Wednesday, 16 March 2011


My obituary of Owsley Stanley, who provided acid for Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead, and a whole generation of Americans, is in today's Guardian, you can link to it here. Sadly, there was far more to write about than space; I particularly liked the idea of long arguments over the band becoming carnivores, and the fact that after he devised the Wall of Sound for the Dead they actually didn't tour for some two years. It was a long strange trip indeed.

It's also interesting to consider how many of the people who actually generated 'the summer of love' and the hippie movement, and were radicals in the 60s, were actually of the pre-baby boomer generation, and to what a huge extent the baby boomers, my generation, simply consumed, felt good, and moved on, to (in many ways) mess up the world they were trying to improve. Someone like Owsley, whose fierce intelligence was truly altered by mind-expanding drugs, provides some sort of moral lesson for us, and I'm not just saying that because I just turned 60. Nor because among Stanley's own sound archives are some wonderful tapes of Jerry Garcia's bluegrass band, Old And In The Way, with Vassar Clements and Peter Rowan.

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