Hunter S. Thompson: Fascinating Facts About the Godfather of Gonzo Journalism
The legacy of famed writer Hunter S. Thompson is accompanied by bizarre tales, profound quirks — and some of the greatest literary material in history. Although he was a trailblazer, Thompson is remembered for much more than his revolutionary approach to journalism.
Other journalists remarked on the "gonzo" life he led, from his strange pets to his chaotic relationships to his fascinating ascension into his field-altering career. The phrase "gonzo journalism" was coined to describe his unique way of reporting. Check out these other intriguing facts about the "Godfather of Gonzo Journalism," Hunter S. Thompson.
He Copied Famous Novels...Literally
Hunter S. Thompson has gone down in history as a literary genius for good reason. He learned how to write by emulating the greats. How did he pull this off? He literally copied down the works of his favorite writers to learn how to properly craft a book.
He Was in Jail During His High School Graduation
Plenty of people blow off their high school graduation ceremonies, yet Thompson didn't attend the event for a unique reason: He was in jail. During his senior year, he was found guilty of being an accessory to robbery and sentenced to two months in jail, which conflicted with the date of his high school graduation.
He Was an Extremely Inventive Child
Before he was one of the great writers of the 20th century, Thompson was an inventor! Okay, the title may be a stretch, but he certainly had some inventive concepts rattling around in his head as a child. One even led him to produce a unique mode of transportation.
He Almost Drowned in a Riptide
Throughout his journalistic career, Thompson was frequently called to report on political events. When he was on assignment in Miami for the Democratic National Convention in 1972, he had downtime one evening and decided to take a break from his work and enjoy a swim.
He Had His Ashes Shot from a Cannon
When Thompson tragically took his own life in February of 2005, he left behind explicit instructions about how to make his funeral pop — specifically in terms of handling his ashes. Rather than sticking them in an urn on a mantel, Thompson had an unconventional request about what to do with his remains.
He Spent Millions on Illegal Substances
According to those close to Thompson, the writer's life and career was plagued by drug addiction. He was a connoisseur of illegal substances and often wrote multi-million dollar checks to cover his bills for substances that helped him stay awake to write.
He Stole from Ernest Hemingway
In 1964, Thompson was called for an assignment by the National Observer to visit the late Ernest Hemingway's 久游棋牌. While writing the piece "What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?", Thompson apparently became overenthusiastic about being in the 久游棋牌 of a literary great — so he stole the antlers above Hemingway's front door!
He Scored an Unusual Interview with Keith Richards
Back in 1993, Rolling Stones member Keith Richards was slated for an interview with ABC. However, he had a meltdown shortly before the interview and demanded more money for his appearance. No one could get him to leave his dressing room, so ABC turned to Thompson for assistance.
He Ran for Sheriff in Colorado
Thompson is known for his exceptional writing career, but do you know about his political career? Back in 1970, he took it upon himself to run for the position of sheriff in Pitkin County, Colorado. Running on the "Freak Power" ticket, he used satire (obviously) to draw attention to the problems with local politics.
He Became a Mail-Order Doctor
Despite never participating in a doctoral program, Hunter Thompson boldly assumed the title of Dr. Thompson back in 1974. What inspired this new name? He supposedly ordered a doctorate in divinity through the mail, making him insist he was qualified to claim the title.
He Was Best Buds with Johnny Depp
Thompson and Depp had a close working relationship, and they quickly became besties. Depp starred in several films based on Thompson's books, including his leading role in the movie version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The two kept in close correspondence between filming and developed a lasting friendship.
He Was a Major Civil Rights Activist
Although he gained traction in the morally questionable world of journalism, his heart was rooted in civil rights activism. He often used his position of power to call out injustices that he saw within the infrastructure of the government, society and the economy.
He Owned a Zoo of Pets
Thompson was an avid animal enthusiast. He didn't stick with adopting a cat, dog or goldfish when it came to picking his house pets. Throughout his globetrotting career, he acquired a menagerie of creatures that most people could only see if they went to the zoo.
He Pulled a Terrifying Prank on Jack Nicholson
All of Thompson's friends knew he had a dark sense of humor. His twisted jokes often came at the expense of the peace of mind of his pals, including Jack Nicholson. On Nicholson's birthday, Thompson drove to his 久游棋牌, fired a gun and played horrific animal noises at full blast.
He Had Dogs Who Persistently Dug for Buried Treasure
Thompson preferred to deal with his surplus of cash the old fashioned way — by burying it in the ground. On his farm in Aspen, Colorado, he packed gold Krugerrand coins into ammunition canisters and buried them throughout his yard, determined to keep his pension fund safe from prying hands.
