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22 Quotes: Happy Birthday Hunter S. Thompson

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Happy birthday Hunter S Thompson, the man who managed the unthinkable - making journalism seem like rock and roll.

Even before you were immortalized in celluloid by your friend Johnny Depp (whom you used to challenge to absinthe drinking competitions - how we'd love to have sat in on those), you were an icon to young journalists who wanted it all: to tell other people's stories and be notorious in their own right.

You pioneered so-called gonzo journalism, breaking with the sacred principle that told journalists never to put themselves at the centre of their story. First you infiltrated the notorious sub-culture of the Hell's Angels in 1966, a gang of motorcycle rebels you represented fairly while the rest of the press were falling over each other to demonize them as villans.

hunter s thompson

Then, in 1971, you produced your opus - an account of your drug-fuelled rampage through Las Vegas, ostensibly to cover a motorcycle race, that became a glorious subversion of the grand narrative of the American Dream. Not since Kerouac had an American novelist produced a version of the road trip that so stirred the loins of aspirant adventurers and hedonists around the world.

A year later you took on Nixon, and showed that mainstream national politics was a topic you could square up to with as much ease and verve as the counter culture you'd come to epitomise. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 would stand as a testimony to the fact that it's possible to cover the game of politics without playing it yourself.

In the years that followed your legacy would be debated, derided and dismissed, but you'd continue to speak to generations of emerging writers at the sweet spot when their fearlessness and their ambition remained their biggest driving force.

Years later, in 2005, you'd die as you'd lived - without compromise. You took your own life with a shotgun aged 67, before the illnesses that had begun to afflict you consumed your life.

As per your wishes, your earthly remains were blasted into the sky from a canon placed on top of the 47m tower shaped like a fist, as the defiant jangle of Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man rang out through the Colorado air.

You soared high into the air then floated down over us, invisible but present, your legacy secured long ago.

Today would have been your 75th birthday party.

And here are just 22 of brilliant, bizarre thoughts you left behind.

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Additional reporting by Alice E. Vincent