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Bear is Dead....a legend in his own time.

The news came in this week that Owsley “Bear” Stanley died in a car wreck in Australia this week. He was about 72 years old, no one really knows for sure. Bear as he was affectionately called, was probably responsible for more LSD acid trips than anyone in the world. Not just his own trips, but Owsley turned on the world and was happy to do it. His LSD was legendary and made it’s way around the world and into some of the hippest musicians of the time. I’m sure Jimi Hendrix was high on Owsley acid at Monterey, everyone was. This man who is the grandson of a Kentucky governor, had a life that was perpetual motion, a cosmic guy who once was actually a Ballet dancer for a while, Hence his iconic Dead Dancing Bear images. He was so much of the Grateful Dead. He was their sound man, light man; he helped design the lightning/skull logo. He created the wall of sound that was the best performance sound system in the world. Big and loud, but also subtle, Owsley gave the Dead their voice, a voice that could be heard all the way to the back of the stadium. Owsley was a student at UC Berkley for a while, and that is probably where he attained the knowledge to produce the best acid in the world. He turned on the bands, the audience and sent his product to England where the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and countless others got a little taste of West Coast Vibe. Steely Dan’s song Kid Charlemagne is the story of Owsley Stanley. He will be missed. Bob Weir of the Dead says  "He taught me so many things, mostly to always be open and engaging.” That’s Owsley alright. He was always, to me, a man of mystery. Not a lot of pictures of him exist. He was happy to be in the background supplying the fuel for the revolution. You have to wonder if the Bear wasn’t around, would Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters have been quite as merry? Would the ballrooms of San Francisco have been as colorful, or the people for that matter? Owsley always maintained “The whole thing is about social movement. It’s tribalism. Which is the only social structure that makes sense”. Owsley, you made the universe grin, you set wheels in motion that still affects the way people think and relate to each other. I hope you have found peace. The Revolution is still going on Bear, R.I.P.

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03/15/2011 10:51AM
Bear is Dead....a legend in his own time.
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03/18/2011 8:25AM
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