Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author, 67, shot himself, say sheriff s officials

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 21, 2005 09:00 AM
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Hard-living writer Hunter S. Thompson, author of the 1972 first-person “gonzo journalism” classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was found dead Sunday in his Aspen-area home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, sheriff’s officials said. He was 67.

Thompson’s wife, Anita, was not home at the time, say news reports. His son, Juan Thompson, also survives him.

Thompson, who was closely associated with Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s, was a counterculture icon at the height of the Watergate era, and once said president Richard Nixon represented “that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character.”

Born July 18, 1937, in Kentucky, Hunter Stocton Thompson served two years in the Air Force, where he was a newspaper sports editor. He later became a proud member of the National Rifle Association and almost was elected sheriff in Aspen in 1970 under the Freak Power Party banner, reports the Associated Press.

Garry Trudeau’s balding “Uncle Duke” in the comic strip “Doonesbury” was modeled on Thompson, who was also played on screen by Johnny Depp in a 1998 screen version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Besides Vegas – the opening sentence of which read: “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold” – Thompson’s books included Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, The Great Shark Hunt, Hell’s Angels and The Proud Highway. His most recent effort was Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness.