Pioneering ‘Gonzo’ journalist dies at 67: Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005

By By Eryn Green and Foster Kamer

By Eryn Green and Foster Kamer

Hunter S. Thompson was a genuine innovator in the field of journalism over the past 30 years, and his no-holds-barred style of reporting forever changed the way modern journalists approach a story.

As a writer, Thompson was fundamentally concerned with delving into the underbelly of issues, placing himself within the context of his stories so that he could personally verify and explore deeper, more personal concerns. His work on President Nixon’s campaign trail was pioneering in its thoroughness and scope, as Thompson single-handedly covered every step of Nixon’s 1972 campaign. His work on the iconic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” took journalism into new territory with its exploration of previously taboo cultural folkways and tendencies, ultimately making “Fear and Loathing” into a cultural staple for millions of readers worldwide. The cinematic adaptation of the book was a huge success, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro, proving the generational staying power of Thompson’s efforts.

Though many of Thompson’s critics said that he was too wild and subjective in his work, Thompson’s personality and brand of “Gonzo” journalism were first and foremost tools used to substantiate and add personal validity to the author’s claims.

In addition to being an influential writer and journalist, Thompson was also a highly controversial political force. He ran for public office in his home of Colorado and was an outspoken critic of 21st-century politics throughout his life. Recently, Thompson had garnered attention as a passionate critic of President Bush’s foreign and domestic policies, and what he saw as moving toward restricting civil liberties and personal freedom.

Tragically, Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Woody Creek, Colo., Sunday night. Thompson was 67 years old. Thompson’s son, Juan, discovered his body late Sunday evening.

Thompson is survived by his wife, Anita Thompson, 32, his son, Juan, a daughter-in-law and a grandson. Together, Juan and Anita Thompson issued the following statement to the Aspen Daily News:

“On Feb. 20, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colo. The family will provide more information about memorial service and media contacts shortly. Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family.”

Thompson’s fearless brand of journalism found a home in publications like Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com’s Page 2, as well as in the hearts of writers, journalists and self-proclaimed “freaks” everywhere. Thompson will be greatly missed.

[email protected]

[email protected]