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What Makes A Legend?: Owsley Stanley AKA Bear

Classic Track: “Alice D. Millionaire”

Early band benefactor, sound system designer, supplier of psychedelic substances, and co-designer of good ol’ Stealie (at right), the Grateful Dead wrote “Alice D. Millionaire,” when 1967 newspaper headlines screamed the “LSD Millionaire” had been busted in his East Bay lab. Born Augustus Owsley Stanley III, grandson of a Kentucky senator and known to all as Bear, “The Artisan of Acid” died last Sunday in Queensland, Australia. He’d been living as a naturalized citizen there since 1996 as part of an effort to escape the ill effects of global warming on the Northern Hemisphere.

Career Highs: Monterey Purple, White Lightening, Blue Cheer were just some of what the underground chemist served up to the world’s biggest rock stars. Jimi Hendrix was said to have taken the Owsley Purple on the night of his fiery appearance at Monterey Pop; Brian Jones and Pete Townshend also famously turned on that weekend. Present at the Acid Tests in late 1965 and early 1966, Bear was forever aligned with the Grateful Dead. Not only did he and his friend Bob Thomas design their lightening bolt skull logo, he was the architect of their sound system, a musician-friendly, superior set-up that revolutionized rock music.

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