Hunter S. Thompson
1937 - 2005
Hunter's wife, Anita, had flown to Pennsylvania to deliver her husband's remains -- kept in an oak box draped with an American flag -- to Zambelli Fireworks. The company loaded the ashes into ten mortar shells packed with gunpowder. Anita wrote "I love you" on each shell, which were then driven by armored car to Woody Creek and packed into the waiting cannon.
Now the moment had arrived. As "Spirit in the Sky" began blasting over the loud speakers, even the handful of drunks in attendance sobered up. The massive drapery enfolding the monument was slowly pulled away, revealing the Gonzo fist at the top of the tower - two feet taller than the Statue of Liberty - a multicolored peyote button pulsating at its center. Ed Bastian, a close friend, read part of the sacred text of the Heart Sutra in Tibetan, and a troupe of Japanese drummers began a choreographed ritual. As the drums stopped, champagne flutes were passed around. Then at 8:46 p.m., more than thirty fireworks rocketed high above Owl Farm, bursting in the night sky illuminated by a nearly full moon. The cannon atop the tower fired, and Hunter's ashes fell over the assembled guests like gray snow, "Mr. Tambourine Man" blaring from the sound system on cue. Hunter was literally all around us now, a destroying angel whooping it up with one final Rebel Yell. I glanced at Hunter's compatriots: Kerry looked curious, McGovern sad, Lovett silent. "I have never seen an event like this," whispered Harry Dean Stanton. "And I'm old. Very old."
Read tributes to HST by Jann Wenner, Johnny Depp, and others.