary and name-your-category items. And she will continue to help administer Hunter Thompson's works.

"I'm going to keep on working for Hunter," she said. "He wanted this. He made sure that I was in place to continue on. I'll just do my job until I can be with him again."

She adds, citing the property's nickname: "It will remain Owl Farm. It will remain Hunter Thompson's Owl Farm."

The last book they had read out loud together was parts of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, a dense classic that explores the fragility of civilization by one of Hunter Thompson's favorite authors. Yet, said Anita Thompson, "He thinks Conrad is funny."

Thompson, center, with actors Benicio Del Toro, left,
and Johnny Depp, right, at the 1998 premiere of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

Anita Thompson and her husband had a small tiff that afternoon. Hunter Thompson told her to leave the kitchen that was known across the world as his funky and sacred work space. A weird look came across his face.

"I don't know why he wanted me to leave the room," she said. "It's all speculation. He'd never asked me to leave the room before."

But Anita Thompson did not go to the office with Hunter Thompson's son, as he had requested. Instead, she left the house. "I'm going to get my gym bag. I'm going," she recalled. "He said, 'I don't want you to leave the house.'"

But she went to the gym. At 5:16 p.m., according to her cell-phone display, she called and spoke with Hunter Thompson for 10 minutes and 22 seconds.

Hunter Thompson put almost everyone on speakerphone. But he picked up the handset to speak with his wife.

"I knew it was odd, first of all, that he picked up with the handset ... I thought, 'That's sweet,'" she said.

The talk was good.

"He said, 'I want you to come home after you work out. Come home and we'll work on a column,'" she recalled.

The conversation, however, never really ended. Before formal goodbyes, Anita Thompson heard a clicking sound. She thought Hunter Thompson might have put down the handset and was typing. Or maybe it was the television. She waited. Maybe a minute passed.

"He did not say anything about killing himself," she said.

The official time of death is 5:42 p.m.

But did Hunter Thompson shoot himself while on the phone with his wife?

"I did not hear any bang," she says, noting that Hunter Thompson's son, who was in the house at the time, believed that a book had fallen when he heard the shot.

Anita Thompson can imagine what was going through Hunter Thompson's mind before the fatal shot: My beloved son, grandson and daughter-in-law are here. I'm in my perch. The fireplace has fire.

"I don't know if it mattered if I was here," Anita Thompson says. "I just like to think, and believe in my heart, he felt happy in his life."

A woman at the gym saw Anita Thompson in the bathroom. She asked if Hunter Thompson was OK. Anita Thompson pretty much blew it off. Rumors about Hunter Thompson were always in the air. Anita Thompson replied, "Oh yeah," but added, "he's been pretty stressed out lately."

A strange look was on the woman's face. She told Anita Thompson to check her phone messages. The woman said she would stay at her side.

Now she was shaking, and could barely dial.

There was a message from Juan Thompson, Hunter's son. "Anita, you have to come home now, he's dead."

Anita Thompson then spoke to the sheriff on the phone.

Had Hunter Thompson intended for his wife of two years to be in the house?

"I don't know, and it's not that important," Anita Thompson says. "I know he loved me. There's no question ... I know he did not want me to find him alone. He knew I was opposed to it."

After wading through the police officers outside, Anita Thompson recalls seeing her husband's dead body for the first time. "He was sitting in the chair when they brought me in, and I got to hug him and kiss him and rub his legs," she said. "All the anger was gone when I saw him."

Anita Thompson does not know why Hunter Thompson chose the .45 from his vast collection of guns. But he was deft with his death. "He did not destroy his face," Anita Thompson says. "He did it in his mouth. His face was beautiful. It was quick. It was not grisly or gruesome by any means. That's probably why he took that gun. He spared us a gruesome scene."

She adds: "His face did look calm and peaceful. He looked content. Like he wanted it."

For Tuesday's cremation, Anita Thompson dressed her husband. He was wearing a light blue, seersucker suit, a Tilly hat and his reading glasses, which he had on when he died. He had asked her to include a lock of her hair with him on this occasion. She complied, and more, cutting off her one-foot long blonde ponytail.

Anita Thompson is depending on mundane chores, but also family, friends and the estimated 50 messages a day.

"Being alone with Hunter in our bedroom, and I've been reading his letters to me," she added. "They have a different charge now. He wrote the most beautiful love letters I have ever seen ... I'm so lucky."

Then there was the flag. Hunter Thompson is an Air Force veteran. And following protocol, according to Anita Thompson, a deputy coroner from neighboring Garfield County presented her with a U.S. flag. It now hangs on a storyboard in the kitchen area, normally used for Hunter Thompson's works in progress. A white, silk scarf that the Dalai Lama presented to Hunter Thompson the two men looked alike drapes over the flag.

The house is filled to the brim with flowers especially orchids, Hunter Thompson's favorite.

"It's nice in here," says Anita Thompson. "He would like it. He does like it, I guess."

Yes, Anita Thompson says, the landmark writer is nearby. "Mainly in moments when you're quiet, you can feel him; it's a different energy than when he was in his body," she says. "It's in the chest. It's all encompassing, but just for a second. It's beautiful."

Hunter Thompson was huge on swimming for his exercise. But he was also known for his love of fine whiskey, and to put it far too mildly, for experimenting with most every intoxicant known to man.

"He loved his body, look what he did to it," Anita Thompson jokes. She then adds a line that maybe even she fails, on its face, to grasp the significance of: "He gave his body everything it wanted."

"We are all wired into a survival
trip now. No more of the speed
that fueled the 60's. That was
the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip.
He crashed around America selling
"consciousness expansion" without
ever giving a thought to the grim
meat-hook realities that were lying
in wait for all those people who took
him seriously...

All those pathetically eager acid
freaks who thought they could buy
Peace and Understanding for three
bucks a hit. But their loss and
failure is ours too. What Leary
took down with him was the central
illusion of a whole life-style that
he helped create...

... a generation of permanent
cripples, failed seekers, who never
understood the essential old-mystic
fallacy of the Acid Culture: the
desperate assumption that somebody...
or at least some force -- is
tending the light at the end of the
~ Hunter S. Thompson "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas"

You will be sorely missed Hunter. I hope you find what it is you are looking for.
With much love and respect: Corey "Core" Grundstein