Tag Archives: LSD

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

What a long strange trip it was

January 19, 1935 – March 13, 2011

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley
The cover of Greenfield’s book.

In Robert Greenfield’s The Life and Times of Augustus Owsley Stanley III,” an epigraph quotes Stanley:

I am not interested in having a biography of any kind published about me or any mention of my childhood. anything written about me should be about the things I’ve done and the skills and talents I have and not, “He grew up here, he went to this school, he was in trouble there” and all that bullshit. Because that the way you create celebrityhood and I’m not into being  celebrity. I don’t give a shit.” January 31, 2007

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Blue-blood Bluegrass Heritage

August Owsley Stanley III had deep roots in Kentucky.  William Stanley, his great grandfather, fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and became governor of Kentucky.

His grandfather, the first Augustus Owsley Stanley, had a long successful political career as a Democratic Congressman, a US Senator, and the governor of Kentucky. His defeat in a Senate re-election campaign was due mainly to his being against prohibition.

His father, A O Stanley, Jr, worked for President Franklin Roosevelt in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. He joined the Navy during World War II and was aboard the USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea the day the Japanese successfully sank the ship.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Peripatetic Student

Some young people do not fit easily into the typical American educational system’s structure. A O Stanley, III was one of them. He was bright, inquisitive, intuitive, impatient, and did not understand the constraints school rules placed upon students.

After his parents divorced, he moved with his mother to Los Angeles only to move back to Virginia to live with his father who had remarried. He entered the Charlotte Hall Military Academy.  He became part of its boxing team there and its coach encouraged an all-protein diet, something that became permanent part of Stanley’s life. It was while at Charlotte Hall that students nicknamed him “Bear” because of his hairy chest.  The school expelled him after an alcohol-related incident that he had spearheaded.

He then entered the Washington-Lee High School  (now Washington-Liberty) in Arlington, VA, but left there to voluntarily enter St Elizabeth’s Hospital for where he was a patient for 15 months.

He returned to Washington-Lee, but due to a lack of credits, he was kept a Junior. Owsley stayed that year and quit.

Despite not having a high school diploma, he was able to enter  the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering. He didn’t like it much and left after a year.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Peripatetic Young Adult

He didn’t stay home for long before moving to Washington, DC to live with his paternal grandmother and he didn’t stay there long before moving to Los Angeles and getting a job at Rocketdyne where he stayed for about a year before joining the Air Force in June 1956. The Air Force assigned him to the Rocket Engine Test Facility’s salvage yard in the Mohave Desert.

The Navy discharged him after 18 months and he moved back to Los  Angeles and worked in TV and radio.

He also began to take classes at Los Angeles City College.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Russian Ballet Roulette

Around this time, Stanley saw Vladimir Vasiliev perform in the Bolshoi Ballet. He fell in love with both the language and the art. He took Russian classes as well as ballet. As much as he loved the training, he realized that he had started far too late to ever achieve the goal of becoming a company dancer. Keeping himself in top physical condition became a priority.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Marriage Divorce x 2

He married in 1961. Had a son Peter. Divorced and remarried. Had a daughter Nina. He divorced again and moved to Florida.

In January 1964 he moved back to California and entered University of California, Berkeley campus.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley


He moved into an apartment called the Brown Shoe with a group of Berkeley students. They were grass smokers and a Charles Perry lived there.  Perry would later write for Rolling Stone magazine under the pseudonym of Smokestack El Ropo.

Cannabis was OK for Stanley, but he preferred speed and sold morning glory seeds (for their hallucinogenic use) to purchase methamphetamine.

He dropped out of Berkeley and got a tech job with KGO-TV. His Brown Shoe roomies threw  out the manic Bear. Constant middle of the night roaring motorcycle rev ups were the final straws.

While looking for some accurate scales at Berkeley to weigh some speed, he met Melissa Cargill, a chemistry grad student. They befriended, he enticed her away from her boyfriend, and she moved in with him.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley


This Melissa Cargill picture is from a tweet. Follow the link above to read more.

Someone gave LSD to him. He liked it and wanted more, but could not find what he wanted. He decided, with the help of Cargill, he could make some.

He formed Bear Research Group, which enabled him to purchase the necessary chemicals under its business aegis. Stanley’s intensity, enthusiasm, and money combined with Cargill’s knowledge of chemistry, would trial and error them to an unequaled expertise.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

He Fought the Law

On February 21, 1965 police raided their lab under the assumption that Stanley was making speed, which was illegal. He was, but he’d hidden most of that evidence and the only thing the police took as evidence were some chemicals for LSD, which was not illegal.

After an expensive trial Stanley (financed from his speed sales) that “showed” what the police had seized was not speed, the court dismissed the case.

On March 30, 1965, 100 grams of lysergic monohydrate, one of the necessary ingredients for LSD,  arrived. By May, the first LSD went on sale.

Despite his canonized reputation as a chemist, Stanley never considered himself to be one. My father once observed, “If you can read, you can cook.” Stanley described himself as a great chef.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

The Kybalion 

Always attracted to esoteric knowledge, Stanley found The Kybalion, a book published in 1908. Among its many tenets was that all is mind and nothing can exist unless it is first thought. Physicality comes from a mental manifestation of that thing.