He Caused a Major Explosion
What does a bored genius do in his spare time? Produce explosions, of course. Once, Thompson and his pals were waiting on a friend who was running late to hang out with them. Suddenly, they got the brilliant idea to fill a tractor tire with flammable gas for fun. Unfortunately, the plan (literally) blew up in their faces.
He Lived with the Hell's Angels Biker Gang
If there was one thing that Thompson took seriously, it was book research. When he began to prepare for writing Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, Thompson saw only one reasonable route to becoming informed about the gang — joining them.
He Was Stranded in Saigon
Although Thompson contributed a plethora of pieces to Rolling Stone early in his career, the magazine and the writer had a falling out in 1976. What was the root of their feud? The magazine left him stranded in war-torn South Vietnam. You read that right — they hung him out to dry in Saigon.
He Almost Killed Bill Murray
In addition to Johnny Depp, one of Thompson's other best buddies was Bill Murray. They bonded over the fact that they both had childish spirits and loved to pull pranks. The two celebrities got themselves into trouble with their jokes at times, and it nearly cost Murray his life in the 1980s.
He Nearly Blew Up Johnny Depp with Dynamite
From exploding a tire to nearly drowning an actor, Thompson doesn't have the greatest track record for safety. The writer often treated the macabre and traumatic as completely normal, finding danger to be interesting rather than upsetting. While living with Thompson, Johnny Depp nearly lost his life to the writer's recklessness.
He Founded a Journalistic Movement
For all Thompson's journalistic accomplishments, one of the most significant was his formation of a new style of writing dubbed "gonzo journalism." Through his witty, satirical, self-centric reporting, Thompson brought the new form of critique to life. What exactly does gonzo journalism entail?
He Invented a Bizarre New Sport
It's no secret that Thompson — a lifelong member of the NRA — was a firearms enthusiast. Near the end of his career, he decided to mash his love of firearms with his skillful sports reporting. He ended up detailing the design for a new game for ESPN's magazine: shotgun golf.
He Clashed with His Neighbors — Intensely
If you think you have had some bad neighbors, try living next door to someone like Hunter S. Thompson. After moving onto his farm, he made several requests of the local council, including paving the dirt roads so his 久游棋牌 wouldn't get dirty. When they refused, he sought revenge on those who resisted his envisioned changes, including his neighbors.
He Skipped the Fight of the Century to Pygmy Hunt
In 1974, Rolling Stone magazine paid for him to travel to Zaire to report on the legendary fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. When he arrived, he promptly gave away his pricey tickets and set off into the forest to search for pygmies, Nazis and ivory.
He Saved Rolling Stone Magazine
While it's difficult to imagine the publishing world without Rolling Stone, there was a point when the publication almost went under. During the early 1970s, the approach of the magazine began to wane in popularity, causing its sales to suffer. Fortunately, they came across the witty, widely-loved writing of Thompson just in time to save their skin.
He Wasn't Nixon's Biggest Fan
Of all the critics of Nixon's presidency, Thompson may have been at the top of the list. He frequently jabbed at the president’s ability to lead the country using vulgar and hyper-critical statements. His outspoken hatred was so brutal that Nixon banned Thompson from visiting the White House.
He Almost Killed His Assistant
When a black bear began to impose on his farmland, Thompson attempted to drive the creature away by firing his shotgun at the animal. Unfortunately, one of his shots accidentally hit his assistant, Deborah Fuller. Of the incident, Thompson shared: "It embarrassed me, and it ruined my safety record."
He Landed His First Writing Gig in the Military
In his youth, in order to avoid jail time for robbery, Thompson joined the United States Air Force. Although he pursued an interest in studying electronics during his enlistment, he ultimately turned his attention to a career in writing at Eglin Air Force Base, where he worked as a sports journalist for The Command Courier.
He Is Named After Scotland's Most Famous Surgeon
While Hunter S. Thompson may be the most famous member of his family, he wasn't necessarily the most accomplished. He was named after an ancestor on his mother's side, Nigel John Hunter, who was a renowned surgeon in Scotland. In fact, he was somewhat of a medical rock star.
He Has a Son Who Dabbles in Writing
He may not have quite as prolific a career as his father, but Thompson's son, Juan Fitzgerald Thompson, has also tried his hand at writing. Back in 2016, he published a book showcasing the personality, values, hilarity and career of his father entitled Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson.