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Turn on, tune in and listen to Timothy Leary’s psychedelic jam with Jimi Hendrix on bass

The cover for You Can Be Anything This Time Around, 1970
If you just got a contact high after reading the title of this post, then congratulations. Take two tabs of acid and call me in the morning! But only after you’ve listened to the three tracks from Harvard psychologist and drug guru Timothy Leary’s album (which was recorded in 1968), You Can Be Anyone This Time Around.
Timothy Leary and Jimi Hendrix
Timothy Leary and his bass player

Leary recorded the album, in part as a way to raise cash to fund his ill-fated run for Governor of California against the then incumbent, GOP golden god, Ronald Reagan. His campaign slogan was “Come together, join the party” and his campaign song was supposed to be, “Come Together,” which was conceived specifically with Leary’s political aspirations in mind by John Lennon.

Learys and Lennons
Sadly, after Leary was arrested on December 26th, 1968 for the possession of two pot roaches (for which he was given a ten-year prison sentence, with another ten-year sentence tacked on to that due to a previous arrest in 1965, let that one sink in), his campaign went up in well, smoke.
Timothy Leary's prison mugshot, 1970
Leary’s prison mugshot
Lucky for us, the 45-minute long, three-track record (which was allegedly recorded in one session that went on until the early morning hours at the Record Plant in New York City) that includes musical contributions not only from Hendrix (on bass guitar no less) but also Stephen Stills, drummer Buddy Miles, and John Sebastian, founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful, did see the light of day. Unlike Leary’s political career. 

Historically speaking, it’s one of the very first records to use “samples.” Sonic snatches from the catalogs of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and sitar maestro, Ravi Shankar round out the album’s unique “sound.” As if all that isn’t cool enough when it comes to rock and roll mythology—the record is actually a great listen…

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‘Seven Up’: The mind-expanding Krautrock album Timothy Leary made on the run from the law

The tale of acid sage Dr. Timothy Leary’s prison escape and subsequent exile is among the most amusing stories in the annals of drug culture lore—though sentenced to an absurd twenty years for utterly petty offenses including possession of a couple of roaches, Leary was able to game the prison system: as a reputable Harvard psychologist, it happened that he himself had designed the psychological examinations he was given by prison administrators to determine his security and work situations. He got himself assigned to a cushy gardening job in a minimum security facility, from which he handily escaped, issuing an outlandish revolutionary screed to taunt authorities shortly after he fled. Via a series of sneaks involving the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, an arms dealer, and a socialite whom he eventually married (how has this not been a TV mini-series yet? Get on this, Netflix…) Leary ended up in Switzerland, where he met with the German Kosmiche band Ash Ra Tempel, with whom he recorded the album Seven Up.

Formed by musicians from Eruption and Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel mostly shunned structured songs in favor of lengthy and often downright fierce improvisations. Their albums typically featured two side-length compositions, a feral freakout on side one, and a more ambient, electronics-driven suite on the flip, presumably to help sand the edges off from side one. From Peter Buckley’s Rough Guide Rock:

Manuel Göttsching (guitar) and Hartmut Enke (bass) had played together in various psychedelic blues and pop combos for a few years before they formed Ash Ra Tempel in August 1970 with drummer/keyboardist Klaus Schultz, who had just left Tangerine Dream. The most cosmic of the Krautrock bands, Ash Ra Tempel became legendary for their wild improvisational free-form live jams, influenced by Pink Floyd but eschewing songs to take the concept of space-rock much further, enhanced by both Schultz’s and Gottsching’s interest in experimental electronic music.

Schultz soon left for a solo career but several other musicians passed through the group’s revolving door, and with some of them Göttsching and Enke recorded the amazing Schwingungen (1972). With the idea of recording the ultimate psychedelic trip, Ohr label-head Rolf Kaiser next took Ash Ra Tempel to Switzerland to party endlessly and to record the album Seven Up with LSD guru Timothy Leary, who was living there in exile. The results were a more song-orientated first section, with Leary singing, followed by several conventional rock songs melded into a single track divided by spacey electronic segues.

