Categories: Beatdom Content

Hunter S. Thompson’s Ten Best Albums of the 1960s

I’ve been busy working on an essay for Beatdom #7, titled, “Hunter S. Thompson and the Music of the 1960s.”

Anyone who knows anything about HST knows that’s a pretty broad topic, with plenty of material to study. HST was a music fiend. He once said, “I’ve been arguing for years now that music is the New Literature, that Dylan is the 1960s’ answer to Hemingway.”

My research brought me across a 1970 letter that he wrote to Rolling Stone editor John Lombardi, that contains “Raoul Duke’s” ten best albums of the 1960s…

1)     Herbie Mann’s 1969 Memphis Underground

2)     Bob Dylan’s 1965 Bringing It All Back Home (especially noted as “Mr. Tambourine Man” in his letter)

3)     Dylan’s 1965 Highway 61 Revisited

4)     The Grateful Dead’s 1970 Workingman’s Dead

5)     The Rolling Stones’ 1969 Let it Bleed

6)     Buffalo Springfield’s 1967 Buffalo Springfield

7)     Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 Surrealistic Pillow

8)     Roland Kirk’s “various albums”

9)     Miles Davis’s 1959 Sketches of Spain

10)  Sandy Bull’s 1965 Inventions

David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the founder and editor of Beatdom literary journal and the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs the Weird Cult and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. His next book, High White Notes: The Rise and Fall of Gonzo Journalism comes out in November, 2021.

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  • Of the 60s....

    That was a weird time (of which I only remember the second half) and that is a half weird list. It includes artists that represent the hippie thing he often... ahem... "beat" down...

    Still..a man without contradictions is a retard...

    60s music was a kind of promise that could never be kept and no one expressed it better than Hunter in Vegas, in the passage in which he talked about looking at the Rockies (???) and seeing where that wave crested...

    • Oh yes, his favourite passage. He liked visitors to read it to him throughout his later years.

      There's a great passage at the start of Fear and Loathing in America, where he talks about the music of the sixties. He keeps referring, throughout his letters, to music being "the New Literature." He jokes about learning to play the flute because writing is dead. Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, he claimed, spoke more intelligently than any writer since Hemingway.

  • At least six of these would be in my top 30, at least. Let it Bleed is one of my top 3.

    Then again I discovered a lot of the music I love through HST. The Grateful Dead particularly.

    • I'm not sure if I've discovered any music through HST, but he does make stuff cooler. His writing very much compliments the music of his era.

      • It was mostly the whole 60s counterculture thing... discovered through HST and thus the music. The Grateful Dead though I checked out specifically because he mentioned them a few times in F&L on The Campaign Trail '72.

        love how two of the albums aren't 60s at all...

  • He was trapped ultimately by everything Gonzo. I like Hunter, saw and was a part of the swirl on my coast, at the Fillmore East, Electric Circus, and more. The Airplane was his 'Starship' for awhile. Who knew that a a few yrs later 1975 they would all sell out or dry up. The Airplane were doing Miracles a song for middle aged I guess former hip pies to do their dishes to in their upscale pre yuppie lifestyles they settled into after the Revolution. Want more? Create it.

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