Biography: ‘Bear: The Life and Times Of Augustus Owsley Stanley III’

I’m looking forward to a new biography due to release on November 15, 2016. ‘Bear: The Life and Times Of Augustus Owsley Stanley III’  written by Robert Greenfield, a music author/journalist I deeply respect.

First-hand reflections from Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia are included in the book which comes from the author of Dark Star: An Oral History Of Jerry Garcia. Greenfield also penned Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones and collaborated with impresario Bill Graham on Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out.

Augustus Owsley Stanley III, better known by his nickname, Bear, was one of the most iconic figures in the cultural revolution that changed both America and the world during the 1960s.

Owsley’s high-octane rocket fuel enabled Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters to put on the Acid Tests. It also powered much of what happened on stage at Monterey Pop. Owsley turned on Pete Townshend of The Who and Jimi Hendrix. The shipment of LSD that Owsley sent John Lennon resulted in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour album and film.

Convinced that the Grateful Dead were destined to become the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, Owsley provided the money that kept them going during their early days. As their longtime soundman, he then faithfully recorded many of the Dead’s greatest live performances and designed the massive space age system that came to be known as the Wall of Sound.

 

Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Landing

The first inkling I read of what Phil Lesh has been planning to accomplish with Terrapin Landing is contained in Phil’s fond remembrances about Owlsey “Bear” Stanley’s passing. Phil wrote this paragraph in his tribute to Bear, entitled “A Beautiful Mind“.

He never gave up his quest for pushing the limits of whatever he was working on. We had just been discussing his concept of point-source sound reinforcement in relation to a new project of mine, and his vision incorporated the latest developments in technology and perceptual research.

That sentence intrigued me as Bear passed on to Phil Lesh some of his unique ideas for next generation sound. I tried to figure out how Phil Lesh intends to collaborate with Bear in producing next generation sound.

I next learned in the Rolling Stone article, The Dead Recall the Colorful Life of LSD Pioneer Owsley Stanley more about what Phil Lesh was planning with his proposed venue, in Marin County, named Terrapin Landing.

Phil Lesh said: “He kept his enthusiasm for sound design all the way through. Just two weeks ago we were discussing a sound system for a venue I’m going to open in Marin County, Terrapin Landing. Hopefully we’ll be using monitors with Bear’s design.”

From Jambands.com, 3/30/2011: Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Landing

Before launching Furthur’s official message board, Phil Lesh and his wife Jill spent some time on the Grateful Dead fan sites answering questions. When one fan asked about the possibility of Railroad Earth opening some shows, Lesh hinted that he hoped to host the band at a venue he planned to open on the West Coast.

Lesh hit the boards again yesterday and revealed that he plans to open a venue called Terrapin Landing in the Marin County section of California. In an email to Relix/Jambands.com, Lesh’s publicist confirmed the bassist’s comments and his plans to open a the performance space. According to Lesh’s original post, he is “taking the first steps to make a long time dream- a permanent musical home- come true. We are purchasing a building in Marin, and plan on remodeling it to feel like an old barn; we ‘re calling it Terrapin Landing. We will continue with Furthur while making music at Terrapin Landing when we are at home.” Lesh goes on to explain:

The music will be varied, featuring:

  • Phil Lesh & Friends (continuing the tradition of revolving lineups, including old as well as new friends)
  • West Coast Rambles, based on (and blessed by) Levon Helm’s historic Rambles
  • Album night- we pick a favorite album or two to play live
  • Telstar night- we put together a band for free form improvisation
  • Sing-alongs to monthly Sunday morning gospel music
  • Trivia nights
  • Monthly big band night
  • Seminars with local musicians and artists
  • Our goal is to create a vibrant community gathering place: beautiful, comfortable, welcoming – for members of the community to commingle and enjoy good music.

I’m adding Marin County and Terrapin Landing to my bucket list. More to follow, Bear lives on 😉

More info on Hidden Track:  http://goo.gl/ItIiC

Owsley “Bear” Stanley 1935-2011

I was upset to learn of Owsley “Bear” Stanley‘s untimely death last night. I had just come home from Brooklyn, logged into Facebook when I picked up the R.I.P. Bear discussion threads taking place with Sam Cutler and Bill Kreutzmann.

It hit me like a thunderbolt…. sigh…

As one of many extended Dead family members my heart goes out to Bear’s family, Sam Cutler, the members of the Grateful Dead and all who knew him in San Francisco, Australia and elsewhere.

My purpose in writing this blog post today is to pay tribute to Owsley “Bear” Stanley. He made significant contributions to our counter-culture as a chemist, genius sound engineer, band manager, and music archivist.

I just read Bob Weir and Phil Lesh‘s thoughts about Bear and wanted to share them with you from dead.net

Bob Weir wrote:

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…

-Bob Weir

From Phil Lesh:

A Beautiful Mind

I received a text in the middle of last night that Bear Stanley has died in a car accident in Australia. Bear, for me, was a true kindred spirit; when we first met, it was as if I had met a long-lost brother from another lifetime. I am heartbroken and devastated at his passing.

He was a friend, a brother, an inspiration, and our patron at the very beginning of our creative lives. We owe him more than what can be counted or added up- his was a mind that refused to accept limits, and he reinforced in us that striving for the infinite, the refusal to accept the status quo, that has informed so much of our work.

He never gave up his quest for pushing the limits of whatever he was working on. We had just been discussing his concept of point-source sound reinforcement in relation to a new project of mine, and his vision incorporated the latest developments in technology and perceptual research.

My heart goes out to his family, for whom he had such love and pride- his wife Sheilah, his children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren- who have lost their patriarch.

A mind like Bear’s appears very rarely, and it’s been my privilege and honor to have known and loved two such minds- Jerry and Bear. I always laugh when I think about what Jerry once said about Bear: There’s nothing wrong with Bear that several billion fewer brain cells wouldn’t fix.

I am eternally grateful for all of the gifts that Bear brought to the scene and to the music.

Fare you well; I love you more than words can tell.

– Phil

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