Saturday, July 14, 2007

Interview with a folk hero

Growing up in San Fransisco, the name Owsley Stanley III was legendary. While I was too young to actually try his LSD (as far as I know), much of what we took was purported to be "purple Owsley". So this interview tickled my memory:
The name Owsley became a noun that appears in the Oxford dictionary as English street slang for good acid. It is the most famous brand name in LSD history. Probably the first private individual to manufacture the psychedelic, "Owsley" is a folk hero of the counterculture, celebrated in songs by the Grateful Dead and Steely Dan.

"I never set out to change the world," he rasps in recalling his early manufacture of LSD. "I only set out to make sure I was taking something (that) I knew what it was. And it's hard to make a little. And my friends all wanted to know what they were taking, too. Of course, my friends expanded very rapidly."

By conservative estimates, Bear Research Group made more than 1.25 million doses of LSD between 1965 and 1967, essentially seeding the entire modern psychedelic movement.

I never met him (that I know of. He was notorious for hiding his identity.) but his impact on the San Fransisco of my youth was incredible. I was a deadhead, and he was literally the creator of the Grateful Dead's sound. And there was that LSD thing, which I'm sure had no effect on the course of my life.

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