For someone who had discovered LSD, such an idea influenced him immensely.

Stanley also thought of alchemy. For most of us, when we hear alchemy we think of early scientists’ attempt to turn lead into gold, but the idea behind that latter description was the search for insight: the road from lead (ignorance) to gold (enlightenment).

Again, Stanley’s use of LSD fit hand in glove with such a perspective.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Merry Pranksters/Muir Beach

In October 1965, Owsley met Ken Kesey (both 30) and his Merry Pranksters. Neither was particularly impressed  with the other. Kesey already had a source for LSD, but Kesey and the Pranksters gradually found Owsley’s product superior and a relationship developed which meant that acid tests became part of Stanley’s life.

December 10, 1965: Stanley attended the Mime Troupe Benefit organized by Bill Graham at the Fillmore Auditorium. The Jefferson Airplane, the Great Society, John Handy Quintet, the Mystery Trend, the Gentlemen’s Band, the VIP’s and the Grateful Dead performed. It was the first time Stanley had heard the Dead,

Robert Greenfield quotes Stanley’s response to the Dead in the book Dark Star “In December ’65, I really heard the Grateful Dead for the first time. …I was standing in the hall and they were playing and they scared me to death. Jerry’s guitar terrified me. I had never before heard that much power. That much thought. That much emotion. I thought to myself, “These guys could be bigger than the Beatles.”

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

The next night, December 11, 1965 was the Muir Beach Lodge acid test, the third acid test, and the first for Stanley.  The combination of the Dead and taking his own acid abundantly lead to an historic relationship, but after Stanley had a trip that for many would have been their last.

Though he did not meet Stanley in person until January 8, 1966, Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, in his Searching for the Sound, described Stanley’s experience that night: He first showed up on our screens pushing a chair around the floor, in love with the screeching sound of plastic on linoleum, reminding me how I had once felt that the sound of an unlubricated truck transmission was singing to me. I didn’t meet him that night; after the Test was over, he crashed his car on the way home up Mt. Tam. As he related it to us later, he’d spun off the road and seen his whole life — all the incidents of a crowded lifetime in seconds — as a tape loop. Where the splice is, “That’s birth and death”, he swore.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Soundman/Financier/Trips Festival

On that January 8 Lesh mentioned to Owsley that the band needed a soundman. A door opened and Owsley rushed in to forge an historic relationship with the band that resulted not only his becoming their soundman, but their financial backer as well.

Mainly organized by Stewart Brand. the Trips Festival on January 21, 22, & 23 at the Longshoremen’s Hall at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco followed.

The advertisement for the festival said that it would be “…the FIRST gathering of its kind anywhere. the TRIP –or electronic performance –is a new medium of communication & entertainment. Stanley provided the LSD and the what became the biggest Acid Test of all.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

LA Tests

By February 1966, Stanley was part of the Dead and flew them to LA to participate in the continuing series of acid tests and to play other gigs as well.

When he was 18, Stanley had permanently injured his right ear while swimming, which lessened his ability to hear high-pitched sounds in that ear. He compensated for the loss by learning more about sound and learning electronics to do that.

His idea was record the Dead so they could self-evaluate their shows came out of that recording ability and many of Stanley’s recordings are outstanding ones even though recorded live–and often while very high.

While in LA the band did four acid tests:

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley


Their time together in LA was difficult for the Dead living with Stanley. Among the issues faced was his all-protein diet (Bob Weir reportedly became a vegetarian in reaction) and need to be in control.

Leaving LA, the Dead rented a mansion in Olompali State Historic Park, about 45 miles north of San Francisco while Stanley stayed mainly in Berkeley.

The Dead also broke with Stanley regarding his insistence on certain sound equipment that was so heavy to set up, break down, and transport, that it took hours to do. He exchanged the old equipment he’d paid for for a still high quality lighter sound system that he also paid for. Stanley’s insistence on quality sound permanently stuck with the Dead.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Media Fear and Loathing

By the spring of 1966, the media had discovered LSD and wrote stories that emphasized its danger to youth who the media already considered dangerous.

Life Magazine’s March 25 issue had an article: “The Exploding Threat of the Mind-Drug That Got Out of Hand.”

On May 31, 1966, California and Nevada passed legislation making illegal the manufacture, sale, and possession of LSD.

On October 6, 1966, the LA Times did a full-length feature on Stanley, referring to him as Mr LSD. Two days later, the San Francisco Chronicle reprinted the article.

The Dead got such a kick out of Stanley’s exposure (completely unwanted by Stanley himself) that they wrote the song Alice B Millionare.

Your yesterday’s are all left behind
There’s a brand new light in your mind
You don’t need a key to define
What’s written on the magic sign
There’s no time to cry

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley


Gathering of the Tribes

On January 14, 1967, Owsley supplied LSD for an even larger festival, The Gathering of the Tribes, a Human Be-In, held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

In April, Owsley visited Timothy Leary, the east coast figurehead of LSD, at the Hitchcock Estate in  Millbrook, NY. Stanley and Leary had met in LA in the spring of 1966, but Stanley wasn’t impressed. He left Millbrook in 1967 equally unimpressed after the lukewarm reception he received there.

