He had shot himself in the head on 20 February 2005. Six months later, his ashes were fired, from a cannon, into the stratosphere, accompanied by fireworks in red, white, blue and green.
He loved explosions, his young widow said, but when he had cocked his gun, she put the receiver down, assuming the blocked writer had finally struck a key on his typewriter, for she still had hope. She missed the final shot. His son, in a room next door, didn’t react immediately either: he thought a book had fallen to the ground. The suicide note was less literary though: “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun – for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax – This won’t hurt.”
Hunter S. Thomson was a larger than life binge writer and reporter who didn’t have a story until he was in it. He called his new type of journalism: Gonzo. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, the juvenile delinquent from Kentucky quickly became a cult figure in Aspen, Colorado, where he’d even run for sheriff. Owl farm at Woody Creek was the personal lighthouse he always returned to from his many travels, a literary saloon with a shooting range. Fifteen books later, the icon of the sixties and seventies had become a jester in the retreat of Hollywood, a hero in the center of show business, sports and politics, having lost for himself all belief in the counter-culture that celebrated him. Drug and alcohol crazed Dr. Gonzo and his alter ego Raul Duke, eventually got in the way of Hunter’s own myth. Between the missed deadlines for the greatest magazines of his time, blasting away his weapons and making outraged phone calls and getting impossibly high or extremely wasted, the moral outlaw, the acclaimed beacon of dissent, got bored and just didn’t have fun anymore.
He had been planning his burial for decades. Ultimately his Hollywood friend, Johnny Depp, fulfilled his last wish and funded the ceremony. From ashes to ashes, from dust to stardust: in a few colourful moments, Hunter became part of the cosmos.
Hunter S. Thomson was named after an alleged forefather of his mother, the eighteen century Scottish physician and anatomist John Hunter. S. Thomson was a doctor too, not in medicine but in divinity; he had bought his title from the Universal Life Church, “just because he could”.