LSD pioneer and sound technician for the Grateful Dead, Owsley “Bear” Stanley died Saturday in a car accident in Queensland, Australia at age 76.
Best known for his production of about a pound of pure LSD (about five million trips), Owsley became a common slang name for the drug of the 60’s. Stanley and his mind-altering substance were catalysts to a revolution in music, art, overall awareness, and counterculture. Although he was arrested and served two years in jail, he always stood strong by his belief that LSD was beneficial to society: “I wound up doing time for something I should have been rewarded for…What I did was community service.”
In addition to Stanley’s fame for his production of LSD and responsibility for creating the foundation of the psychedelic era, he is also recognized for his involvement with the Grateful Dead (even briefly managing the group) dating all the way back to Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests. As the Grateful Dead’s first sound engineer, he is also iconic for the advances he made to sound technology.
The Bear bought equipment for the band and used them as an opportunity to experiment and research sound. “We’d never thought about high-quality PA’s… There was no such thing until Bear started making one,” said the Dead’s Bob Weir. He is also responsible for many of the bands live-recorded albums – he did the taping himself.
"Bear, as we knew him, was one of my all-time biggest influences," Weir said in a statement. "Always, when I think of him, I think of the endless stuff he taught me or somehow made me realize; all stuff that I've been able to use to the benefit of countless people."