Legend of a Mind – Timothy Leary & LSD


Timothy Leary during a press conference in New York City, September 19, 1966 – “turn on, tune in, drop out.”

“‘Legend of a Mind’ is the name of a 1968 song by British rock band The Moody Blues. It’s about a man named Timothy Leary, a former Harvard University instructor and research psychologist. In the 1960s, Leary would become an advocate of the drug LSD – lysergic acid diethylamide – a mind- altering, hallucinogenic compound. LSD, also known in the 1960s by its slang name, ‘acid,’ became something of a revolutionary, counter-cultural substance in that period. And Leary, after a time as a university researcher exploring the drug’s psychotherapy potential, became a kind of ‘pied piper’ for the drug’s recreational and spiritual use. He would write a dozen or more books on LSD and the psychedelic experience. And with subsequent media attention, he became something of national guru to a younger generation then rebelling against the status quo. During the 1960s he also became known for his phrase, ‘turn on, tune in, drop out,’ a slogan he used for urging people to embrace self-enlightenment through psychedelic drugs and mind expansion, while ‘dropping out’ – i.e., breaking free of social convention, questioning authority, and becoming independent thinkers. Leary’s explanation of his slogan was typically more nuanced than what the media often suggested, i.e, ‘getting stoned; dropping out of school, work, etc.’ What follows below is a short history on Leary and the times – from his Harvard days and LSD proselytizing to his run-ins with famous entertainer Art Linkletter, U.S. President Richard Nixon, and the federal government in their denunciations of him and their battles over drug use, as well as Leary’s flight from the law.  … The 1960s, meanwhile, continued to see cultural change throughout the world, driven by the post-WWII baby boom. By 1968 in America – a presidential election year – political tumult and convulsive change were front and center. Already buffeted by ongoing Vietnam War protests and civil rights unrest, the assassinations of Martin Luther King in April and Bobby Kennedy in July added more woe to the nation’s misery. Then came the televised protests and street riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that August. Social protest, drugs, alternative life styles, Eastern mysticism, and the call of the counterculture were all part of the scene.  …”
The Pop History Dig (Audio)


The Harvard Review’s “Drugs and the Mind,” special edition, Summer 1963.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books, CIA, LSD, Marijuana, Music, Nixon, Timothy Leary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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