Hunter Stockton Thompson, the renegade writer who stretched the boundaries of journalism, committed suicide on Feb. 20 at the age of 67. He died at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colo., of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Born in Louisville, Ky., Thompson finished high school, but missed the graduation ceremony because he was in jail serving a 60-day sentence for robbery. When he got out, Thompson enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and discovered a passion for journalism. He edited the sports section at an Air Force newspaper in Florida, then worked as a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and the National Observer.
In the 1970s, Thompson helped pioneer the “New Journalism” movement. Utilizing first person narrative, he discussed current events and politics in a more novelistic and opinionated manner. While writing for Rolling Stone magazine, the gonzo journalist once covered a district attorneys’ anti-drug conference after taking copious amounts of psychedelic drugs.
The unapologetic and self-destructive writer never graduated from college, yet he bestowed on himself the title of “the good doctor.” His original voice filled nearly a dozen books, including “Hell’s Angels,” “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72″ and “Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century.” Thompson was best known for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream,” the 1972 book that turned him into a counterculture icon. His latest book, “Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness,” was published in 2004.