On his way back to New York City, a State Police Officer, who had earlier given directions to Stanley, pulled over the car, searched it, “found” incriminating evidence, and arrested Stanley.

Thousands of dollars later, the case was tossed and the judge reprimanded the officer.

Monterey Pop Festival

June 16 – 18 was the Monterey Pop Festival. Though the Fantasy Fair the week before was the first rock festival, Monterey is far better known because of D.A. Pennebaker’s amazing film, its soundtrack, and the revelatory performances of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

Made at his new facility in Colorado, Stanley provided his “Monterey Purple” LSD to any who wanted it. Ravi Shankar adamantly refused and was upset with even Stanley’s offer. Lighting person Chip Monck had simply wanted something to keep him awake, but accidentally took some. Brian Jones, instructed by John Lennon, brought back a supply to the UK hidden in a camera lens. That LSD helped fuel the filming of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour.

A few days after the festival, Stanley convinced Jimi Hendrix to imbibe and then allow Stanley to record a solo performance. Afterwards, Jimi asked to see the cassette and summarily threw it into a fire. Lost forever. Jimi had a sense of  humor, though, and  he can be heard at the end of his live cover of the Beatles’ “Day-Tripper,” saying “Oh, Owsley, can you hear me now?

Summer of Love Fiasco

With the media’s exaggerated reports of drug use, hippie culture, and free love, San Francisco’s 1967 Summer of Love became instead a failed haven for runaways and a successful one for those looking to take advantage of them despite the altruistic attempts to help by such groups as the Diggers.

In fact, on October 6, the Diggers organized Death of Hippie, a mock funeral staged meant to signal the end of the Summer of Love.  Leaders carried a coffin down Haight Street and the crowd stopped for a “kneel-in” at the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

Lab Raid

To cap off Stanley’s increasingly tense year,  agents raided his Orinda lab on December 21.

The Salem Capitol Journal reportedFive persons, including a college dropout known as “king of acid” who allegedly earned a million dollars manufacturing and selling LSD, faced federal arraignment today on conspiracy charges.

Augustus Owsley Stanley III, 32, whose grandfather was a Kentucky governor, congressman and U.S. senator,  was arrested by agents of the Federal Bureau of Drug Abuse Thursday in a raid on a fashionable two-story home in this residential community 40 miles east of San Francisco. Stanley is known throughout the west as “king of acid.”

Pat Fuller, western director of the bureau, said the home contained “a very sophisticated chemical laboratory” and large quantities of chemicals.

Others seized were William A. Spires, 24, Robert D. Thomas, 29, Melissa Cargill, 25, and Rhona Helen Gissen, 26. They were booked on charges of “conspiracy to illegally manufacture a controlled drug.”

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley


Carousel Ballroom

With his LSD operation on hold, Stanley went back to being a soundman, this time at San Francisco’s Carousel Ballroom, a short-lived rock venue. (In July 1968, Bill Graham would takeover the Carousel and rename it the Fillmore West.)

Back with the Dead

In August 1968, Dan Healy, the Dead’s soundman, left the band and the Dead asked Owsley if he would like to come back. He accepted and also accepted the challenge of trying to dose Bill Graham. Graham was intensely suspicious of the Dead’s LSD pranks and took extreme measures (wrapping and taping tight his food to avoid a trick contact with the chemical, but on August 20 the Dead’s road crew successfully tainted the top of some soda cans that Graham unknowingly used.

Graham jammed with the band on a cowbell drummer Mickey Hart handed him for most of the show. Unfortunately, there is no known recording of Graham’s performance.

His arrest had forced more media exposure upon Stanley and reclusive to begin with, he decided to become Bear again. As a soundman, he also decided to help the band and himself by keeping a “sonic journal” of the shows, that is, recording them so he and the band could listen and learn how to sound better when playing live.

These and subsequent recordings by other sound recorders (notably Betty Cantor) as well as allowing the audience to record their shows have given the band an unequaled recorded canon.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

1969, 1970, 1971

Steal Your Face

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

In June 1969, Stanley also came up with a practical idea: marking the Dead’s equipment with an easily identifiable mark to facilitate work at gigs and make sure the expensive equipment he’d purchased for them stayed with them.

Bob Thomas drew it and the ‘Steal Your Face’ lightning skull was born.


Woodstock happened for the Dead and Bear, but their set is considered by most to be below par. Equipment problems, weather, and other concerns were present for all of the performers, but those issues affected the Dead’s performance more than others.

While the Dead were part of the impetus of December’s Altamont Speedway Free Festival,  they dropped out and only Bear was part of what Bill Graham would later call the “Pearl Harbor of Rock.”


On January 30, 1970,  a police raided at their hotel resulted in Bear and most of the Dead band being arrested. Luckily a good lawyer knew an ambitious district attorney and a $50,000 political contribution dropped the flimsy charges.

Unfortunately for Bear, though, on July 31, his bail was revoked and he went to jail. While their, Janis Joplin died on October 4.  She was important to Bear and among the many sonic journals he’d made was live recording of Big Brother at the Carousel in June 1968. The recording, Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 was not released until 2012.

