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Counterculture icon Owsley “Bear” Stanley, who worked with The Grateful Dead, died in a car crash in Australia, his family said Monday. He was 76.
Stanley, an accomplished sound engineer, famously inspired the band’s dancing bear logo which was featured on the back of Volkswagen buses for decades.
He also was at the forefront of the Californian drug culture, once producing an estimated pound of pure LSD — enough for about 5 million trips. (Soon after, he was nicknamed “Owsley,” a popular slang term for the drug.)
Though he served time behind bars, he always claimed his drug helped society. In a rare 2007 interview, he told the San Francisco Chronicle: “I wound up doing time for something I should have been rewarded for. What I did was a community service, the way I look at it.”
Stanley has been celebrated in song by both the Dead and Jimi Hendrix.
In a statement, longtime friend Sam Cutler said, “His death is grievous loss to his family and the tens of thousands of people from the ’60s who were influenced by his work with the Grateful Dead.”
Stanley is survived by his wife, Shiela, four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
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