Augustus Owsley Stanley III, by any yardstick one of the key promoters and launchers of LSD use in the mid to late ’60s (equal to the influence of Timothy Leary, Jimi Hendrix‘s ‘Are You Experienced?‘ album and the Beatles), died yesterday in a car crash in Australia at the age of 76.
Everything you need to know about the hip factor at The Hollywood Reporter is contained in this headline for their Stanley obit.
If you accept, as I do, that spiritual satori by way of LSD in the ’60s triggered the spiritual revolution of the ’70s and introduced a whole new level of comprehension about mystical enlightenment (the concept of which, before the mid ’60s, hadn’t even penetrated U.S. culture, given the general tendency to regard spiritual matters in terms handed down in Sunday church services), then the death of Stanley is, in a sense, like the passing of John the Baptist, St. Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther or any other major spiritual figure of the past.
Stanley’s Wiki bio says he was “probably the first private individual to manufacture LSD. Between 1965 and 1967 he produced more than 1.25 million doses of LSD — a catalyst for the emergence of the hippie movement during the Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury area, which one historian of that movement, Charles Perry, has described as ‘one big LSD party.’ Stanley was also an accomplished sound engineer, and the longtime sound man and financier for psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead.”
“‘[Stanley] made acid so pure and wonderful that people like Jimi Hendrix wrote hit songs about it and others named their band in its honor,’ former rock ‘n’ roll tour manager Sam Cutler wrote in his 2008 memoir ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want.’
“Hendrix’s song ‘Purple Haze’ was reputedly inspired by a batch of Stanley’s product. The ear-splitting blues-psychedelic combo Blue Cheer took its named from another batch.”