He felt close to Joplin also because they shared a birthday as well as the birthdays of Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Lester, Robert E Lee, and Paul Cézanne.

Fatherhood in jail

While he was still in jail, girlfriend Rhoney Gussen gave birth to a son (Starfinder) on December 21, 1970. Three months later girlfriend Melissa Cargill gave birth to a daughter. Iridesca, who later changed her name to Redbird.

While imprisoned at the Terminal Island penitentiary in San Pedro, California, Bear was assigned to food services, an ideal placement for him as he could manage to continue his all-protein diet.

Dead in jail

The Dead did a concert in the Terminal Island library on  August 4, 1971.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley


Release and back with the Dead (sort of)

After being transferred to a low security facility in Lompoc, CA, Bear was released a year early (of his 3-year sentence) on July 15, 1972.

He returned to the Dead family, but in his absence the crew created their own routine that, not surprisingly, Bear disagreed with.

He tried to contribute in his persnickety manner, but he no longer had the seniority he once had.

He was able to add to his sonic journals from Dead performances as well as other band.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Wall of Sound

He did convince the band that he could create the best sounding PA system that anyone ever had. He did and it became known as the Wall of Sound.

The problem with this amazing sound system was the number of components, its size, and its weight. Assembled, it stood 40 feet high and 70 feet wide. There were 174 12″ and 288 5″ JBL speakers as well as 54 Electro Voice tweeters.

It required 26,000 watts to drive and that meant 55 McIntash MC-3000 amps. There were 9 different channels and 4-way crossover.

It cost $35,000 and weighed 75 tons.

Drummer Bill Kreutzman described the Wall as “Owsley’s brain in material form.

It first appeared on March 23, 1974 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, CA.

By August, the crew threatened to quit en masse because of the impossibility of setting up and breaking down the massive system.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Weed Farmer: 1974 – 1981

With the Dead taking a hiatus and the chances to manufacture LSD drastically curtailed, Bear turned to weed, though the amount he could grow vs the amount of money he could make by selling it was still not even close to his LSD profit margin.

In fact, he was nearly killed in an attempted robbery his crop.


The Dead invited him to do sound for a Seva Foundation benefit concert on April 25, 1981.

He assisted the band awhile, but in 1984 he began to have the same disturbing dream for several weeks. The dream centered around the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere and flooding. After researching and speaking with meteorologists, Bear came to the conclusion that there was going to be another Biblical deluge followed by a new ice age.

In 1984, he moved to Atherton, Australia with his family and some acquaintances and squatted on more than 100 acres. He set up buildings, a water collection system, and eventually succeeded in legally occupying the land despite initial resistance by Australian authorities.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Sheilah Manning

Owsley continued to come back to the United States and attend Dead concerts. Sheilah Manning worked for the Dead in their ticket office. As had regularly happened in his live, Owsley fell in love and doggedly pursued Sheilah. He sent her a round trip ticket to Australia. She did go, but it took four years of back and forth before she decided to stay. They would mary in 1995.

In the meantime, Australia told him that his tourist visa had expired and if he wanted to live there he needed to apply for residency. He applied as a “distinguished artist” and got friends to support the claim. Rolling Stones Keith Richards letter may have tipped the scales in Stanley’s favor.

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Health decline/World Tour

In 2000, he had heart issues (blockages), but an operation was able to remedy them. His excellent physical condition aided his recovery.

In 2004 Stanley was diagnosed with cancer in his neck. Intense radiation treatments saved his life, but permanently affected his speech and ability to chew and eat.

In 2007, John Meyer, an old friend and a very successful founder of Meyer Sound, sent Stanley two tickets for a round the world tour. Done in a typical Stanley manner and accompanied by an extremely patient Sheilah, most flights were missed and hotel exits late. Overall, he and Sheilah had a wonderful time though.

On March 11, 2011, he and Sheilah were on their way home after a long trip that had resulted in the good news that Owsley had reached the five-year cancer free goal of all cancer patients.

Owsley was driving, the road was wet, and the car hit an oil patch. The paramedics arrived, but Owsley and Sheilah were trapped in the car.

In the end, an uninjured Sheilah had to hear an insensitive paramedic coldly tell her, “He’s dead.”

A funeral was held on March 22. Among the many tributes was a eulogy by Dead lyricist Robert Hunter:

An Anthem For Bear

Augustus Owsley Stanley III
Being less a name than a designation
The bearer of the appellation
Became, of his own inspiration
The Bear

Thus he became and thus remained
And every old-timer worth his salt
Has a tale or two to tell regarding same
Of the time the Bear did this or that
Incredibly singular, utterly apposite
Action without apology or shame
To his own particular undying fame

Unreachable, unteachable
A flame in the light of his own magnificence
Reflected in deeds dwarfing the achievements
Of the run-of-the-mill creative sort
By a factor of ten or more

King of many things was he
Of mortal physiology, the soul’s chemistry
Geography, geology
Not to mention the applied physics of sound

Regarding which, deaf in one ear
He pronounced stereo to be a distraction
Affording only one perfect seat in the house
Upon which to work its elusive illusions
And setting himself to design
The world’s most powerful hi-fi system to prove it

