Owsley the Acid King

By Dirk Hanson 05/02/11
Augustus Stanley Owsley III
Photo via obit-mag

In the beginning, there was Owsley. The counterculture was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the land; and the Spirit of Psychedelia was moving over the face of the waters. And Owsley said, “Let there be acid.” And Owsley saw that acid was good, and Owsley separated the good acid from the bad acid. What he sowed was reaped by Tim Leary, Ken Kesey, Jerry Garcia, and a host of other 60s luminaries, and the harvest spewed forth both beautiful fruit and rotten apples. People tolerated the eccentric habits of LSD chemist Augustus Stanley Owsley III—his all-meat diet, his belief in various apocalyptic scenarios—because, as Tom Wolfe immortalized Owsley’s contribution to the psychedelic movement: The little dude made righteous acid. Owsley, who died last month just before The Fix went live--dead at 76, in an automobile accident in rural Australia, where he had lived for years, determined to survive the coming ice age he was convinced was upon us.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]