Hunter S. Thompson, author of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Hell's Angels," and an inspirational figure for writers and political activists, fatally shot himself Sunday night at his home near Aspen, Colo., according to media reports. He was 67.
"Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family," Juan Thompson, the author's son, said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News.
The Associated Press reported that Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a personal friend of Thompson, confirmed the death to the News. Juan Thompson found his father's body. Thompson's wife, Anita, was not home at the time, the AP said. It was not known late Sunday if the shooting was intentional.
In addition to the 1972 classic "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," he is credited with pioneering "gonzo journalism," a type of subjective reporting filled with the author's opinions and an exaggerated rhetorical style.
"Hunter was the most amazing writer I ever edited," said Larry Kramer, former Chairman and CEO of MarketWatch, now an executive for Dow Jones. "He was a true genius ... and a cult hero for a generation of writers, journalists and political activists."
Kramer recalled how, as executive editor at the San Francisco Examiner during the 1980s, he and Thompson, then a weekly columnist for the paper, would have "hour-long debates over the phone about a sentence or a paragraph ... mostly because he'd be constantly pushing to see if he was saying exactly what he wanted to say. We would fight him for every paragraph, hours after deadline, but when he would finally file, it was better than perfect."
Kramer said Thompson "had a better sense of politics and campaigns than anyone I've worked with. He could handicap 50 congressional races and be right on 49."
Kramer also said he remembered, vividly, several incidents working with Thompson.
"One time we got a call from a San Francisco hotel shortly after he had stayed there on a visit to see us," Kramer said. "They wanted us to pay $2,400 for his three nights. When we pressed for a detailed bill, there was a $2,000 item called 'miscellaneous damage' ... something to do with an ice machine that had been shot through with a gun."
The second, Kramer said, "involved a call from a hospital where he had been taken for an emergency appendectomy. They told us they couldn't perform the operation until they had spent a couple days giving him a full blood wash ... apparently his bloodstream was polluted with alcohol and several interesting drugs ... and they were afraid of side effects."
Thompson's other books include "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" and "The Proud Highway." His most recent effort was "Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and The Downward Spiral of Dumbness."