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The Trip of a Lifetime

Nearly 50 years after the publication of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a new edition takes a drug-drenched ride through the ’60s revolution with the Merry Pranksters.


The Merry Pranksters traveled cross-country on this bus named Further.

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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

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Acid and the Grateful Dead
The so-called acid tests were actually all-night parties that combined LSD with live music, movies, “audioptics,” and projections for a communal drug trip. The Grateful Dead played this 1966 dance party, held at midnight in a film studio near the Sunset Strip.

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The Counterculture Capital
Grateful Dead manager Rock Scully, Jerry Garcia, and Tom Wolfe (from left) at the corner of Haight and Ashbury in 1966.

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“A Remarkable Mind Drug”
A spread from Lawrence Schiller’s March 25, 1966, Life cover story, the first national story to show the acid scene from the inside.

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The Acid Test Graduation
Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters transformed their Harriet Street warehouse into a venue for the Acid Test Graduation in 1966, draping the space in a silk drogue parachute. 

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The graduation drew three television crews, four radio stations, and three national magazine correspondents (including Tom Wolfe).

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In 1966, photojournalist Lawrence Schiller met Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, a band of misfits experimenting with the mind-bending effects of LSD across San Francisco. That same year, writer Tom Wolfe teamed up with photographer Ted Streshinsky to document the intrepid travelers on a cross-country trip aboard a bus called Further. That ride formed the basis for Wolfe’s wild 1968 opus The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which chronicled the capers of the Pranksters in their prime. On October 15, a new limited-edition run of the psychedelic page-turner was released by Taschen Books. (See slideshow above.)


Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco

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