Hunter S. Thompson, the author who pioneered “gonzo” journalism and became an anti-establishment icon with his 1972 book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” fatally shot himself at his home outside Aspen, Colorado, Sunday night, police said. He was 67.
In a statement released to the Aspen Daily News, Thompson’s son, Juan, confirmed that the writer had taken his own life.
“On February 20, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colorado. The family will provide more information … shortly,” the statement read. “Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family.”
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” — Thompson’s most famous work — detailed the drug-and-alcohol-fueled journey his alter-ego (Raoul Duke) and a Samoan attorney undertook while in Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race. The book’s biting wit and stream-of-consciousness ramblings — later termed “gonzo journalism” (a phrase coined by Thompson friend and associate Bill Cardoso) because of the reckless abandon with which the author threw himself into the story — made him a counter-culture celebrity in the ’70s, and his style was introduced to another generation of fans in 1998, when “Fear and Loathing” hit the big screen, starring Johnny Depp as Duke. Bill Murray had tackled Thompson’s life and work 18 years earlier in the 1980 flick “Where the Buffalo Roam,” based on a collection of the author’s work, and Thompson even served as the inspiration for the character of “Duke” in Gary Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” comic strip.
Thompson’s other works include “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72,” a collection of articles he’d written for Rolling Stone magazine while covering Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972; and “Hell’s Angels,” his book chronicling the year he spent with the notorious California motorcycle gang.
He is survived by his wife, Anita Thompson, son Juan, daughter-in-law Jennifer and grandson William.