More after the jump…

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Gov. Jerry Brown and Dr. Timothy Leary talk toad-licking
08:15 am


Timothy Leary
Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown stayed busy during the 28-year interval between his two stints as California’s governor: he made a bid for the presidency, got elected mayor of Oakland, and became the state’s attorney general. Before he was mayor, he also founded a commune in Oakland called We The People. The house at 200 Harrison Street doubled as a salon; Brown envisioned it as a place for “philosophers, artists and activists to discuss and plan ways to work change.” On weekdays in the mid-90s, he broadcast a talk show (also called “We The People”) from the commune over the Bay Area’s Pacifica station, KPFA.

On one afternoon in October 1995, Brown’s guest was Dr. Timothy Leary. Leary owed his host a favor. Two decades earlier, Leary, having already escaped prison once with the help of the Weather Underground, was doing hard time in Folsom State Prison, where he was looking at a lo-o-ong sentence (95 years, says Wikipedia). In 1975, Brown’s first year as governor, he pardoned Leary. (If you think this means Brown is some kind of hippie with an enlightened attitude to drug policy, guess again; he’s actually been a wiener on this issue.) After Leary’s federal parole was granted the following year, he was a free man. He was arrested in Texas for smoking a cigarette in protest of no-smoking rules in 1994, but he stayed out of the slams for the rest of his life. I’d think he must have had warm feelings about Jerry Brown.

Leary had sought the office of governor in California’s 1970 election. He planned to take on the incumbent, Ronald Reagan, armed with a campaign song by John Lennon. Sadly, what might have been one of the most entertaining gubernatorial campaigns in American history was cut short by Leary’s incarceration some ten months before the election. Wise elders, why didn’t you send Reagan up the river instead?

In this wide-ranging half-hour conversation, the two lapsed Catholics do not discuss the pardon or their mutual interest in the governorship, but Brown does bring up the subject of toad-licking when a caller observes that many psychedelic compounds appear in nature. Even if you have no interest in any of the above, you will certainly enjoy hearing California’s current governor exclaim: “You can SUCK THOSE FROGS that give you the good high! Did you read about them?”

H/T Psychedelic Salon


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Dr. Timothy Leary, MTV VJ
08:55 am


Timothy Leary

In 1987, Dr. Timothy Leary paid a visit to MTV to be a guest VJ. He had a few more IQ points than some of their regular contributors. It’s a treat to hear him set up the video for Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”:

Now this is a real heavy one—I don’t know what this means. It has something to do with the third world and the exploitation by the first world and our hopes that the third world will get behind the camera and start becoming part of the cybernetic age. I don’t know. Watch it and make up your own mind. It’s a good tune.

Leary also talks about playing percussion on “Give Peace A Chance,” shows off some early CGI in the video for “Hard Woman” from Mick Jagger’s unloved She’s the Boss, and shares his thoughts on Nancy Reagan’s drug policy. It ends with a spectacular Ike and Tina Turner rendition of “Proud Mary” that’s worth sticking around for.

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Happy Birthday Timothy Leary, High Priest of LSD
12:09 pm


Timothy Leary

Acid evangelist Timothy Leary was born on this day in 1920. Aside from being one of the prime movers of the sixties counterculture—and a cheerful revolutionary dubbed “the most dangerous man in America” by Richard Nixon—Leary was an early cheerleader for cyberspace and computer technology in the 80s and 90s.

In the curious video below, Leary discusses drugs on a Pepsi-produced 80s “college cable” program with an “all star” panel that includes Dr. Andrew Weil, Papa John Phillips, motivational speaker John Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica-Parker(?) and Richard Kiel, “Jaws” from the James Bond films(???).

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Timothy Leary was a Ron Paul supporter (was he high???)
07:58 pm


Timothy Leary
Ron Paul

This made me groan, but it didn’t really surprise me all that much either…

In 1988, a floppy disk was sent out as an invitation to a Ron Paul fundraiser hosted by Timothy Leary at his home in Benedict Canyon. That year Paul made his first bid for the White House on the Libertarian party ticket and Leary—given Paul’s stance on drug legalization—was a big fan.

Via the New York Public Library’s blog:

A second disk, which may have been distributed to those attending the fundraiser, is signed by Leary with the following message:

“Thank you for joining me today in support of Ron Paul and the Libertarian Party. As we enter these closing years of the Roaring Twentieth Century, we’re going to see personal computers enhance our lives in ways we can scarcely imagine. Fellow Cyberpunk Chuck Hammill has helped me assemble a collection of bits and bytes you may enjoy.

