Gonzo listening: Hunter S. Thompson lists his 10 favourite records of the 60s “rock age”

Hunter S. Thompson lists his 10 favourite records of the “rock age” of the 1960s, including classics from Bob Dylan, The Stones and Miles Davis.

Hunter S. Thompson was no literary snob. In 1970, he wrote to Rolling Stone editor John Lombardo:

“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

In this same letter, which can be found in a collection of correspondences collocated in Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist 1968–1976, Thompson included a list of the best albums of the “rock age” of the 1960s, “because the ’60s are going to go down like a repeat, somehow, of the 1920s; the parallels are too gross for even historians to ignore.”

Thompson gave birth to the vivid phenomenon that is “gonzo journalism”, where the journalist features themselves as the protagonist of a story and relays the ‘truth’ through their own eyes.

Fitting with true gonzo style, the list technically came from Raoul Duke, Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-addled alter ago who featured as the protagonist in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which was released a year after the letter was penned). Here is what it read:

1) Herbie Mann’s 1969 Memphis Underground

2) Bob Dylan’s 1965 Bringing It All Back Home (especially noted as Mr Tambourine Man in his letter)

3) Dylan’s 1965 Highway 61 Revisited

4) The Grateful Dead’s 1970 Workingman’s Dead

5) The Rolling Stones’ 1969 Let it Bleed

6) Buffalo Springfield’s 1967 Buffalo Springfield

7) Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 Surrealistic Pillow

8) Roland Kirk’s “various albums”

9) Miles Davis’s 1959 Sketches of Spain

10) Sandy Bull’s 1965 Inventions

The folks over at Open Culture (who brought this amazing list to light for us) have put together a Spotify playlist of Thompson’s top 10 albums. The playlist should also feature Sandy Bull’s Inventions, but it hasn’t been added to the streaming service.

You can listen below.