David Pratt – Ten years ago today, about 350 friends and family of Hunter S. Thompson said goodby with a raucous funeral according to the Good Doctor’s wishes. Thompson died February 20, 2005 after shooting himself in his kitchen at Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado, at the age of 67.
On August 20, 2005, Thompson’s cremated ashes were fired from a 153-foot tall tower topped with the infamous double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button. The explosive send-off was held on Thompson’s Woody Creek property accompanied by a fireworks display.
Among Thompson’s friends attending were actors Sean Penn, Bill Murray and Johnny Depp, along with artist Ralph Steadman. Lyle Lovett and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band performed.
In an interview with the BBC in 1978, Thompson first suggested that, instead of a funeral, he would like to say farewell to his friends at a party where his ashes would be shot from a cannon.
“Hunter told us over and over that he was serious about firing his ashes into the sky,” the gonzo writer’s son, Juan Thompson, said in 2005. “He kept saying this is not just one of his deranged ideas. He was serious on this one.
“He said we should hear his friends talking, hear ice clinking in whiskey glasses, and then this cannon blasts off. And that’s the end of Hunter.”
THE CANNONIZATION OF HUNTER S. THOMPSON
“My father wouldn’t have actually gone to anything like this,” Juan Thompson told the Washington Post in 2005. “He would have set himself up in a corner, at a bar or in the kitchen, and let people come up to him one by one. He didn’t like mob scenes. He didn’t do big parties.”
Johnny Depp organized and paid for the event to the tune of more than $2 million, according to Thompson’s family. The fist cannon, belonging to Depp, is now safely tucked away in a storage facility. The tower was not allowed to remain on the property due to its height and aviation regulations.
Poet Ron Whitehead, friend of Thompson and organizer of GonzoFest, wants to bring the tower to Thompson’s hometown of Louisville to erect it permanently in conjunction with the unveiling of a Thompson statue at GonzoFest 2016 in April.
“Nick Storm of Storm Generation Films, and I discussed the possibility of convincing Johnny Depp to donate the giant fist to the City of Louisville, as its permanent home, so we can place it next to the life size bronze statue renowned sculptor Matt Weir is creating for GonzoFest Louisville,” said Whitehead.
“Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and I discussed the idea after his talk at GonzoFest Louisville 2015,” the poet added. “The Mayor is in full support.”
No word yet from Depp on the possibility of Louisville getting fisted.