What Hunter S. Thompson Really Said About the Music Industry

Portrait of Hunter S. Thompson for Sale at Bonnaroo, 2010
  • Save

Portrait of Hunter S. Thompson for Sale at Bonnaroo, 2010
  • Save
Portrait of Hunter S. Thompson for Sale at Bonnaroo, 2010 (photo: librarianfinsen CC by 2.0)

Hunter S. Thompson is often credited for penning a darkly accurate description of a crooked music industry. But the quote, which frequently starts, ‘the music industry is a cruel and shallow money trench,’ turns out to be an internet fiction.

In reality, Thompson wasn’t talking about the music industry at all, according to some diligent research by David Emery.

Here’s the original quote, first printed in 1985 in the San Francisco Examiner and later in 1988 in Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s before getting twisted around.

“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.

Which is more or less true.  For the most part, they are dirty little animals with huge brains and no pulse.”  

  • Save

  • Save

The rest — including the ‘there’s also a negative side’ ending — seems like total embellishment.  But the biggest fiction is that the entire above quote is about the music industry.

But that doesn’t mean the shoe doesn’t fit.

Middle image adapted from a caricature illustration in the public domain.

13 Responses

  1. Myles na Gopaleen

    The quote at the end of the article sums it up nicely

    “I don’t know the percentage of the Internet that’s valid, do you?…….

  2. Visitor

    “‘there’s also a negative side’ — seems like total embellishment”

    I’d love to find out who coined it… 🙂

  3. Corina

    Wow, you REALLY didn’t understand this quote. Read some Thompson, develop a taste of his unique blend of vitrious sarcasm, then comment on his quotes. And please, avoid using grabbing headlines which effectually mislead the reader; one of your worst moments, DMN.

    • Visitor

      Did you read the article that was linked?

      This article is about other people misquoting Hunter S T.

      You should try reading a bit more.

  4. Hunter Apologist

    I was a neighbor and lived across the street from Hunter in 1993/1994 and nuzzling up the bar with him at the Woody Creek Tavern, told him that I was going to start up my own record label.

    He knew I had worked in the business in L.A. before coming to Aspen and, upon telling him my plans, said to me(without looking at me), “Why the fuck would you want to do something so stupid as THAT?!”

    Got up, walked away.

  5. Visitor 770

    This is not news. Maybe Paul just found out about it, but a few minutes of research would have revealed this. This article, and research is not unique, fresh or groundbreaking, I’m sorry to say.

    • Visitor

      It is news to those that continue to give credit to Hunter S Thompson for a quote he never made.

      At least those writing about the music business can now add “To paraphrase Hunter S Thompson…” then change TV to music business.

      • Gonzo

        …clearly those who haven’t read Thompson. This was news in 1999.

        • Visitor

          ……except when it comes to the internet many writers were not reading the news or Hunter S Thompson in 1999 let alone comprehending it.

  6. Softball Glove

    Thanks for giving your ideas. I might also like to express that video games have been actually evolving. Modern tools and inventions have assisted create authentic and fun games. Most of these entertainment games were not that sensible when the actual concept was first of all being tried. Just like other areas of know-how, video games also have had to evolve by way of many years. This itself is testimony towards the fast growth of video games.

  7. Striped Scarves

    What I have continually told people today is that while searching for a good internet electronics retail store, there are a few aspects that you have to factor in. First and foremost, you need to make sure to find a reputable as well as reliable retailer that has gotten great reviews and classification from other shoppers and business world professionals. This will make certain you are getting through with a well-known store to provide good services and help to the patrons. Thank you for sharing your ideas on this web site.

  8. somedude

    to me I still love what the quote became because I live in LA right now… and that embellished quote rings so true!!!!