Known for his epic novel "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", the founder of "gonzo journalism" lived a dramatic life filled with drugs, booze, and forays into politics
Hunter S Thompson is one of the most renowned writers of all time. From riding with the Hell’s Angels, and writing for tonnes of publications, most notably Rolling Stone Magazine, he is (somewhat) an inspiration for all writers wanting to break into journalism!
In countries outside of the US, however, not everyone knows who Hunter S Thompson is! Sure, across America he is considered a superstar, but here in the UK his work is certainly less recognised.
For those who don’t know, Hunter is the father of Gonzo journalism. What is Gonzo journalism, you ask? Well, essentially, Gonzo Journalism is written without objectivity, and includes the author in first person moving the narrative along. At the time, this kind of writing was unheard of, but Thompson was able to use it to bring the world along on his crazy journeys, changing the world of writing and journalism as we know it.
Here, we delve into some of the craziest things Thompson did, and some of the things you might not know he did.
To improve his writing, he typed out famous books
Becoming one of the world’s most renowned writers comes with great practice, and one of the ways Hunter S Thompson achieved this, was by copying out his favourite books. He would type out F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms diligently, word for word. In Thompson’s own words, this allowed him to “get a feel” of how it was to “write like the masters”. There was clearly a method to his madness, as he is too, now regarded as one of the masters of the craft.
Thompson had a very hectic daily routine
Hunter S Thompson at a debate with Sheriff Carol D. Whitmire (left), his opponent for Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado
Any fan of Thompson’s will know that he had one of the most ludicrous daily routines ever. Usually, daily routines may consist of some form of exercise, a healthy breakfast and maybe even a nap, but the great Hunter S Thompson would never conform to such rubbish!
He would rise at 3pm, five minutes later have a glass of whiskey and a cigarette whilst he read the papers and 40 minutes later would take a line of cocaine. The cigarettes, coffee and cocaine would be staggered throughout his day until precisely 7:05pm, where he would venture to the Woody Creek Tavern, where he would consume a heavy meal consisting of beer, margaritas and fried goods.
After he was finished there, he would head home, “start snorting cocaine seriously”, drop some acid and write from 12:05am all the way through to 6am, when he would have some food, ready to sleep at 8:20 am through until 3pm.
"He would head home, “start snorting cocaine seriously”, drop some acid and write from 12:05am all the way through to 6am"
He had an extremely unique funeral
Thompson had some very famous friends, including the likes of Bill Murray and Jack Nicholson, however one of his absolute closest friends was the great Johnny Depp. They had an incredible friendship, making bombs together upon their first meeting and Depp even portrayed Thompson in the brilliant adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
After Thompson’s death, Depp took on the responsibility of arranging Thompson’s funeral. Hunter had disclosed to Depp that he wanted be shot out of a cannon, and so Johnny saw it done! At his funeral, Hunter’s ashes were placed in a cannon, that was sat atop a 153-foot tower and he was fired into the stratosphere! Rumour has it, the final event set Johnny Depp back a staggering $5 million! Not even a dent for an actor of his stature… right?
Thompson rode and lived with the notorious Hell’s Angels for two years
One of the reasons that Hunter S Thompson is so prolific, is due to his crazy behaviour. From leaving Jack Nicholson fearing for his life to fighting for survival in a tropical storm, his life was certainly not short of excitement!
In 1966, Hunter started living with the Hell’s Angels, the notorious biker gang. He followed them around while they caused havoc in towns and even came to be friends with some of them. At the end of his time with the Angels, however, luck was not on his side. In a TV interview Thompson revealed how he intervened on Angel Junkie George “beating his wife to a pulp on the rocks”. His dog bit him and he proceeded to beat the dog also. When Hunter told him that “only a punk beats his wife and his dog,” a savage beating followed, leaving Thompson very close to death and hospitalised.
"When Hunter told him that “only a punk beats his wife and his dog,” a savage beating followed, leaving Thompson very close to death and hospitalised"
Hunter became overshadowed by his experiences
Near the time of his death, Hunter’s life had become somewhat unbearable. His back pain was extreme, he required a wheelchair, it seemed that the whole essence of what he was had finally broke him. On February 20 2005, the great Hunter S Thompson put a .45 caliber gun in his mouth and killed himself.
It became clear to Hunter that there was no other option, and his suicide note read:
“No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always b****y. No Fun—for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax—This won’t hurt.”
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