Owsley "Bear" Stanley - 1935-2011
I met Owsley at the age of eighteen. I had just left home, having run off with a Rock&Roll band. Bear, as we knew him, was one of my all-time biggest influences. Always, when I think of him, I think of the endless stuff he taught me or somehow made me realize, all stuff that I've been able to use to the benefit of countless people who probably don't know much about him or how deeply he influenced me and the rest of the band. Most important was the approach he taught me and us: Always be open and engaging - always critical and questioning, but not negatively so much as playfully. He taught me to take myself and my interests out of the picture and work with the subject under consideration so that the best deductions or conclusions are made. I guess this means working from the point of view of the higher self, though that term never came up; it was always just assumed...
The passing of an era with Bear leaving the planet. I met him a few times years ago. He had his wearable cast art... It is really intense live! I carved guitars at Alembic in the 1980s & view Owsley as a leader of a family... A really weird hodgepodge of artists, engineers, and waifs... The last time I saw Him was backstage at New Year's EVE in Oakland, 1990. He was standing "chicken shack" (back to back) with Phil watching all the familiar strangeness. I learned more from Bear than from any university. I'll see you on the other side, after you get the sound fixed!
Love to you & your family...
As i'm an avid reader, my favourite Bear story comes from Dennis McNalley's What a Long Strange Trip. In 1977 Bear gave Mickey Hart a Damaru, a Tibetan drum made from a human skull. Mickey subsequently became ill and suspected the drum.. Phil Lesh suggested returning it to the Tibetans and when they did, a lama told them the drum could wake the dead and that great care was needed in handling the drum. Mickey was then involved in a car crash so mabey he hadn't taken enough care. It was his passenger Rhonda Jensen who saved him by getting help.
I was sad to hear of Bear's passing which was all but ignored due to events in Japan. I'll finish by quoting Robert G. Ingersall who in 1881 said, "In nature there are neither rewards or punishments - there are consequences. Andy Aitken (Scotland)
Bear has gone furthur.
Thanks for everything.
At one Red Rocks show my friend came back to the seats and said he just met Owsley selling belt buckles he made, down by the front. I was too intimidated by his aura to go down. Another time we were hiking, my friend said "Sunset by God, colors by Owsley". Things would never have been the same without Bear.
I really enjoyed our correspondence a few years back.
Keep on Truckin', my friend...
" a rose in the wheel"
☞ a rose that hung upon the wheel / was laughing from the really real
the wind laughed back and thunder spoke
majestic king it's time to toke
peaceful dreams that never end /reborn to love and love and then
what once was grace, now guides your pen / may heaven find a way my friend
may heaven find your way again ☜
Bear is what i think of as a true American Hero.
He broke new ground, fearlessly looking into the truth as he perceived it and like a true artist, questioning and challenging assumptions about himself and the world around him. This is the true American spirit. Brave, questing for knowledge, and down to earth. A true genius but not self-inflated to believe everyone should bow down to him. No one provided him with a role to play or steps to take to achieve what he did. He blazed a trail himself through the lonely world, bringing joy, enlightenment and peace with him and to all of us!. Imagine a world without Bear or the Grateful Dead! Unimaginable! Come on Obama, let's remember him for who he was: One of the main figures in modern American culture and one of the most influential post WWII characters in world history. he should be on a stamp, have a national holiday and have streets named after him!
Most Deadheads and concert goers generally think of Bear as an LSD chemist. But he did more. Way more. What they either forget, or are unaware of, is that Bear is directly responsible for the way we hear high quality PA sound at concerts today. Bear along with others set out on a journey to make the best PA system available using the technology available to them at the time. And most of the time, the gear they needed was not available so they custom made what they needed along with help from Alembic. We owe so much to Bear, not just for his PA research but his unparalleld, perfect sounding live tapes he made that all future generations can enjoy. Next time you are at a concert, just listen to the music and take a moment to think of how much of a role Bear played back in the day in perfecting live sound that today modern engineers take for granted. We will miss you, Bear. May you rest in peace!
Did not know him....but he was legendary in the 1960's, when I was a teenager. My first acid trip was on Owsley "Yellow Sunshine" in 1968 at Lake Tahoe. It is ingraved in my mind. I assume it was Owsley's product. It was more than pleasant. Don't know if he was a "reluctent icon" like Jerry, but he affected many people, mostly for the positive.