Sep 17, 1935 - Nov 10, 2001
Ken Kesey was a writer, born in La Junta, Colorado. He earned a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 1957 and then studied creative writing at Stanford in the late 50s. While at Stanford he tried hallucinogens for the first time after volunteering for a government research program at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park, CA. As part of the program, Kesey was given LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and AMT. It was during this same period that he worked as a psychiatric attendant at the hospital, an experience he used when writing his novel 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. While at Stanford, Kesey lived at Perry Lane, a bohemian community in Palo Alto where he became known for throwing parties where psychoactive chemicals often found their way into the punch bowl.
After this novel was published, Kesey purchased property in La Honda, California where he and the Merry Pranksters threw the now famous Acid Test parties during the mid 60s. The events, fueled by diverse and intriguing guests, day-glo decorations in the trees, music from hidden speakers, and plenty of LSD, are now well documented. In 1964, Kesey and the Merry Pranksters set out on their cross-country bus trip to the East coast in a psychedelically painted school bus named Furthur. Along the way they met, among others, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, and Jack Kerouac. The trip has been immortalized by Tom Wolfe's book 'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test'.
Ken Kesey stood as a transition between the Beat Generation of the 50s and the Hippies of the 60s. His first book remained his most famous, but he remained an inspiration to many to the end of his life. His funeral was attended by more than 1,000 mourners.