Between 1965 and 1967, Augustus Owsley Stanley III AKA the "Bear," homebrewed an estimated 1.25 million doses of LSD in the San Francisco Bay Area, fueling a revolution in consciousness, music, art, and the counterculture. The recipe came from a copy of the Journal of Organic Chemistry he found in the UC Berkeley library. The Grateful Dead's first sound engineer, Stanley also pioneered several technologies for live sound. For two decades, Stanley, now 72, has lived off-the-grid in Queensland, Australia. Currently on an extended visit to Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle's Joel Selvin caught up with Bear for a very rare interview. From the article:
Bear, whose grandfather was a Kentucky governor and U.S. senator, grew up in Los Angeles and Arlington, Va. He was thrown out of military school in the eighth grade for being drunk and dropped out of school altogether at 18. He managed to get accepted to the University of Virginia, where he spent a year studying engineering. By 1956, he was in the Air Force, specializing in electronics and radar.
Later, Bear studied ballet, acting and Russian, worked in jet propulsion labs as well as radio and television, and then entered UC Berkeley in 1963, but lasted less than a year.
Then he discovered acid…
Owsley Stanley (he legally dropped the "Augustus" 40 years ago) has also not joined the ranks of the penitent psychedelicists who look on their experiences as youthful indiscretions.
"I wound up doing time for something I should have been rewarded for," he says. "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 different."