“If you’re wise ... digitize!”

Tim Leary



In agreement with Leary’s interests at the time, the disk contains software credited by the Libertech Project for those who “like the idea of techno-thwarting government abuse” and was “distributed free to Libertarians, Objectivists, Discordians, Cyberpunks, Survivalists, Soldiers of Fortune, Hackers, Entropists, Deltaphiles and similar types…”

The disk contains DOS programs generating fractal graphics and a copy of the paper, “From Crossbows to Cryptography: Thwarting the State via Technology” by Chuck Hammill, given at the Future of Freedom Conference in November 1987.

It’s hard to imagine what ultra-square Ron Paul would have made of Leary’s “futant” pals. I sure hope a videotape of this fundraising event shows up one day on YouTube!

Other prominent supporters of Ron Paul’s candidacy in 1988 were Jesse Ventura, Barry Goldwater, Ralph Nadar and Cynthia McKinney.

Below, a sheet of Ron Paul blotter acid:

Thank you kindly Michael Segel!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Rebels: A Journey Underground’ w/ Timothy Leary, RAW, William Burroughs, William Gibson & more

Rebels: A Journey Underground is an excellent Canadian documentary history of “the counterculture” produced for television in the late 1990s and narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. It’s the work of writer/director Kevin Alexander, who did a great job with it. More people should see it. I’m happy to see that the series has been posted in full on YouTube.

The six-part series covers a wide swath of historical countercultures moving from William Blake and 1830s Parisian bohemians to mostly 20th century movements like hippie, Jazz, Beatniks, punk, and what was at the time the series was produced, the brave new world of cyberspace.

In the final episode, “Welcome to Cyberia,” I tell the story on camera of the now notorious corporate fuck-up that resulted in Disinformation receiving well over a million dollars in funding from John Malone’s TCI. This sum included $300,000 worth of marketing money—spent by yours truly in late 1996—that saw it featured on the Netscape homepage for five MONTHS. (If you’re too young to know what Netscape refers to, it was a 90s predecessor of the browser that you are using right now, so that was a very big deal. It was kind of like being on the homepage of virtually everyone who wasn’t logging on using AOL or Compuserve).

When Malone (an extreme conservative dubbed “Darth Vader” by Al Gore) saw Disinformation for the first time, his reaction, I was told by two people actually in the room, was “We paid for this anarchist bullshit? Get rid of it!”

Talking heads include Robert Anton Wilson, William Gibson, Douglas Rushkoff, Genesis P-Orridge, John Lydon, Jello Biafra, Captain Sensible, Richard Hell, Malcolm McLaren, Don Letts, Glen Matlock, Jon Savage, Caroline Coon, Paul Simonon, John Doe, Poly Styrene, Rosemary Leary, Ken Kesey, Paul Krassner, Ray Manzarek, Michael McClure, Anne Waldman, RU Sirius, Mark Pesce, John Perry Barlow, Rudy Rucker and many others.

Part 1: Society’s Shadow

From Bohemia and 19th century European romanticism, this film looks back through history to uncover the beginning of “new vision” thinking in Western civilization and its links to what is now called counterculture. From 1830s Paris to New York City’s Greenwich Village at the turn of the 20th century, it follows the paths which brought Europe’s most rebellious voices to America. Includes profiles of William Blake, Victor Hugo, Theophile Gauthier, Charles Baudelaire, John Reed and Woody Guthrie.

Parts two through six of Rebels: A Journey Underground after the jump…

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Turn on the tube: Timothy Leary and William Buckley arguing about L.S.D. on TV

William F. Buckley preens and licks his lips lasciviously as he attempts to wrap his head around Timothy Leary’s vision of a world turning day-glow.

Everybody trips in the end with a Beatlesque twist.

From a 1967 (the Summer of Love) episode of Firing Line.

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Timothy Leary interviewed by uber nerd Nardwuar in 1994
03:10 pm

Pop Culture

Timothy Leary

It’s 1994, a year and a half before he died, and Timothy Leary is being interviewed by the obnoxious Nardwuar in British Columbia. Like most interviewees approached by the Tam- wearing asshole, Leary displays tremendous cool in the face of Nardwuar’s grating dweebishness.