One suspects that, had he but one leg
He’d have seen the advantage in that
And invented accordingly, ingeniously
And, it goes without saying, successfully

Lovable and loving in the abstract
Effusiveness was not his hole card
His judgement swift, certain and irrevocable
The last word was his personal property
For the few times he was wrong, there is no accounting

Was there ever a man who changed so many
While himself changing so little
A cardinal sign, were there ever one
Fixed like a bright white star in dark blue heaven

Save sentimental eulogies for lesser men
And leave it that he was a king of many things
Of perfected personal taste and detailed opinion
First and last a scientist
And propounder of a brand new species of reason

No bucolic heaven for such as Bear
Rather a Rock of Ages
From where an eagle in full flight might dare
A sudden detour into endless dawn
Sail on, dear brother Bear
Sail on

Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Fare Thee Well


Grateful Dead/Attics of My Life/July 5, 2015

In 2015, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead played two series of concerts, one in Santa Clara, CA and one in Chicago, IL. Owsley’s son Starfinder brought some of Bear’s ashes to the Chicago concerts on July 3, 4, and 5 and placed the container in the soundboard.

In the attics of my life
Full of cloudy dreams unreal
Full of tastes no tongue can know
And lights no eye can see
When there was no ear to hear

You sang to me.
I have spent my life
Seeking all that’s still unsung
Bent my ear to hear the tune
And closed my eyes to see
When there were no strings to play
You played to meIn the book of love’s own dream
Where all the print is blood
Where all the pages are my days
And all my lights grow old
When I had no wings to fly
You flew to meYou
to me, to me.

In the secret space of dreams
Where I dreaming lay amazed
When the secrets all are told
And the petals all unfold
When there was no dream of mine
You dreamed of me

lyrics by Robert Hunter
Augustus Bear Owsley Stanley

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

The 1960s made a complex tapestry: the various civil rights movements, the Vietnam War and it’s divisiveness, pop music’s evolution, environmental awareness, the space and arms races. feminism,  and drugs.

The United States had tried to prohibit beverage alcohol with the 18th Amendment only to need the 21st Amendment remove the prohibition.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

In 1938, chemist Albert Hoffman was working with lysergic acid trying to synthesize a chemical compound that would stimulate the respiratory and circulatory systems.

His 25th synthesis included  diethylamine, a derivative of ammonia. He labeled it LSD-25. His report read in part, “The new substance… aroused no special interest in our pharmacologists and physicians; testing was therefore discontinued.”

Five years later, decided to synthesize LSD-25 again. And on April 16, 1943, while working with the substance, he felt strange and had to go home.

Atlantic Magazine has an excellent article about Hoffman and LSD. Today we’re going to jump ahead a bit to two other men: Nick Sand and Tim Scully.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Nick Sand

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Nicholas Francis Hiskey was born on April 24, 1941. He was a “red diaper baby” as both parents were idealistic Communists during the 1930s. His father was Clarence  Hinskey, a chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project during WWII. His mother was Marcia Sand Hinskey.

In 1944, Army counter-intelligence agents observed Clarence Hinskey meeting with a Soviet agent named Arthur Adams. Hinskey was dismissed from the Manhattan Project.

Nick’s parents divorced and his mother took her maiden name and gave it to Nick as his last name as well.

He graduated Erasmus High School (Brooklyn, NY) in 1959. In June 1961, Sand married his childhood friend Maxine “Melly” Lee Solomon. They moved to Israel and worked on a kibbutz.

They returned to the United States and in the fall 1962, Sand started taking classes at Brooklyn College. While there he read about psychedelics and in December 1962 took mescaline sulfate for the first time. He also began using peyote as well as smoking marijuana.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand


Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Sand taught himself chemistry and during the summer of 1963 he set up a small lab in the attic of his mother’s house and learned how to make DMT—dimethyltryptamine—an hallucinogen used by injection. He eventually moved the lab to the basement to increase production

In the spring 1964, after chemical fire in basement, Nick moved his lab to a Brooklyn loft and called the business Bell Perfume Labs. He also developed a smokeable DMT.

Also at this time, Sand met Richard Albert (now, Ram Dass). Sand turned on Albert to DMT; Albert invited Sand to Millbrook, a farm in upstate New York, owned by Tommy and Billy Hitchcock, where Timothy Leary, Alpert, Ralph Metzner, and others had established an experimental psychedelic community.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Nick took LSD for the first time at Millbrook.

In 1965, a carboy of sulfuric acid in Nick’s lab spilled, dripped downstairs, and ruined fabric in the garment factory’s shop. Nick hastily relocated Bell Perfume Labs to a building filled with dental labs not far from the Brooklyn City Hall.

At the new location he continued to scale up his manufacturing of psychedelics; by this time he was using 72-liter flasks. Nick experimented with making LSD but wasn’t able to figure out how to purify it. His DMT wasn’t very pure at that stage either.

That same year, Nick’s marriage to Melly ended in 1965 because she was unable to convince Nick to give up his obsession with making psychedelics.

