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RIP The World's First Raver, Ken Kesey

Author: Jonty Adderley
Monday, November 19, 2001
Psychedelic counter culture hero Ken Kesey died last week at the age of 66 from liver cancer. Best known as the author of seminal 60s book One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, he was also the founder and leader of the Merry Pranksters, the group of individuals most responsible for popularising hippy culture. Their adventures were best captured by Tom Wolfe in his book the Electric Cool Aid Acid Test, which documented the Pranksters as they drove across America in their Magic Bus during the 60s.

Kesey developed his taste for LSD when taking part on clinical studies on the drug at Stanford University, and was the first individual to put it together what would now be called a rave. Combining LSD, strobe lights and the music of the Grateful Dead (who were then simply Merry Pranksters) Kesey staged countless happenings throughout the 60s, challenging authorities at every turn. Eventually jailed for marijuana possession, he disappeared from public view for much of the 70s and 80s, though embraced the internet, setting up in recent years.

A true figurehead and pioneer of alternative living, he nevertheless conceded that in later life, he'd come to reassess his life of rebellion.

"Anybody who says they have no regrets is either a liar of a dimwit (idiot)- or probably both," he said. And on the subject of drugs, he was even more specific.

"If I could go back in time and trade in certain experiences I've had for the brain cells presumably burned up, it would be a tough decision."
Ken Kesey died on November 10th.