Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One Pill Makes You Smaller, and One Pill Makes You Tall ...

Back in the days before there were hippies -- pre-Summer-of-Love, in California -- there was Owsley, also known as "Bear."

A brilliant fellow, he was, at one time, the sound man for the Grateful Dead, and responsible for recording and preserving many of their live performances during the San Francisco psychedelic heyday.

He was also known for producing the best LSD available. Until 1966, the drug wasn't illegal -- busted in 1965 because the local cops thought he was making meth, he sued to get his gear and acid back -- they didn't find any meth -- and won.

Used mostly for psychiatric research, and by the military looking for a weapon prior to this, acid became, of course, the drug of choice at the center of the alternative-culture movement in the Haight Ashbury District of San Francisco, and it isn't too big a stretch to credit Owsley as the main reason psychedelic rock (then called Acid Rock) arose from groups like the Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Hendrix, the late-career Beatles, Iron Butterfly, to name a few.

Eventually, of course, LSD and other psychedelics were outlawed, and eventually, Owsley was arrested and sent away for three years.

He got out of prison, dropped his profile, and began to produce sculptures and castings, which apparently sell quite well. He lives somewhere in the Australian outback these days, doesn't do many interviews, and sells his art and old music recordings.

A fascinating part of hippie-history.

Owsley, a short bio.

Bear's website.

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