mention Ralph Steadman’s iconographic cover artwork.
By Blurt Staff
On October 28 Shout! Factory brings Hunter S. Thompson
to life again via The Gonzo Tapes: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, in concurrence with the Magnolia Pictures film release of Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, directed by Academy Award®-winning
director Alex Gibney.
Legendary Gonzo journalist Hunter
S. Thompson knew from the beginning of his career that he would one day
be famous and so became a dedicated archivist of his own writing, saving copies
of all his correspondence including personal letters, drafts for magazines and
books, angry letters to his editors, and even notes written on cocktail napkins.
But most important to Thompson was his tape recorder, which allowed him to
document his experiences as a participant rather than an observer, often
setting it down in a bar or hotel room to pick up the mood and conversation, or
to record what it was like spending days speeding down highways with the Hell’s Angels.
Recorded by Thompson between 1965 and
1975, these tapes capture his thoughts and descriptions both as they’re
happening and in reflection, as he would often go back to rerecord commentary. Filmmaker Alex Gibney, producer Eva Orner and Gonzo archivist Don Fleming were given
permission by Thompson’s widow to explore the boxes of tapes stored in the basement of his Owl Farm home in Woody
Creek, Colorado, left behind after Thompson’s suicide in 2005. Fleming transferred the audiocassettes and
reel-to-reel tapes to digital files, and they made their way to the cutting
room for the film Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
Gibney, the producer/writer/director of the
film who also made “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” and “Taxi to the Dark Side,” writes in his introduction to The
Gonzo Tapes, “These tapes were pure gold, lending an intimacy to the film
that it couldn’t have had otherwise.” As
Loren Jenkins writes in the notes that accompany The Gonzo Tapes, “The
idea that these tapes will now be made available to the public to help reveal
some of what went on behind the Gonzo screeds is something I believe Hunter
would delight in if he were still alive today.”
The Gonzo Tapes features original cover artwork by Gonzo artist
Ralph Steadman, an introduction by film director Alex Gibney, an essay by
journalist and Thompson’s fellow foreign correspondent
Loren Jenkins, and notes by The Gonzo Tapes producer Don Fleming, former
front man of the Velvet
Monkeys and Gumball who has
produced Sonic Youth, Alice
Cooper, Hole, and more.
Disc 1 of the 5-CD set is titled “Hell’s Angels,” and
includes Thompson’s notes from a year of riding with the infamous biker gang,
an unprecedented feat from which Thompson made a name for himself and which
famously became a book. Discs 2 and 3 contain the notes that materialized as
his well-known novel Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas,
and eventually of course a major motion picture.
Disc 4, titled “Gonzo
Gridlock 1973-1974,“ captures Thompson in the years following the
completion of his book Fear
And Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72, recording his
thoughts for a new novel, drafts of a never published Rolling
Stone story involving Fear and Loathing cohort Oscar Acosta, a
cocaine-fueled never-written assignment from Rolling
Stone on a book titled Cocaine Papers: Sigmund
Freud, as well as notes and an argument with Ralph
Steadman during a 1974 trip to Zaire where he was to report on the
legendary “Rumble In The Jungle” between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali for Rolling Stone, and which he skipped for a swim
in the hotel pool.
Disc 5, titled “Fear and Loathing in
Saigon,” finds Thompson traveling to Vietnam just days before the fall of Saigon in 1975, where, armed with a cooler of
beer and wearing Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, he rode to the front line
and observed the final major combat action of the war. The day before Saigon
fell Thompson left for Laos
to work on a story he had in mind about CIA concentration camps.
Disc 1 – HELL’S ANGELS
Bass Lake Run . . . Terry The Tramp Interview #1 . . .
Driving Back Through Oakland . . . The Merry Pranksters Welcome The Hell’s
Angels . . . It’s A Long Dirty Story . . . Ha-Ha,
Not Thump-Thump . . . Terry The Tramp Interview #2 . . . Zing Zong Wing Ding
Rush . . . A Question For The Ages
Disc 2 – FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
We Have Seized The High Ground . . . One Toke Over The Line . . . If All Else Fails We Must
Get Ether . . . In Search Of The American Dream . . . Terry’s Taco Stand, USA . . .
Anybody In Search Of The American Dream Needs A Lawyer, A Doctor And A
Disc 3 – MORE FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
Goddamn! This Monster‘s Licking My Arm! . .
. Oscar Fled In Terror . . . Drug Up . . . Weird Road . . . Across This Treacherous
Sand . . . A Huge Tidal Wave Will Come In On Me Now . . . Vegas D.A. Final
Notes . . . The Whole Room Is Total Chaos . . .
Wenner Calls . . . With A Big “W” in 65-Pt Type
Disc 4 – GONZO GRIDLOCK 1973-1974
Guts Ball . . . Cozumel . . . Fear And Loathing
In Acapulco . . . Freud Cocaine Papers . . .
Fear And Loathing In Kinshasa
Disc 5 – FEAR AND LOATHING IN SAIGON
I’m The One That’s Supposed To Be Crazy . . . Hotel Continental
Palace . . . The Thursday Night Panic
. . . Last Stand At Xuan Loc . . . Hong Kong . . . The Last Dispatch