Augustus Owsley Stanley III, still known as “Bear” is now 72. Bear agreed to give The San Francisco Chronicle an interview because a friend asked him. He has rarely consented to speak to the press about his life, his work or his unconventional thinking on matters such as the coming ice age or his all-meat diet.
The name Owsley became a noun that appears in the Oxford dictionary as English street slang for good acid. It is the most famous brand name in LSD history. Probably the first private individual to manufacture the psychedelic, “Owsley” is a folk hero of the counterculture, celebrated in songs by the Grateful Dead and Steely Dan.
As the original sound mixer for the Grateful Dead, Owsley was responsible for fundamental advances in audio technology, things as basic now as monitor speakers that allow vocalists to hear themselves on stage. His habit of making tape recordings of the shows he mixed also gave the Dead an unprecedented archive of live recordings dating back to the band’s first days.
By conservative estimates, Bear Research Group made more than 1.25 million doses of LSD between 1965 and 1967, essentially seeding the entire modern psychedelic movement.
Owsley maintains his own Web site (www.thebear.org) where he sells his sculpture and posts various diatribes and essays.