The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved | Hunter S Thompson
Paris Records through an exclusive license with 429 Records, is set to release “THE KENTUCKY DERBY IS DECADENT AND DEPRAVED BY HUNTER S. THOMPSON”—an all-star cast of musicians and actors lead by Tim Robbins, Dr. John, Bill Frisell, Ralph Steadman, Annie Ross, John Joyce III and Will Forte who bring Thompson’s classic Gonzo reportage on the 1970 Kentucky Derby to life through spoken word and musical composition. Conceived by executive producer Michael Minzer, the project was produced by Hal Willner who brought together a stellar group of musicians led by composer and arranger Bill Frisell and including Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Ron Miles (trumpet), Eyvind Kang (viola), Doug Weiselman (woodwinds), Jenny Scheinman (violin), Hank Roberts (cello) and Kenny Wolleson (drums, percussion). Ralph Steadman does double duty portraying himself in the narration and contributing original artwork for the project. “THE KENTUCKY DERBY IS DECADENT AND DEPRAVED BY HUNTER S. THOMPSON” will be available on April 3rd.
In 2005, Paris Records founder Michael Minzer called up his friend Hal Willner with the idea of recording a definitive performance of an all time classic piece of journalism, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved.” Originally published in Scanlon’s Monthly in June of 1970, it’s the quintessential example of Hunter S. Thompson’s uniquely humorous and piercing insight—the article that inspired the term Gonzo Journalism (coined by the late Bill Cardoso). Minzer and Willner had collaborated before on several “wide open” tributes to such literary luminaries as Allen Ginsberg’s “The Lion For Real”, William S. Burrough’s “Dead City Radio” and Terry Southern’s “Give Me your Hump!.” Hal was friends with Ralph Steadman who’s involvement was a major boost in getting the project off the ground. Hal also was able to enlist Tim Robbins as lead narrator and Bill Frisell to oversee the music and the project was off to the races so to speak.
Says Michael Minzer: “The big challenge was to match Bill’s sharply drawn moody vignettes with the perfect segments of a very long reading. When we realized that it all worked out beautifully, Hal just said ‘I told you I had worked on this!’’
Says Tim Robbins: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this project—who could say no to such an opportunity to toast the king of Gonzo journalism? It’s been a great pleasure diving into the chaotic, genius prose of Hunter and I feel flattered to be working with such a stellar group of creative folks like Hal Wilner, Ralph Steadman, Bill Frisell and Michael Minzer who made it come alive so brilliantly.”
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