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Another Summer of Love...

With a massive resurgence of interest in LSD threatening to turn the festival season into one long psychedelic picnic we bring you a rundown of our all-time favourite trippers...

This year has witnessed a massive resurgence of interest in LSD – the mother of all mind-altering drugs and one of the most contentious substances known to humanity. Since the Swiss scientist Dr Albert Hofmann accidentally discovered the substance back in 1943, LSD has had such a profound effect on society that its impact is impossible to measure and, unless you have been living in some sort of isolation tank, you will undoubtedly have noticed that the acid tab is back on the scene with a vengeance, in all its whacked-out, psychedelic glory.

With the festival season upon us and a whole new generation's interest in the drug reaching fever pitch we thought we'd give you a run down of our all-time favourite trippers – those people who bought the ticket, took the ride and came back down with theories about everything from the double helix nature of DNA to the end of the world; benevolent extra-terrestrials to novelty-inducing time waves; stoned apes to utopian future worlds, and a whole lot more ...

"Captain” Al Hubbard
This “freelance apostle” for LSD is said to have turned over 6,000 people onto what was then considered the psychiatric wonder drug – from professors and authors to diplomats. He travelled the world incognito with a briefcase containing LSD and mescaline and allegedly carried out some of the first experiments with LSD on psychiatric patients at Menlo Park. He was also rumoured to have been an operative for the CIA, among many other things, and, in 1957, he even got the Catholic church in Canada to print a notice advocating LSD use “for the benefit of mankind here and in all eternity”.

Francis Crick
The father of modern genetics and Nobel-prize winning scientist who, along with his colleague James Watson, cracked the DNA code. Crick publicly stated that he used LSD in his research and that he was actually under its influence when he first deduced the double-helix nature of DNA. Thus, in no small way, it could be said that the use of LSD has helped to fundamentally alter the course of human evolution.

Terence McKenna
In the early 90s the LSD-guru Terence McKenna's encouragement for everyone to prepare for the so-called omega point of December 21, 2012 by smoking DMT and dropping as much acid as they could lay their hands on led to an inexplicable surge of interest in the music of Eat Static and Ozric Tentacles. If you can find it your heart to forgive him and you've got the time and inclination to indulge yourself in his "Novelty Theory" of the universe look out... you might find it hard to come back down – "What the alien voice in the psychedelic experience wants to reveal is the syntactical nature of reality. That the real secret of magic is that the world is made of words, and that if you know the words that the world is made of you can make of it whatever you wish." – from Alien Dreamtime

Richard Kemp
The Cambridge scientist who created what was supposedly the best acid ever to hit the street. In 1965, Kemp synthesised 1.7kg of 99.7percent pure acid from 7.4 of ergotamine tartrate. It was enough to make about 8.5 million doses of 200µg each, enough for the population of a small country... one the size of say, Britain. The acid was circulated for a brief time and has become the stuff of LSD legend. Kemp was caught by the fuzz in the 1970s, in the Sweeney-esque Operation Julie.

Aldous Huxley
The author of prophetic literary works such as Brave New World was one of the first to promote the use of psychedelics in the pursuit of both intellectual and spiritual enlightenment. Considered one of the greatest philosophical thinkers of his age, Huxley was perhaps the most committed tripper in human history. On his death bed he asked to be, and was, injected with a massive dose of LSD. 

Dr. Timothy Leary
Winona Ryder’s godfather was infamous for coining the phrase “Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out”, but was first a psychology professor who dropped out of Harvard after claiming to have learnt more from one trip than he had “in 15 years of psychological research”. He turned all his energies to the promotion of acid in popular culture in the firm belief that LSD could turn America into a utopian paradise.

Hunter S. Thompson
The gun-toting father of razor-sharp gonzo journalism needs little introduction and LSD was just one of the many mind-bending substances he imbibed as he stalked the dark side of the American dream. When he checked out he had his ashes shot out of a cannon shaped like a giant peyote button, but during his lifetime he always maintained healthy critical distance – "What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force - is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.” – From Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Syd Barrett
The founder of Pink Floyd. Need we say more? – "Trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro... you have no word / trip, trip to a dream dragon, hide your wings in a ghost tower, sails cackling at every plate we break / cracked by scattered needles / the little minute gong coughs and clears his throat/ madam you see before you stand / hey ho, never be still, the old original favorite grand, grasshoppers green Herbarian band and the tune they play is "In Us Confide" / so trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro / you have no word" – From the song "Octopus".

Robert Anton Wilson
No tripper has postulated further out notions on life, death, the universe and everything than Robert Anton Wilson. There is no drug this conspiracy theorist, occultist, author and psychonaut wouldn't advocate in a New York-minute, and no idea he would discount, no matter how far out. Got a sneaking suspicion we are ruled by ten-foot lizards in drag? Wilson will tell you why you shouldn't rule out anything because whatever you can conjure in your psychedelic imagination might just be true – "Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."

Ken Kesey
The celebrated author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest was also the founder of The Merry Pranksters – a band of trippers spearheaded by himself and beat legend Neal Casssady who spent 1964 travelling the length and breadth of the United States in a bus handing out LSD in the hope of realising the utopian dream espoused by the likes of Timothy Leary – "With the advent of acid, we discovered a new way to think, and it has to do with piecing together new thoughts in your mind... What is it about it that scares people so deeply, even the guy that invented it, what is it? Because they're afraid that there's more to reality than they have confronted. That there are doors that they're afraid to go in, and they don't want us to go in there either, because if we go in we might learn something that they don't know. And that makes us a little out of their control." – From the television documentary The Beyond Within: The Rise and Fall of LSD

Sir Paul McCartney
It is often greatly overlooked that this was the first British pop star to candidly admit to taking LSD on British Television in 1967 – in no small way kicking off fervent youth interest in the drug and to some degree... the first summer of love.

Above: Lycergic Acid Diethylamide, LSD, Damien Hirst, 2000