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Timothy Leary’s video game paraphernalia discovered
08:24 am


Timothy Leary

power glove
And he was an Adidas man, to boot
So the New York Public Library is archiving a giant cache of Timothy Leary’s possessions, and before you think it’s all ceramics and glass:

The Timothy Leary papers amount to 412 linear feet of letters, manuscripts, research documents, notes, legal and financial records, printed materials, photographs, video and audio tapes, CDs and DVDs, posters and flyers, and artifacts, dating from Leary’s youth in the 1920s until his death in 1997.

What’s even cooler, however, is that they just came across a little-known Nintendo component called a Power Glove. You may remember it from the movie, The Wizard, which I watched at least 5,000 times as a kid.

Power Glove was a fairly esoteric, expensive, and rare precursor to the Wii, so not a lot of people had one. This is probably a good thing, because I understand the technology wasn’t quite developed yet to make it any more than a cumbersome bother to use. Regardless, it’s fun (though not surprising) to know that Leary jumped on the video game gadgetry bandwagon early.

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Timothy Leary’s Dead (but today would have been his 92nd birthday)
12:48 pm


Timothy Leary

Raise a glass, drop a tab of acid or take a deep hit on your bong in honor of the great Timothy Leary, the counterculture guru and psychedelics spokesman who lived one of the most outrageous lives of the 20th century, born on October 22, 1920.

The revolutionary philosopher was once called the “most dangerous man in America” by Richard Nixon.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Carl Sagan writes to Timothy Leary in prison, 1974

Timothy Leary: New religion will be the religion of intelligence

Timothy Leary and William Gibson in conversation

Below, Leary’s death foretold in 1968, with the Moody Blues’ “Legend of A Mind” (aka “Timothy Leary’s Dead”):


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Carl Sagan writes to Timothy Leary in prison, 1974

Interesting glimpse at the written correspondence between Carl Sagan and a then-incarcerated Timothy Leary. Seeing what scientist Sagan made of Leary’s distinctly un-scientific book Terra IIthe occult side of Leary’s ideas coming out to be sure—is an unexpected treat.

Terra II is probably one of the least known of any of Leary’s books. However, when Leary wrote to Sagan, and included a copy, he wrote back, enthusiastically, about an in-person visit. People with Sagan’s reputation and level of success generally avoided Tim like the plague, but Sagan took him seriously enough to come to one of the worst prisons in the country to talk to “the most dangerous man in America” (as described by President Richard Nixon in 1970).

Terra II is a super rare book, it’s true. It was published by Leary’s common-law wife, Joanna Harcourt-Smith, while Leary was in Folsom State Prison and never properly distributed. According to the authoritative Annotated Bibliography of Timothy Leary by Michael Horowitz, Karen Walls and Billy Smith, only between 800 and 900 copies were printed. Most copies were probably sold to directly to supporters to raise money for Leary’s legal fees.

It took me years to get my hands on Terra II. It’s super far-out stuff and something I’ve found to be an object of intense fascination for years. I actually asked Tim Leary about it myself at his house in 1995 and I could tell immediately from his reaction that it was not something he really wanted to discuss (Robert Anton Wilson, who devoted quite a bit of space to the ideas presented in Terra II and Leary’s “Starseed Transmissions” pamphlet in his book Cosmic Trigger gave the topic a cold shoulder as well, as I wrote about here). I just love the idea of Carl Sagan reacting to the ideas in Terra II. Remarkable!

February 19, 1974

Dear Tim:

Thanks for your last note and the book TERRA II. I have no problems on chance mutations and natural selection as the working material for the evolutionary process. In fact, with what we now know about molecular biology, I see no way to avoid it. But I loved your remark about the “transgalactic gardening club.” Of course, if extraterrestrials are powerful enough, they can do anything, but I don’t think we can yet count on it. I’m enclosing an article on “Life” that I did for the Encyclopaedia Britannica which you might like.

On the basic requirements for interstellar exploration, I doubt if a manned expedition to Mars could be done within the next 25 years for less than $300 billion. Try really costing your spacecraft and see what it would cost. In fact, maybe the reason we haven’t been visited is that interstellar spaceflight, while technically possible, would beggar any planet which attempted it.

