Monday, February 21, 2005
I was of course going to write all about Eric's spectacular experience playing drums at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Florida this weekend but I'm sitting here feeling very shocked and sad right now and unable to think straight.
'GONZO' JOURNALIST HUNTER S. THOMPSON DIES
Legendary US author Hunter S Thompson, a sharp-witted icon of the 1960s counter-culture, has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police say.
The 67-year-old writer and journalist, best known for his 1972 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, apparently shot himself at his home at Woody Creek, outside the ski resort of Aspen in the western US state of Colorado.
Thompson's son, Juan, released a family statement to the Aspen Daily News, saying: "Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family."
Thompson was considered by many to be one of the most important American authors of the 20th century.
The ever-rebellious Thompson was born in the southern state of Kentucky in July 1937 and frequently got into trouble with the law in his early years for drinking and vandalism, spending 60 days in jail on one occasion.
He was enlisted in the US Air Force in 1956 and managed to get assigned as a sports writer for the air base newspaper at Eglin Air Proving Ground in Florida.
But the unsettled youngster quickly became dissatisfied with the rigours of military routine and his high-jinks led to an honorable discharge after only a year in 1957.
He spent several years in Puerto Rico and South America working for various newspapers, mostly as a sports reporter.
In 1963, Thompson wed Sandy Conklin, a union that would last 18 years and produce one child, Juan. He also moved to Woody Creek, where he would spend most of the rest of his life.
Almost always writing in the first person, Thompson flirted with the border between fiction and fact and threw out any attempt at objectivity. His style became known as 'gonzo' journalism and made him a cult figure.
He shot to fame in 1966 after the publication of his book Hell's Angels, the story of his relationship with the then-feared motorcycle gang.
Thompson made his drug and alcohol-fueled antics and clashes with authority the central theme of his work, challenging the conventions of traditional journalism and creating a larger-than-life outlaw persona for himself along the way.
The book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the apocryphal tale of a wild, drug-fuelled weekend spent in the desert gambling hub of Las Vegas by the protagonist Raoul Duke, a thinly disguised version of Thompson.
Thompson claimed at the time that the book and its tales of LSD use were accurate examples of gonzo journalism but later admitted that some of the events in it never took place.
But the stories of his heady experiences earned him a popular reputation as a wild-living, hard-drinking, LSD-crazed writer bent on self-destruction.
The book became the basis for a 1998 Hollywood adaptation, starring Johnny Depp as Thompson's alter-ego, Raoul Duke.
In 1970, Thompson ran for the office of Sheriff in Pitkin, Colorado, campaigning on the "Freak Power" ticket. He lost by a handful of votes.
His other works include Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, a collection articles he wrote for Rolling Stone magazine while covering the election campaign of then-president Richard M Nixon.
Thompson became such an icon that cartoonist Garry Trudeau based the wild character of Duke in his "Doonesbury" comic strip on him.
Thompson is survived to his second wife, Anita Beymunk, whom he married two years ago, his son Juan and a grandson.