On the 5th Anniversary of the Death of Hunter S. Thompson

On February 20, 2005, Hunter S. Thompson shot himself and ended thirty-five years of Gonzo journalism. There never was another Gonzo journalist and there never will be. It was a one man genre. And likewise, there will never be another HST. He was utterly unique. In fact, “unique” is perhaps too weak a word… He was a freak, an atavistic freak.

His literary influences were numerous, yet he was always an original. Thompson grew up worshipping Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and yet ended up being something totally different – Gonzo. He lived in weird times, and his style of writing develop in response to his surroundings – living through the 1950s, 60s & 70s; a turbulent era to say the least.

Most people know him from his work over only a short period of time. The development and maturation of Gonzo, from “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” to Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72. Yet to fully respect the man one must look back further, beyond HST as a drug-fiend, to HST as a dedicated, scrupulous journalist. Prior to his Hell’s Angels fame, Thompson worked as hard as anyone in the game, and while that effort appeared later, it never fully reappeared.

Fame changed Hunter S. Thompson. Drugs changed him, too. Some say he created a caricature and felt compelled to live up to it… and that he became trapped in himself. Reading The Proud Highway drives home just how different Thompson was in his later years. He was not perfect. He came to feel later in life that he’d never reached his potential, and that his work was not respected as serious literary work.

So on this anniversary of his death, let’s celebrate his life and work not by wearing bright shirts, floppy hats and cigarette holders, or by getting messed up and speaking like Johnny Depp… Let’s remember Hunter S. Thompson as a serious writer; an important journalist who earned his place in history through hard work and devotion to the truth.

Related posts:

Modern Beat: The Internet and Literary Communities
A look at the role of the internet in fostering new literary communities, by David S. Will...
Kitty Bruce Talks To Beatdom About Lenny Bruce and Religion
In November, Kitty Bruce, daughter and only survivor of  comedy icon/legend Lenny Bruce, w...
Hell’s Angels: The Precursor of Gonzo
*The following is the first in a series of columns by Beatdom editor, David S. Wills, conc...
Updates on Beatdom #15 and Beatdom Books
As we move into the latter half of May, only eleven days from the deadline for Beatdom #15...
Call for Submissions: Beatdom #17
A few weeks ago we asked our readers for advice on the topic for Beatdom #17. Today, we ar...
Famous Writers Who Didn’t Like Kerouac
Jack Kerouac was a huge inspiration for Bob Dylan, the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for ...

David S. Wills

Posts Twitter Facebook

David S. Wills is the founder and editor of Beatdom literary journal and the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs the Weird Cult.He travels a lot and currently lectures in China. He also runs an ESL website. You can read more about and by David at his blog, www.davidswills.com or on Tumblr.

No Comments

Be the first to start the conversation.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*