With a deafening boom, the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were blown into the sky amid fireworks late Saturday as relatives and a star-studded crowd bid an irreverent farewell to the founder of "gonzo journalism."
Workers put the finishing touches on a memorial to "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson (CP photo)
As the ashes erupted from a tower, red, white, blue and green fireworks lit up the sky over Thompson's mountain home in Woody Creek near Aspen, Colorado.
The 15-storey tower was modelled after Thompson's personal logo: a clenched fist rising from the hilt of a dagger. It was built between his home and a tree-covered canyon wall, not far from a tent filled with merrymakers.
The private celebration included actors Bill Murray and Johnny Depp, rock bands, blow-up dolls and plenty of liquor.
Thompson fatally shot himself on February 20, exactly six months ago. He was 67, and said to have been frustrated by physical problems, including a bad hip and a broken leg.
Thompson had said on several occasions that after he died, he wanted his ashes fired from a cannon.
Thompson was probably most famous for his 1971 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream - a fictionalized first-person account of a drug-addled road trip that the New York Times Book Review has called "the best book of the dope decade." He first came to widespread attention after the 1966 publication of Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, which he wrote after spending a year with bikers.
During his life, he had published 14 books and written hundreds of freelance articles - most famously for Rolling Stone magazine, but also for Time, the New York Herald Tribune, the Nation, High Times magazine and the San Francisco Examiner.
His life was the subject of several films, including Where the Buffalo Roam (1980) with Bill Murray playing Thompson, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), with Johnny Depp playing the Thompson character Raoul Duke.
He was also the model for the character "Uncle Duke" in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury.
From 1963 onwards, Thompson lived in relative seclusion at his home in the Rocky Mountains. He proudly fired his guns whenever he wanted, let peacocks have the run of his land and in 1970, ran for sheriff under the Freak Power Party banner.
His widow, Anita Thompson, has said she has plans to publish at least three new books of unpublished letters and stories by her late husband, and is looking for a permanent archive for his works.
She has also said there will later be a public event commemorating his life.