Hunter S. Thompson Quotes on Life, Music, Motorcycles, and More

“I think that the truth of what rings through all his writing is that he meant what he said. If that is entertainment to you, well, that’s OK. If you think that it enlightened you, well, that’s even better. If you wonder if he’s gone to Heaven or Hell, rest assured he will check out them both, find out which one Richard Milhous Nixon went to — and go there.”

– Ralph Steadman

Very few writers achieve an image that overshadows their actual body of work, but boy, is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson ever one of them. Hunter S. Thompson quotes are some of the most bizarre (yet insightful) quotes out there. His persona of an acid-soaked degenerate frantically pecking away at the keys of an electric typewriter while surrounded by mounds of rotting, half-eaten grapefruits isn’t entirely spot-on, however. That has been largely played up, especially for the sake of movies like Where the Buffalo Roam and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937, Thompson loved sports from an early age and co-founded an athletic club at his elementary school. In 1952 he was accepted into the Athenaeum Literary Association and contributed articles to its yearbook, although he was kicked out three years later when he was charged as an accessory to robbery. He did not graduate high school following his month-long stint in the slammer.

Thompson joined the Air Force. While stationed at Eglin Air Force Base he lied about his experience to land a job as sports editor for The Command Courier. Following his honorable discharge he worked for Time until he was fired for insubordination. He was subsequently fired from another newspaper for damaging an office candy machine and arguing with one of the rag’s advertisers.

Hunter S Thompson T-Shirt

The Hunter S. Thompson T-Shirt

Thompson is a legend as much as he was a writer, and his style is inimitable.

Thompson ultimately took a job with The Nation to write a story about the Hells Angels. Preferring to live his subject material rather than merely report on it, Thompson spent the next year riding with the club until its members beat the shit out of him. Fortunately for the young author his book Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs put him on the national radar.

Thompson first employed his signature Gonzo style of journalism, which did away with any pretense of objectivity to present himself as the hero of the story, in his 1970 article “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” for Scanlan’s Monthly. This style was birthed out of necessity, as Thompson often had to resort to frantic cadence in order to meet deadlines.

Thompson wrote on a range of topics. “The ‘Hashbury’ is the Capital of the Hippies” critiqued aimless dropouts who sought drugs over political or artistic ideals. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas covers everything from the death of the American Dream to the effects of ether on Thompson’s own body. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 treats readers to its writer’s inimitable political musings, and marks the beginning of Thompson’s outspoken hatred for Richard Nixon.

Thompson began to slow down in 1974, mostly publishing anthologies of his earlier work from there on out. He committed suicide in 2005.

Thompson was a gun nut, political activist (who was very nearly elected sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado in 1970), ardent supporter of the legalization of all drugs (which he did, in fact, consume prodigiously), communist sympathizer, and 9/11 skeptic, and he managed to summon an even greater hatred for George W. Bush than he ever had for Nixon. He was one of a kind, and this is good, because we probably couldn’t handle another.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Quotes

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride … and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well … maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“Hallucinations are bad enough. But after awhile you learn to cope with things like seeing your dead grandmother crawling up your leg with a knife in her teeth. Most acid fanciers can handle this sort of thing. But nobody can handle that other trip-the possibility that any freak with $1.98 can walk into the Circus-Circus and suddenly appear in the sky over downtown Las Vegas twelve times the size of God, howling anything that comes into his head. No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ‘history’ it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time – and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“But our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country-but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“Take it from me, there’s nothing like a job well done. Except the quiet enveloping darkness at the bottom of a bottle of Jim Beam after a job done any way at all.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“My blood is too thick for California: I have never been able to properly explain myself in this climate.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson Quotes on Life

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Hunter S. Thompson

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“Life has improved immeasurably since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
Hunter S. Thompson

“Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas … with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“You better take care of me Lord, if you don’t you’re gonna have me on your hands.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“That was always the difference between Muhammad Ali and the rest of us. He came, he saw, and if he didn’t entirely conquer – he came as close as anybody we are likely to see in the lifetime of this doomed generation.”
Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S Thompson long sleeve

The Hunter S. Thompson Long Sleeve

This long sleeve includes an illustration of the man himself aiming a revolver the size of the mailbox post at some unfortunate thing.

The Best Hunter S. Thompson Quotes

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“I am surprised and embarrassed to be a part of the first American generation to leave the country in far worse shape than it was when we first came into it.”
– Hunter S. Thompson

“Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“The only difference between the sane and the insane is that the sane have the power to lock up the insane.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“I can’t think in terms of journalism without thinking in terms of political ends. Unless there’s been a reaction, there’s been no journalism. It’s cause and effect.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“Democracy as a system has evolved into something that Thomas Jefferson didn’t anticipate.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“The trouble with Nixon is that he’s a serious politics junkie. He’s totally hooked and like any other junkie, he’s a bummer to have around, especially as President.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“America … just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“I wasn’t trying to be an outlaw writer. I never heard of that term; somebody else made it up. But we were all outside the law: Kerouac, Miller, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Kesey; I didn’t have a gauge as to who was the worst outlaw. I just recognized allies: my people.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people – including me – would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“The edge … there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is the ones who have gone over.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”
Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson Music Quotes

“Turn the goddam music up! My heart feels like an alligator!”
Hunter S. Thompson

““Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“I resent your assumption that Music is Not My Bag, because I’ve been arguing for the past few years that music is the New Literature, that Dylan is the 1960s’ answer to Hemingway, and that the main voice of the ’70s will be on records & videotape instead of books.”
Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson Motorcycle Quotes

“Some people will tell you that slow is good – but I’m here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“On my tombstone they will carve, ‘IT NEVER GOT FAST ENOUGH FOR ME.’”
Hunter S. Thompson

“The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.”
Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson Love Quotes

“The greatest mania of all is passion: and I am a natural slave to passion.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and – in spite of True Romance magazines – we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely – at least, not all the time – but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“There are times, however, and this is one of them when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It’s a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.”
Hunter S. Thompson

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