Owsley Stanley (b. Augustus Owsley Stanley, January 19, 1935) was the first 'underground' chemist to mass produce high-quality LSD in the 1960s. Known to most simply as Owsley or Bear, he served eighteen months in the U.S. Air Force during the 1950s. In 1963 he began attending the University of California, Berkeley where he tried his first psychoactive drug and decided to produce methedrine. Police eventually raided his lab in 1965 but found only precursors.
Owsley moved to Los Angeles to pursue the production of LSD. He used his methedrine proceeds to buy bulk lysergic acid and produced an enormous quantity of individual LSD 'trips', estimated at anywhere between 100,000 and 10 million doses. Once finished, he returned to the Bay area, where he supplied LSD to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters for their famous acid tests. Through them he also met the Grateful Dead in 1966 and began supporting them both financially and as a sound man. During this time he made numerous live recordings of the Dead and other leading San Francisco acts including Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin.
In late 1967, Owsley's lab was raided by police; he was found in possession of a huge quantity of LSD, the equivalent of several hundred thousand individual doses. Despite this incriminating evidence, he claimed that it was for personal use, but was eventually found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. (A newspaper headline mis-identifying Owsley as an "LSD Millionaire" following his arrest inspired the Grateful Dead song "Alice D Millionaire.") The same year, Owsley officially shortened his name to "Owsley Stanley". Owsley Stanley went on to do more sound work for the Grateful Dead after he was released from prison. He now lives in Queensland, Australia.
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