In 1966, Sand earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from Brooklyn College

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Tim Scully

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

On August 27, 1944, Robert “Tim” Scully was born and grew up grew up in Pleasant Hill near San Francisco.

Scully was a precocious student.  In eighth grade he won honorable mention in the 1958 Bay Area Science Fair for designing and building a small computer. He spent summers working at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory on physics problems.

In his junior year of high school, Scully completed a small linear accelerator in the school science lab (he was trying to make gold atoms from mercury)

Scully skipped his senior year of high school and went directly to U.C. Berkeley majoring in mathematical physics. In 1964, after two years at Berkeley, Scully took a leave of absence because his services as an electronic design consultant were in high demand.

Tim Scully first took LSD on April 15, 1965. He believed at the time that, “ if everyone shared the experience of oneness, the world might be saved from nuclear destruction, which otherwise seemed likely.”


Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

In late 1965, Scully met Stanley “Bear” Owsley. It was a few weeks before the Trips Festival [January 21, 22, & 23, 1966].

Owsley took  Scully as his apprentice and they pursued their mutual interest in electronics and psychedelic synthesis.

July 1966:  Owsley rented a house in Point Richmond, California and Owsley and Melissa Cargill (Owsley’s girlfriend who was a skilled chemist) set up a lab in the basement.

Scully worked there as Owsley’s apprentice. Owsley had developed a method of LSD synthesis which left the LSD 99.9% pure. The Point Richmond lab turned out over 300,000 tablets (270 micrograms each) of LSD they dubbed “White Lightning”.

Childhood friend Donald R Douglas was Scully’s lab assistant.

Back East

In 1965 Millbrook created the Original Kleptonian Neo-American Church, whose clergy members, known as Boo Hoos, administered sacraments in the form of psychedelic drugs.

In September 1966, Timothy Leary formed the League for Spiritual Discovery (Advocates the free pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and religious practice by all persons, including those who use entheogenic substances as a Sacrament) as a religion that incorporated psychedelics drugs as sacraments.

Sometime after that he wrote a letter appointing Nick Sand as alchemist for the League for Spiritual Discovery and instructing law enforcement officials not to impede his work.

Sand began relationship with Jill Henry who was also a part of the Millbrook group.

Nick made a trip to California and  visited Owsley Stanley’s Point Richmond Lab. Owsley suggested to Sand that he should move to California.

LSD illegal

October 6, 1966:  LSD became illegal in California. Owsley and Scully closed CA lab and decided to set up a new lab in Colorado. Scully’s friend Donald Douglas remained in CA to help set up a tableting operation for future supply in Orinda, CA.

December 8, 1966: DEA agent Aiden Hendrix reported that Donald Douglass had purchased bulk amounts of chemicals used for illicit drug making.

By early 1967, Scully had set up the new lab in the basement of a house across the street from the Denver zoo. He and Owsley worked there together, but eventually Owsley returned to CA for tableting of the LSD.

Authorities arrested Owsley on December 21, 1967. Tim Scully moved the lab to a different house in Denver after the arrest.

Owsley will be found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison.

Tim Scully had first met William “Billy” Mellon Hitchcock, grandson of William Larimer Mellon and great-great-grandson of Thomas Mellon, through Owsley in April 1967. Hitchcock loaned Scully $12,000 for the second Denver lab in 1968.

Sand West

February 1967: interested in the synthesizing of LSD, Sand and David Mantell began dismantling Bell Perfume Labs in preparation of moving west. In March, the two began driving across the country so to set up the lab in California.

They failed to stop at a weighing station in Dinosaur, Colorado; and when Nick refused to pay a fine to the arresting officer, both men were jailed.

April 1967: a search of the truck discovered drugs and laboratory equipment. Authorities charged both with federal controlled substance offenses. After many months of legal maneuvering, the charges against them were dropped because the search of their truck was eventually found to have been illegal.

Free on bail, Nick and David finally made their way to California where Bear Owsley asked Tim Scully to teach Nick how to make DOM 2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine (DOM), a still-legal psychedelic known as “STP” on the street, so that Nick could get back on his feet after his Colorado bust.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand
Jill Henry

Nick traveled back to Millbrook, where he convinced Jill Henry to come to California with him. Initially, they lived on David Mantell’s ranch near Cloverdale, California.

By the end of 1967, Nick and David were using a surplus 200-gallon stainless steel soup kettle as a reaction vessel for making larger batches of STP. They also made smaller batches of DMT and methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), a psychedelic/empathogen similar to MDMA (Ecstasy).

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Sand Scully

In January of 1968, Nick Sand and Tim Scully searched together for European sources of lysergic acid or ergot alkaloids as raw material for making LSD. Over the next six months they jointly acquired over a kilogram of lysergic acid and a smaller quantity of ergotamine tartrate.

Alice Einhorn, a childhood friend of Sand, helped smuggle the raw materials into the US: UK > Bahamas > Miami > CA.

On June 24, 1968. while in Europe searching for the precursor chemicals, Denver police discovered the second lab. Scully’s assistants were arrested and an arrest warrant for Scully was issued.

