True Stories
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14 Bizarre Stories From Hunter S. Thompson's Life

Updated June 30, 2020 545.5k views14 items

Hunter S. Thompson lived a pretty crazy life and there are plenty of true stories to prove it. This should come as no surprise, since just a few of his credos were: "Buy the ticket, take the ride," "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me," and "'Crazy' is a term of art; 'Insane' is a term of law. Remember that, and you will save yourself a lot of trouble." When these are the credos you live by, you find yourself in some crazy situations. 

Hunter S. Thompson was a man who played by his own rules to such an extent that he invented new ones, got other people to follow them, published his findings and called it all "Gonzo." His exploits are the stuff of legend. Who else could make a year-long stint on the campaign trail seem interesting to the masses? Or make going to the Kentucky Derby seem like the most insane trip of one's life? Who else could set the bar on the insane depravity that is Vegas? 

Hunter S. Thompson lived an amazing life, and he lived it his way right up until he was done with it. These are the craziest Hunter S. Thompson stories, may they inspire you to have some of your own. Buy the ticket. Take the ride.
  • He Used Crates Of Dynamite As Furniture

    Johnny Depp lived with Hunter S. Thompson for a while to get his speech patterns and mannerisms down in order to play him in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  

    He lived down in Thompson's basement, in a room that was made of whatever was available at the time. Depp recalls ashing his cigarette into an ashtray on his bedside table when he noticed that the table itself was a crate of dynamite.  

    Explosions were actually pretty common throughout their friendship, which started with Depp blowing up propane tanks in Thompson's yard, and ended with Depp fulfilling the author's request that his ashes be shot out of a cannon.  

  • He Attempted To Light His Editor On Fire

    Jann Wenner wasn't just the editor of Rolling Stone, he was also a friend of Thompson's. One night while staying at Owl Creek he wasn't paying as much attention to a Joni Mitchell album as Thompson wanted him to be.

    Thompson decided the best way to wake him was by spraying a fire extinguisher at Wenner, who shook awake, gagging and coughing. This wasn't the first time Wenner was on the receiving end of Thompson's pranks. A now-famous Annie Leibovitz photograph shows Thompson in the midst of one of his favorite party tricks: spitting fire.

  • Photo: Georges Biard / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    He Almost Drowned Bill Murray

    Much like Depp would in the '90s, back in the early ’80s Bill Murray was hanging out with Thompson a lot, in order to better portray him in Where the Buffalo Roam.  

    One night, when Murray and Thompson were getting drunk, they began challenging each other with more and more intense Houdini-Esque escapes. Murray was fairly confident that he'd be able pull off a daring, underwater rope escape. So Thompson tied him to a chair and swiftly kicked him into the swimming pool.  

    It soon became clear that Murray couldn’t escape, and was quickly drowning. His escape may have been thwarted because Thompson had decided to use duct tape instead of rope. Luckily, Thompson was able to rescue Murray from the swimming pool.

  • Photo: ABC / YouTube

    He Interviewed Keith Richards

    What happens when you put Hunter S. Thompson and Keith Richards in a room together? 

    Thankfully, in 1993, we got to find out when, after promising an interview to ABC Richards decided that he wanted more money and locked his door refusing to open it and do the interview. 

    ABC somehow had Thompson on speed dial and asked him to conduct the interview. Thompson agreed, and solved the whole locked door debacle by blaring a recording of a pig being slaughtered into Richards's room (just as he'd done to Jack Nicholson on his birthday). A confused, cattle prod wielding Richards opened the door in no time.  

    You can see the full interview here.