Owsley Stanley, the LSD chemist who made acid for Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and The Grateful Dead, has been killed in a car accident in Australia.
He was 76 and lived in the bush near Cairns, Queensland since becoming a naturalised citizen in 1996.
In the 1960s Stanley produced LSD that was said to
be purer and finer than any other.
He was also among the first people (in many accounts, the very first) to mass-produce the
drug; its resulting wide availability provided the chemical
underpinnings of an era of love, music, grooviness and sexual freedom.
On ecommentator has described Stanley’s distribution of acid, (he reputedly made 1.25million doses between 1965 and 1967), as turning “the San Francisco scene into the largest LSD party in history.”
Stanley’s batches of LSD were behind the Acid Tests conducted by the novelist Ken
Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, the group of psychedelic adherents
whose exploits were chronicled by another novelist, Tom Wolfe, in his 1968 book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
He was also immortalised in a host of songs, including The Grateful Dead’s Alice D. Millionaire (a play on a newspaper headline, describing one
of his several arrests, that called him an “LSD Millionaire”) and Steeley Dan’s Kid Charlemagne.
When the drug was made illegal in California in 1966 Stanley carried on
running a secret lab.
This was raided in 1967. He escaped jail but
finally went to prison for two years when he was arrested for
possessing marijuana and a judge revoked his bail.
“I wound up doing
time for something I should have been rewarded for,” he said in a rare
interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007.
“What I did was a
community service, the way I look at it. I was punished for political
reasons. Absolutely meaningless. Was I a criminal? No. I was a good
member of society – only my society and the one making the laws are
WATCH A VIDEO ABOUT THE INFLUENCE OF OWSLEY STANLEY’S LSD DISTRIBUTION