As a huge fan of Rolling Stone magazine and journalism in general, I was sad to hear just a few minutes ago that Hunter S. Thompson was found dead. He apparently shot himself, at the age of 67.
It seems only fitting to mention it here, because Thompson could easily be considered one of the first “bloggers.” No, he didn’t have a blog, but his style of “gonzo journalism” was clearly one of the pioneering forms of writing that soon gave way to what we’re doing right here and right now, on this space you’re currently reading. It was the kind of random, kinetic, first-person journalism that defied editors or corporate gatekeepers. It was raw, to be sure, but it also felt like a direct line between his typing and the reader’s eyes.
Regardless, he was a powerhouse personality. On The Show With No Name, a TV show I directed for a couple of years, one of my favorite clips was this great piece from Conan O’Brien’s show, when he visited Thompson on his Colorado compound and they drank booze and fired guns. Meanwhile, I remember checking out the touring Rolling Stone museum a few years ago and one of the exhibits was a series of correspondence between Thompson and RS editor Jann Wenner. In it, Thompson pleaded with Wenner about needing more money and fast…
It’s a great piece of history for a man who still to this very day can be found in the staffbox of Rolling Stone magazine as head of the “National Affairs Desk.” Since that title seemed ceremonial for the most part, here’s to hoping Wenner will keep it intact. Nevertheless, one of journalism and pop culture’s great wild men will be missed.