How Hunter S. Thompson Became a Legend

“In January 1970, Hunter S. Thompson wrote Jann S. Wenner a letter praising Rolling Stone‘s definitive coverage of the disastrous Altamont festival. ‘[Print’s] a hell of a good medium by any standard, from Hemingway to the Airplane,’ Thompson wrote. ‘Don’t fuck it up with pompous bullshit; the demise of RS would leave a nasty hole.’ A bond was formed, and over the next 30 years, Thompson would do much to redefine journalism in the pages of the magazine. He lived and wrote on the edge in a style that would come to be called Gonzo journalism. That term captured his lifestyle, but it didn’t really do justice to Thompson’s command of language, his fearless reporting or his fearsome intellect. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, served in the Air Force, and worked as a journalist in Puerto Rico before moving to San Francisco, where an article about the Hells Angels turned into a book project. He spent almost two years riding with the outlaw motorcycle gang, and in 1966 he published a bestseller that took readers deep inside a subculture largely inaccessible to the outside world. In that sense, Thompson and Rolling Stone were kindred spirits. After he wrote to the magazine, Wenner invited him to the office to discuss a piece that would be called ‘The Battle of Aspen,’ about Thompson’s effort to bring ‘freak power’ to the Rockies. Thompson had tried to get Joe Edwards, a 29-year-old pot-smoking lawyer, elected mayor; Thompson himself was running for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado. ‘He stood six-three,’ Wenner remembered years later, ‘shaved bald, dark glasses, smoking, carrying two six-packs of beer; he sat down, slowly unpacked a leather satchel full of travel necessities onto my desk – mainly hardware, flashlights, a siren, boxes of cigarettes, flares – and didn’t leave for three hours. By the end, I was suddenly deep into his campaign.’ Thompson and Edwards lost their bids by slim margins, but Thompson’s fate as a self-described ‘political junkie’ was sealed. A year later, Thompson sent Rolling Stone the first section of a new piece he was working on. … ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘ became Thompson’s defining piece, and a defining literary experience for generations of readers. It had begun as an assignment from Sports Illustrated when Thompson was asked to go to Las Vegas to write a 250-word photo caption on a motorcycle race, the Mint 400. …”
Rolling Stone
YouTube: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride (Documentary) 1:17:31

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This entry was posted in Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, LSD, Marijuana and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How Hunter S. Thompson Became a Legend

  1. Leon Horton says:

    Splendid piece. Really enjoyed it


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