If we can do it, how would you like a visit from us in the last week in February? I have no idea what the visiting privileges are, but if your and my schedules permit, Linda and I would love to visit you in Vacaville on the morning of Thursday, February 28. Frank Drake has also expressed an interest in such a visit, as has our mutual acquaintance, Norman Zinberg of Harvard Medical School. What’s your feeling about it? Write to me at the St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, where I’ll be staying beginning Sunday, February 24, and I’ll try to firm up the visit, if it seems possible, shortly thereafter.

With best wishes,


Carl Sagan

P.S. The enclosed poem, “The Other Night” by Dianne Ackermann of Cornell, is something I think we both resonate to. It’s unfinished so it shouldn’t yet be quoted publically.

The short film “Timothy Leary in Folsom Prison” was made in 1973 to raise money for Leary’s legal defense and keep his name out there. Leary discusses his jailbreak (intimating that the daughter of a United States senator he refuses to name helped him), the revolution in consciousness and drugs, Eldridge Cleaver and what it feels like to be an imprisoned philosopher. Leary was released from prison in 1976 by then—and current—California Governor Jerry Brown.

Posted by The Timothy Leary Archives/Via Boing Boing

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Space Ghost interviews Timothy Leary

What a long strange it’s been for Space Ghost - from Blip the monkey to the high priest of psychedelia, Timothy Leary.

Space Ghost: Now Timothy, tell me, what’s your secret identity?

Timothy Leary: I’m an outlaw, I’m a, a counter-culture person, and that’s where I like to be, out there on the, on the front lines, uh, with my friends.

Space Ghost: What sort of super-powers do you possess?

Timothy Leary: Oh, we flood your eyeballs, over, overload your, uh, your earballs, I give you patterns and swirls of color, and, uh, makin’ you feel better and better, yeah, the power of using light to, uh, to enhance consciousness and alter consciousness is the tricks I’m using now, and, so far, they’re legal, Space Ghost.

Space Ghost: Now, Tim, people depend on me to defend their planets and save millions of innocent lives from impending doom. What do you feel people expect from you?

Timothy Leary: Uh, Richard Nixon called me—I’m proud of this, Space Ghost—he called me the most dangerous man alive, and of course, I tried to be as dangerous to him as I could be. Outsiders, uh, like me a lot because I’ve given the man fits, so I’ve got a lot of friends out there.”

This appeared on TV as the third episode of Space Ghost Coast To Coast, but it was actually the first show of the series to be produced.

Oh yeah, Judy Tenuta (ugh) and Ashley Judd also appear.

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The Death of Timothy Leary, ‘the most dangerous man in America’
06:29 pm


Timothy Leary

Dean Chamberlain’s famous portrait of Tim Leary

Jim Bliss writes at Dorian Cope’s On This Deity blog:

At 12:44am on the 31st of May 1996, Dr. Timothy Leary sat bolt upright in bed startling the small group of friends and family who had gathered to keep him company during his final days. He had been diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer the previous year and it had finally run its course. “Why not?” he asked those keeping vigil. Again, louder, “Why not?” He repeated the question a third time. “Why not?” Then, lying back down, Dr. Leary whispered his final word… “beautiful”… and slipped into death. He was 75 years old.

It’s hard to think of many public figures who split opinion to the degree that Leary did, and still does. Hailed by some as one of the most important philosophers of his generation, by others as a visionary scientist centuries ahead of his time, and by some as a prophet, a mystic, a guru, even a saint. While still others denounce him as a fool, an ego-maniacal charlatan and even – in the words of President Richard Nixon – “the most dangerous man in America”. As is so often the case, the truth is far more complex than the simple narratives produced by those who worshipped or abhorred him. In fact Leary’s life and work encapsulate perfectly the chaos and ambiguity; the heady highs and crashing lows; of the psychedelic counter-culture he – more than any other single individual – helped to create.

Read more at On This Deity

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Must see TV: Timothy Leary, Billy Idol, The Ramones and Television

While no one will mistake this for a historic meeting of the minds, it does have its odd charm. The Marshall McLuhan of punk Billy Idol chats with Timothy Leary about rock n’ roll, cyberspace and computers. “Pretty deep,” Joey Ramone observes while Television (the band) let old skool technologies like drums and guitars do the talking.

ABC In Concert, 1993.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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