Tuesday 15 March 2011

Owsley "Bear" Stanley- father of LSD

The elderly 76-year-old man, who was killed on the weekend whilst driving on the Kennedy Highway between Davies Creek and Koah, was an infamous former underground LSD cook.

The New York Daily Times said Owsley Stanley, simply known as "Bear", was probably the first private individual to manufacture LSD.
  • ''Between 1965 and 1967 he produced more than 1.25 million doses of LSD—a catalyst for the emergence of the hippie movement

    ... [was] at the centre of the rock and drug scene in San Francisco in the 1960s.

    ...the former manager of the Grateful Dead, an LSD guru who turned on thousands of people in San Francisco in the 1960s and provided the substances for the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour.

    One of his achievements was as the Grateful Dead's sound man for several years, who he pioneered the live recording of performances onto albums (Bear dates from pre-CD days). The album History of the Grateful Dead, Vol 1 released in 1973 was subtitled "Bear's Choice".

    But his bigger contribution to the psychedelic era was in drug production. Working out of an old chemistry book from the University of California at Berkeley in San Francisco, he produced more than a million doses of LSD, to the extent where he was described yesterday by Celeb Stoner as "San Francisco's first acid chemist".

    In the emerging acid rock scene of the time he became the supplier of choice for many musicians. Jim Hendrix's "Purple Haze" was allegedly inspired by Stanley's product.

    He did two years prison for marijuana possession in the early 1970s, and about 20 years ago, fearful of a new ice age, he left the US and emigrated to North Queensland, where he pursued an all-meat diet and sold enamel sculptures on the internet.
Makes the Police statement on the weekend that described Bear as ''an elderly man in his 70's'' a bit lame.

You really don't know who lives in our own back yard. Goes to show, you can't judge a face by it's cover - there's always a colourful story hidden below the surface.


Bryan Law said...

I lived down-river from the American colony that Bear and his friends started up some 20 years ago, when I was learning about appropriate technology.

Bear was an impressive man. He was certainly cutting edge in the way he blended modern technology with natural living, and the whole crew made positive contributions to the regional community.

I wasn't close to him, but he will be missed. Bear was kinda private, and his friends and colleagues will continue to cherish that privacy, so I'm not going to say where they live, but I will observe that Bear thought it the safest and best place on the planet.

Warren Entsch said...

yeh bryan ...say no more 'cause u are upena full on narc...

Matt CYP said...

I'm sorry to hear of Bear Stanley's untimely death - any man who worked with The Dead can't be all bad.
Mike, "infamous" is unecessarily pejorative, and "You really don't know who lives in our own back yard" just shows that you need to get out of town more.
There's a lot more to FNQ than Cairns. The Tablelands was discovered by the post-hippie counter culture when you were still in nappies.
Have a listen to Workingman's Dead, or From the Mars Hotel. Sublime.

Anonymous said...

Matt CYP said...

"Have a listen to Workingman's Dead, or From the Mars Hotel. Sublime."

Not to mention "American Beauty", "Wake of the Flood" or one of the many of the live albums. And have a read of the "Electric Cool Aid Acid Test" by Tom Wolfe, if you would like to know more about this giant of the 60's !

Tony Hillier said...

The NY Daily Times article barely scratches the surface. Having interviewed Bear several times, I can tell you that he was one of the most important figures in the history of rock.

Tony Hillier said...

STOP PRESS: I'll be talking about Bear in a new weekly segment on ABC Far North after 5pm on Friday.

Michael P Moore said...

Shouldn't you be talking on Cairns Community Radio Tony?

Oh, that's right... we don't have a community radio in Cairns!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,

Are the interviews with Bear available somewhere ? I'd love to read them.



Tony Hillier said...

Nick, FYI I've just pitched a story on Bear to The Australian.

Tony Hillier said...

STOP PRESS: The Oz is running a Bear obit in tomorrow's paper. My piece will probably be in the May edition of Rhythms magazine, which is available from several newsagents in Cairns.