DENVER -- Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counterculture writer who popularized a new form of fictional journalism in books like ''Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself last night at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67.
''Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family," Juan Thompson said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News.
Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a friend of Mr. Thompson, confirmed the death to the News. Sheriff's officials did not return calls to the Associated Press last night.
Juan Thompson found his father's body. Mr. Thompson's wife, Anita, was not home at the time.
Besides the 1972 drug-hazed classic about Mr. Thompson's visit to Las Vegas, he also wrote ''Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72." The central character in those wild, sprawling satires was ''Dr. Thompson," a snarling, drug- and alcohol-crazed observer and participant.
Mr. Thompson is credited with pioneering New Journalism -- or, as he dubbed it, ''gonzo journalism" -- in which the writer made himself an essential component of the story. Much of his earliest work appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.
''Fiction is based on reality unless you're a fairy-tale artist," Mr. Thompson told the AP in 2003. ''You have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you're writing about before you alter it."
An acute observer of the decadence and depravity in American life, Mr. Thompson also wrote such collections ''Generation of Swine" and ''Songs of the Doomed." His first-ever novel, ''The Rum Diary," written in 1959, was first published in 1998.
Mr. Thompson was a counterculture icon at the height of the Watergate era, and Richard Nixon once said he represented ''that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character."
Mr. Thompson also was the model for Gary Trudeau's balding ''Uncle Duke" in the comic strip ''Doonesbury" and was portrayed on screen by Johnny Depp in a film adaptation of ''Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Other books include ''The Great Shark Hunt," ''Hell's Angels" and ''The Proud Highway." His most recent effort was ''Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness."
His compound in Woody Creek was almost as legendary as Mr. Thompson. He prized peacocks and weapons; in 2000, he accidentally shot and slightly wounded his assistant, Deborah Fuller, trying to chase a bear off his property.