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The Bear is Dead, Long Live The Bear

March 14, 2011

the monkey and the engineer

the monkey and the engineer

Owsley “Bear” Stanley III is dead. Considering the life he led, it was a major achievement for him to still be alive in 2011. The trials of time, however, did not take him. Instead, his death would be caused under the influence of man’s most dangerous invention – the car.

The Bear, of course, is the pioneering chemist and impresario who manufactured and distributed the LSD that would become the headlining attraction for the infamous Acid Tests of the 1960s. Owlsey was the grandson of a Kentucky governor and he reportedly found the recipe for the drug in a chemistry book while he was pursuing his higher education at UC Berkeley.

It was a eureka moment for the young man from the Bluegrass State and he presumably used his native-bred moonshine skills to cook up over 5 million hits of LSD. His reportedly “clean” acid inspired band names (Blue Cheer), songs (Purple Haze) and the expansion (as well as the occasional dismantling) of young minds across America. Not only was he the benefactor to the Grateful Dead in their early days, but he also designed their sound system, as well as their “steal your face” logo. The ubiquitous dancing bear, an icon of the Dead, is an homage to the manufacturer of the drugs that made their music so palatable to so many.

luring children into drug use since 1966

Stanley was imprisoned for two years in the early 1970s for drug distribution, but he remained delightfully unreformed by his time in the California penal system. “I wound up doing time for something I should have been rewarded for,” he said. “What I did was a community service.”

Unappreciated for his significant contributions to the culture, he left the US for Australia in the 1980s. He was  reportedly convinced that North America was on the verge of being engulfed in an ice age. He died on a road near his home in Queensland, which ironically has been recently ravaged with rains and floods, theoretically caused by global warming.

read the Wiki here.

The Dead wrote a song about him: “Alice D. Millionaire.”

Grateful Dead – Alice D. Millionaire MP3

Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” is also allegedly about the wayward Bear.

Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne – MP3

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rouli-Roulant permalink
    March 14, 2011 5:22 pm

    Given his mythic status, truly remarkable that he made it this long. Australia? All-meat diet?

    More appropriate to hear from Sonic Boom, as Spectrum, than the Dan.

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