The Five Most Gonzo Stories About Hunter S. Thompson 

Terrorizing Jack Nicholson, nearly blowing up Johnny Depp, and more.

By Alex Heigl

A rejection letter that Hunter S. Thompson sent to a prospective Rolling Stone contributor recently popped up online, and it got us thinking about the man, the myth, and the possibly apocryphal pile of stories surrounding his legend. Beyond the stomping by Hell's Angels, beyond the legendary Vegas bender, here are five of the good Doctor's finest moments.



1. He invented the sport of shotgun golf.

The story: Thompson was an avid sportsman and firearm enthusiast, so he was almost duty-bound to combine the two at some point in his life. Enter shotgun golf, first conceived with Bill Murray (of course) at 3:30 in the morning on a Tuesday, then written up for Thompson's last column for ESPN. The equipment list is short and sweet: golf club, golf ball, shotgun. (Preferably a 12-gauge.) The participants are a shooter, a golfer, and a judge, though the game can be expanded for two-man teams. The objective is simple: if you're golfing, you need to make it onto the green. If you're shooting, you need to blast your opponent's golf ball into oblivion. Two points are awarded for success on either end. Thompson played the first game with Aspen Sheriff Bob Braudis... and then John Cusack played a round with him after somehow being coerced (or bullied) into stealing Don Henley's car.

Likelihood that it actually happened: The game? It's real — people still play it. As for Cusack stealing Henley's car? I'd like independent clarification from Henley about that. I'll say it's possible, but only because Thompson must have seen something in Cusack.

Gonzo quotient: "Shotgun golf" is a profound melding of high and low culture, though it's unlikely Thompson had post-modern aesthetics on his mind when he called Bill Murray in the middle of the night. But nothing involving golf can be truly that badass, so this falls relatively low on the scale.



2. He used crates of dynamite as furniture, almost blowing up Johnny Depp in the process.

The story: Johnny Depp lived with Thompson for a while to get his mannerisms down for the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. His quarters were down in Thompson's basement, and apparently they were hastily assembled out of whatever was handy at the time: Depp recalls going to ash his cigarette into an ashtray on his bedside table and then casually noticing that the table itself was a crate of dynamite. He called Thompson down to the basement and asked if the dynamite was real; Thompson replied, "Good God, Colonel [his nickname for Depp]! You could have blown us all to bits!" Explosions seemed par for the course during the tenure of Depp and Thompson's friendship. Their relationship began with Depp blowing up propane tanks in Thompson's yard, and ended with the actor bankrolling Thompson's request to have his ashes shot out of a cannon.

Likelihood that it actually happened: Multiple parties have confirmed Thompson's love of explosions, and a police search of his compound at Owl Creek did turn up several sticks of dynamite at one point, so I'm going to go with "likely."

Gonzo quotient: The fact that Thompson had so much dynamite simply lying around his home that he actively misplaced a crate of it is indicative of how much the man loved to blow shit up. Johnny Depp living in his basement like some kind of wacky sitcom roommate only adds to the gonzoness.

Commentarium (23 Comments)

Aug 19 11 - 1:05am

I heard--from former Rolling Stone COO Jim Dunning--that Thompson once coerced Dunning to get into a little motorboat and sail from Key West to Havana. At gunpoint. Dr. Thompson will forever be my hero.

Aug 19 11 - 8:16am

Probably schizophrenic but adored by those who enjoyed his antics more than they cared to help him. RIP Hunter, I hope you found peace.

Aug 19 11 - 1:12pm

There he goes, one of God's own prototypes, never considered for mass production. Too crazy to live, too weird to die.

Aug 19 11 - 3:48pm

Another hack whom hipster dufus apathetically admire....

Aug 20 11 - 11:12am

Read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

Aug 20 11 - 9:27pm

Another hipster who thinks the things that other hipsters love are too hipsterish.

Aug 25 11 - 3:44pm
Your Mother

Shut up, Steve.

