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Gonzo Journalism Creator Hunter S. Thompson Dies

Gonzo Journalism Creator Hunter S. Thompson Dies

By Selwyn Manning

Hunter Stockton Thompson, the journalist who coined the term "gonzo journalism" and wrote the 1972 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, has committed suicide at his Woody Creek home.


Hunter S. Thompson was 67 years of age.

A local county sheriff said Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head. Thompson's son, Juan, discovered his body yesterday evening.

Thompson's work with Time magazine and Rolling Stone magazine pioneered a candid first-person style that was personified in the book Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. The book was made into a 1998 movie and starred Jonnie Depp in the lead role as Hunter S. Thompson.

Thompson's experiences were often fueled by drugs and alcohol and ventured into the bizarre.

His reports on the Hell's Angels and other underground or outlawed sub-groups was legendary.

In later years, Thompson was known to threaten trespassers on his property, waving firearms about to ensure his reclusive lifestyle was observed.

On July 18, 1939, Gonzo journalism founder Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky. His father was an insurance agent, and Thompson grew up in a comfortable, affluent home. In high school, he was accepted into a prestigious club called the Athenaeum Literary Association along with all the other wealthy and socially elite young people of Louisville.

But around the same time, Thompson's father got sick and died from a rare immune disorder. His mother had to take a job as a librarian to support the family, and Thompson suddenly became the poor member of his group of friends, the only one who couldn't afford to go to an Ivy League school.

He rebelled against the club and became famous for his outrageous pranks. He flooded the first floor of his high school with three inches of water during an assembly and once dumped a truckload of pumpkins in front of a downtown hotel.

Thompson began publishing a series of bitterly sarcastic essays for the literary association's newsletter, including one called, "Open Letter to the Youth of Our Nation," signed "John J. Righteous-Hypocrite."

He wrote, "Young people of America, awake from your slumber of indolence and harken to the call of the future. Do you realize you are rapidly becoming a doomed generation?"

Thompson studied journalism while enlisted in the United States Air Force. He began his career at the Eglin Air Force Base newsletter and worked as a sports-journalist for a local civilian paper.

Later Thompson worked for Time magazine, the New York Herald Tribune, the National Observer, The Nation, and Rolling Stone magazine.

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