Donald Douglas decided at that point to get out of the drug business.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

California again

Still needing the know how, Nick Sand had agreed to finance a new lab for making LSD in return for Tim Scully teaching him the process, As part of their agreement, Tim insisted that any LSD they made would be distributed through The Brotherhood of Eternal Love

Nick Sand also agreed to handle the tableting of their product.

In December 1968 Nick Sand  purchased a farmhouse in Windsor, California where he and Tim Scully set up a large LSD lab.

Ultimately, this lab produced well over a kilo (more than four million 300 μg doses) of very pure LSD.

Nick Sand tableted this material as small orange pills that eventually became known as Orange Sunshine.  Mike Randell of the Brotherhood claims to have come up w the name Orange Sunshine.

Financial backer Billy Hitchcock asked if he could join the group in California. Scully and Sand approved.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

1969 – 1972

May 26, 1969, authorities arrested Tim Scully in California for the 1968 Denver lab. He decided to get out of the LSD business.

Late May of 1969, Nick closed the Windsor lab but that fall set up the Tekton Development Company in San Francisco to gather and construct  equipment for his next laboratory.

In October 1971, the Narcotics Traffickers Program had selected Nick Sand as a target for investigation by a joint federal narcotics and tax task force.

October 26, 1971 Scully’s Denver case dismissed due to illegal/warrentless entry.

In 1972 Jill Henry left the LSD operations and Sands.

Despite Billy Hitchcock’s urging to get out of the business, in 1972, Nick (using the alias Leland Jordan) and Judy Shaughnessy went on to set up a Signet Research and Development in downtown St. Louis, and a smaller lab in the basement of their rented house in Fenton, Missouri, where they made substantial amounts (millions of doses) of LSD and other psychedelics.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

August 5, 1972, 16 major Brotherhood figures were arrested along with 37 others in coordinated raids in Hawaii, Oregon, and numerous Southern California locations.

Toward the end of 1972, Nick Sand went on vacation. While away, police entered the St Louis house to check about a water leak and discovered the lab.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Trials and appeals

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

In early 1973 federal authorities threatened Billy Hitchcock with 24 years in prison for tax evasion if he didn’t help the government convict the prime movers of the LSD cartel. Billy became an indicted co-conspirator by providing evidence and testifying against Tim Scully and Nick Sand.

In April 1973, Scully and Sand were both indicted. Scully’s defense was that he was producing ALD-52, which was legal, and not the controlled substance LSD-25.

November 5, 1973: trial began and on January 30, 1974, both Sand and Tim Scully were found guilty on multiple charges.

March 8, 1974, Judge Samuel Conti sentenced Sand  to 15 and Scully to 20 years. Nick was eventually sent to McNeil Island penitentiary to begin serving his 15-year sentence. (Conti would also be the judge in the Sarah Jane Moore trial the following year.)

Sand’s girlfriend snuck drugs into the prison and Sand had LSD sessions in his cell. Cellmate Scully did not participate, but worked in library where he read up on bail appeals.

Tim Scully won an appeal for bail reduction and Nick was able to ride on his coattails. Nick was released on appeal bond August 21, 1974.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Scully Back In

Scully’s appeals ran out in late 1976, so he sold his stock in his company and began serving prison time in early 1977.

June 17, 1979:  while still in prison, Scully received a Ph.D. in psychology from the regionally accredited Humanistic Psychology Institute.

The Hour, a Norwalk, CT, newspaper reported that the Washington State Jaycees had chosen Scully as its Outstanding Young Man of the Year based on his development (while still in prison) of a computer device that enabled “a cerebral palsy victim to communicate with the rest of the world.”

Scully had first met the person while free on bail pending his sentencing.

Following the reduction of his sentence to ten years, he was released from prison on parole in August 1979.

Sand on the run

Sand’s St Louis charges were eventually dropped (lack of a search warrant). but on September 11, 1976, Nick got word that his appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court was about to be denied.

He chose to become a fugitive and managed to elude federal surveillance with the help of Nancy Pinney [had met her in 1969] as his getaway driver. He threw away his wallet and his old ID as Nick Sand, eventually made his way to Canada, carrying a fishing pole to mislead Canada customs.

He entered Canada under the assumed name Ted Parody — officially Theodore Edward Parody III. He settled in the town of Lumby, in British Columbia, and began growing psilocybin mushrooms as a cash crop.

1981. After spending three years in India, Sands returned to Canada and constructed an LSD lab in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Sand had located a source of ergotamine tartrate in India and made massive amounts of LSD during the years he lived there. He also developed methods to hydroponically grow marijuana.

September 26, 1996, “Ted Parody” was arrested at his lab with 5 kg of DMT, 3.5 kg of MDMA, 5 kg of MDA, 43 grams of LSD and 2.5 kilos of ergotamine tartrate.

By December of 1996, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police realized that the man they’d arrested was Nick Sand, who had been a fugitive for 20 years.

In February of 1998, Nick pled guilty to manufacturing drugs in Canada. He was given a nine-year sentence, which the Canadian authorities agreed to let run concurrently with his US sentence.

Nick’s lawyer eventually made a deal with the American authorities to allow him to be transported to the United States in return for credit for time served in Canada toward his 15-year American sentence.

