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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