Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bear -R.I.P.

Owsley "Bear" Stanley Dies in Car Accident

Longtime Grateful Dead confidant Owsley “Bear” Stanley died in a car crash near his home in Australia earlier today. Though his exact age was not known, Stanley was believed to be 75.

Stanley first met the members of the Grateful Dead at an acid test in San Francisco in 1966. He held many roles in the band’s organization over the years, including manager, financier, sound designer and recording engineer. He designed the group’s signature Wall of Sound system and co-designed its iconic lightning bolt/skull logo with artist Bob Thomas. Though Stanley and Thomas originally created the logo in 1969, the insignia first entered the public consciousness when it appeared on the band’s 1973 live album History of the Grateful Dead, Volume 1: Bear’s Choice, a tribute to the recently deceased Grateful Dead keyboardist/vocalist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. The album also popularized another Dead logo inspired by Stanley: the psychedelic dancing bear. The dancing part of the logo’s design is a reference to his brief stint as a professional ballet dancer in the ’50s and members of Stanley’s family coined his Bear part of his nickname when he started growing body hair at a young age.

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