In February of 1998, Nick pled guilty to manufacturing drugs in Canada. He was given a nine-year sentence, which the Canadian authorities agreed to let run concurrently with his US sentence. Nick’s lawyer eventually made a deal with the American authorities to allow him to be transported to the United States in return for credit for time served in Canada toward his 15-year American sentence.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

Sands back in

October 15, 1998: in San Francisco, Sands was tried for bail jumping and found guilty by Judge Conti, the same judge who had presided over the 1974 trial!

January 22, 1999: Conti sentenced Sand to an additional consecutive five-year term.

December 22, 2000:  Nick was released to a halfway house after winning an appeal that overturned his conviction for bail jumping because he was never given a specific date to report to the court.

Nick’s parole was terminated in 2005 and he was able to travel internationally again.

Sunshine Makers Scully Sand

Post Script

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

During 2013 and 2014, Sands and Scully participated in interviews with Cosmo Feilding Mellen; these were used in the 2017 documentary The Sunshine Makers.

Nick was talking about writing a memoir shortly before he died at his home in Lagunitas, California on April 24, 2017.

Owsley Stanley died after a car accident in Australia on March 12, 2011. Owsley’s  family and some of his close friends created The Owsley Stanley Foundation. It was incorporated on August 25, 2011 as a  non-profit dedicated to fostering diverse charitable, artistic, musical, and scientific endeavors for the public benefit.

Since his release from prison, Tim Scully has done many things: lectured in parapsychology at John F Kennedy University, been a research assistant in psychcophysiology  at the University of California, San Francisco, founded Pacific Bionic Systems (reformed in 1980 as Mendocino Microcomputers,  consulted the Esalen Institute and the Children’s Television Workshop on database management and computer games. He has published articles on biofeedback and technical computer topics.

He is now researching a book on the underground history of LSD.

Sunshine Synthesizers Scully Sand

December 18 Music et al

December 18 Music et al

Lion Sleeps Tonight

December 18, 1961 – January 12, 1962: a South African song from the 1920s, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens #1 Billboard Hot 100.

Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin wrote the original song, “Mbube” (Zulu: lion) in the 1920s. Many, including the Weavers, Jimmy Dorsey, Miriam Makeba and the Kingston Trio, covered the song before the Tokens’ success.

December 18 Music et al

Blue Hawaii

December 18, 1961 –  May 4, 1962 – Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii movie soundtrack the Billboard #1 album.

Blue Hawaii was the fourteenth album by Elvis. RCA had released it on October 20, 1961. It is a soundtrack for Presley’s film of the same name. The album spent 20 weeks at the number one slot and 39 weeks in the Top 10 on Billboards Top Pop LPs chart. (see April 21, 1962)

December 18 Music et al

I Want To Hold Your Hand

December 17, 1963: radio DJ Carroll James at Washington. D.C. station WWDC, played a U.K. copy of  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on the radio after a 15-year-old girl from Silver Spring, MD wrote to him requesting Beatles music after seeing the CBS-news segment.  James Carroll became the first disc jockey to broadcast a Beatles record on American radio. He had obtained the record from his stewardess girlfriend, who brought the single back from the UK. Due to listener demand, the song was played daily, every hour.


The next day, Capitol Records threatened to sue WWDC to stop playing song, but then reversed itself and decided to rush-release “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Capital had previously scheduled the release for  January 13, 1964.  Capital cancelled Christmas breaks and made sure that pressing plants and staff could do an earlier release.

Capital succeeded and released the  song on December 26!  (next Beatles, see Dec 23)

Another Beatles Christmas Record

December 18, 1964, The Beatles: “Another Beatles Christmas Record” issued to UK fan club members.

They sing “Jingle Bells” which is followed by individual messages to the fans. John mocks the prepared statement.

When Paul asks John about it, John responds “No it’s somebody’s bad hand-wroter.” The conversation continues and the disc finishes with them briefly singing “Oh Can You Wash Your Father’s Shirt?”

American fans did not receive Another Beatles’ Christmas Record . They got an edited version of  the 1963 Beatle Christmas message. (next Beatles, see Dec 26)

December 18 Music et al


Acid Test

December 18, 1965: Big Beat Acid Test, The Big Beat Club, Palo Alto. The  poster/announcement for the event came in three colors: white, red, and yellow. The artists designed it to be cut in half (look at the “dotted” line down the middle) and the top of the right half attached to the bottom of the left.

December 18 Music et al

The recently re-named Grateful Dead were there. Tom Wolfe wrote about it in Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test , Owsley Stanley introduced manager Rock Scully to the Grateful Dead, and  Hugh Romney–known today as Wavy Gravy–first joined the festivities.

The Big Beat was the San Francisco Peninsula’s first “rock” club. Yvonne Modica owned it.

Timothy Leary

In 1966: Timothy Leary founded the League of Spiritual Development with LSD as the sacrament. (see Jan 8)

December 18 Music et al

The Family Way

December 18, 1966: with music by Paul McCartney, “The Family Way” movie premiered.

John Boulting produced the film. Roy Boulting directed it. John Mills and his daughter Hayley Mills starred. (NYT review) (next Beatles, see March 18, 1967; Family Way, see Jan 6, 1967)

December 18 Music et al