Owsley & him

Posted on | March 15, 2011 | 1 Comment

Poster by Owsley for a 1966 Grateful Dead concert in LA's Harmonica Store. Source: Owsley's website. Click on the poster to be taken to thebear.org

Back in the day, journalist Charlie Perry lived in a rooming house in Berkeley. That is where his 1982 Rolling Stone story Owsley & Me* opens with the arrival of a new tenant: “… we were fortunate to live in a house where everybody turned on,” he wrote. “Just how fortunate, we realized in January, 1964, when somebody moved out and all sorts of pensioners and bag ladies started answering the room for rent sign. Suddenly it looked as if our mellow scene was doomed, so when this guy in his late twenties checked out the room and started talking drugs within three minutes, we begged him to move in. Forty-five minutes later, when he hadn’t stopped talking about drugs, we weren’t so sure he was cool. Not really tall, he had a sort of hulking manner, and a wary look, as if constantly planning an end run. We gathered that he was descended from an illustrious southern family – his full name, which he disliked and would legally shorten to ‘Owsley Stanley’ in 1967, was Augustus Owsley Stanley III …”

Perry and Owsley would become friends. Owsley, later known as the alchemist of the Sixties and chemist to the Dead, would take his first hit of acid in that house. Perry would go on to be among the first staff of Rolling Stone magazine. Owsley died this week in a car crash in Australia. To read Perry’s reminiscence of his years with Owsley, click here.

3/15/11, 1.56pm PST, this just in… Perry has penned an updated new piece on Owsley for LA Observed. A must read.

*Published with permission of the author.


One Response to “Owsley & him”

  1. Michael Campana
    March 15th, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

    Great story. Wish I could remember any of this.

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