Hunter S. Thompson Commits Suicide

Counter-Culture Author Of "Fear And Loathing" Dies In Woody Creek Home

Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counter-culture author of books such as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself Sunday at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67.

Thompson "took his life with a gunshot to the head," Thompson's son, Juan, and wife said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News. The statement asked for privacy for Thompson's family and added, "He stomped terra."

Hunter S. Thompson was known for his "gonzo" style of journalism.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a personal friend of Thompson, said he was found dead at 6 p.m. of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Juan found his father's body. Thompson's wife, Anita, was not home at the time. Hunter and Anita were married in 2003 in Aspen.

Besides the 1972 classic about Thompson's visit to Las Vegas, he also wrote "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72." The central character in those wild, sprawling satires was "Dr. Thompson," a snarling, drug- and alcohol-crazed observer and participant.

Thompson is credited alongside Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese with helping pioneer New Journalism -- or, as he dubbed his version, "gonzo journalism" -- in which the writer made himself an essential component of the story.

Thompson, whose early writings mostly appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, often portrayed himself as wildly intoxicated as he reported on such figures as Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

"Fiction is based on reality unless you're a fairy-tale artist," Thompson told The Associated Press in 2003. "You have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you're writing about before you alter it."

Thompson also wrote such collections as "Generation of Swine" and "Songs of the Doomed." His first ever novel, "The Rum Diary," written in 1959, was first published in 1998.

Thompson was a counterculture icon at the height of the Watergate era, and once said Nixon represented "that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character."

Thompson also was the model for Gary Trudeau's balding "Uncle Duke," named after Raoul Duke, a character in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." He was portrayed on screen by Bill Murray in "Where The Buffalo Roam" and Johnny Depp in a film adaptation of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

That book, perhaps Thompson's most famous, begins: "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

Other books include "The Great Shark Hunt," "Hell's Angels" and "The Proud Highway." His most recent effort was "Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness."

"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."

Hunter lived at his Woody Creek compound, about 10 miles outside Aspen. His home, Owl Farm, is a rustic ranch that borders the White River National Forest.

He prized peacocks and weapons; in 2000, he accidentally shot and slightly wounded his assistant, Deborah Fuller, trying to chase a bear off his property.

Thompson is survived by his wife, Anita Thompson, son Juan of Denver, daughter-in-law Jennifer and grandson William.


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