Oct 17 11 - 1:40pm

Must fools criticise that which they dont understand. "man" is simply one of these many fools

Aug 20 11 - 9:13am
Brandt Hardin

What an awesome post and article- a couple of these I had never heard, particularly terrorizing Jack Nicholson. Thompson influenced the past few generations with his invention of Gonzo Journalism. His work and antics will live on to influence even more generations to come. I paid tribute to Hunter S Thompson and his work with my portrait and article on my artist's blog at

Aug 20 11 - 9:27pm

Imagine a sitcom about Johnny Depp and Thompson living together, with Depp playing both rolls...

Aug 25 11 - 3:46pm
Your Mother

They titled it Californication, and it sucks. Shut up, Steve.

Aug 21 11 - 10:09am

In Ralph Steadman's book "The Joke's over" He describes the first time he met Hunter S Thompson. Apparently Steadman had never been to American and was at the Kentucky Derby. Baffled by the American's he saw in the diner where he met up with Thompson he began to draw them in his trademark style. Thompson freaked out thinking that the people around them would think he is insane so he began to beat the living crap out of Steadman in the Diner and throw him out the door. Thompson later explained it was for his own good.

Aug 21 11 - 8:52pm

Hunter S. Thompson was a true friend of masochistic mouthbreathers who mistook extreme assholery for talent. They are not the same - honest. Thank the effin' gods there is one less asshole in the world, and the best part is that he orchestrated his own exit. Thank you Hunter for killing yourself - you were a misogynistic, self-obsessed, hateful prick.

Aug 25 11 - 10:40am
Louise G.

You are fucking retarded.

Aug 25 11 - 3:47pm
Your Father

And you love asshole men who tell you what to do. Shut up, bitch.

Oct 17 11 - 1:41pm

i agree go fuck yourself giggles

Apr 02 12 - 9:46am
Danny O'Doul

What is it with these guys who spew nonsense about Hunter Thompson? Have they even read any of his writings? Can they even read? I have almost everything he wrote, and when he was on - he was perhaps the most alive and exciting writers with the most resonant voice.

Apr 13 12 - 6:27pm
Baron Von Buzzkill

I think he's allowed to voice his opinion. Hunter made innumerable enemies in his life and was known for really leaning hard on people and constantly getting away with it.

If you read a lot about the man-- and not by himelf, you'd learn that Thompson was not all he was cracked up to be.. and he knew it too.

sonny Barger, the leader of the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels said it right when he said he had the right to think Hunter Thompson was an asshole. Barger says that just because someone is famous and talented and amazing at what they do doesn't make them a good guy.

Thompson is by far my favorite writer and his impression, no doubt, is left on thousands of people including myself. That man is the reason why I took the career trajectory that I did.. but I dont claim to know the man, and just because you've read his writing doesn't mean you should eihter.

Aug 23 11 - 1:22am

Discharging a Smith&Wesson model 29 on a Harley: is there a more American late-20th century pop-culture image than that? Lawdy-Lew, i love them both (although i currently possess two examples of the former and none of the latter).

Yet I wonder about those who diss Hunter: don't they see that he tapped into a very rich and real vein of American culture?

Mr (Ms?) Giggles, however Mr. Thompson chose to make his exit, what about the values -- and elements of American culture -- that he spoke for? You may not like them, but they are here. And -- i should say -- "misogynistic" is not a fair characterization of his written views.

Aug 27 11 - 11:54am

He was a self fertilizing, self harvesting, jerk...tried too hard, and, thereby, missed always.

Sep 22 11 - 5:39am

Why read the article if you are just going to troll? Oh, I just answered my own question.

Aug 11 12 - 9:56pm

What alot of you seem to have ignored is his writing which is completely unique and will stand the test of time. He writes with an energy and a pace that I have never come across elsewhere. He may have been an asshole and self promoter but his art cannot be denied.

Aug 23 12 - 7:02pm

Guns, drugs, whiskey, high powered vehicles, football and politics. A truly american diet. I think that these Gonzo haters are well, essentially pussies. Im sure that there's the illusion of academic eliteism too..but like I said -bleeding pussies