A technician who volunteered to repair a 1960s-era vintage synthesizer got far more than he bargained for after LSD residue inside the synth sent him on a 9-hour acid trip.
Eliot Curtis, a broadcast operations manager for KPIX Television, recently volunteered to repair a vintage Buchla 100 modular synthesizer owned by Cal State East Bay. In the mid-1960s, the college’s music professors commissioned this synthesizer from former NASA engineer Don Buchla to kickstart their avant-garde electronic music lab.(source Merryjane.com)
Don Buchla invented a synthesizer to help other musicians experiment with non-traditional instrumentation, but young musicians at the time were also interested in exploring other things. The Buchla 100 uses a capacitive touch-plate for user input, rather than the traditional piano keyboard used in most other synthesizers. And, according to urban legend, students at the school coated this red plate in LSD to give its users an unexpected creative boost.
Buchla reportedly used LSD himself, and was good friends with Owsley Stanley, the Grateful Dead’s sound engineer, who was notorious for making the purest acid of the era. In 1966, some Buchla modules were being used on an old school bus owned by acid enthusiast Ken Kesey, and these unique synthesizers were even name-checked in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.Suzanne Ciani, one of the instrument’s most famous users, recalled how Buchla was designing these instruments in Berkley at the height of the political unrest of the late 1960s. she told XPIX5.
Don Buchla, “father” of the synth, was well inserted in the gotha of the Californian Sixties counterculture, so much to be in contact with Ken Kesey, the author of the famous “Someone Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and a leading figure of the bridge generation between beatnik and hippie. Not to mention the friendship that linked Buchla to Owsley Stanley, the Grateful Dead sound engineer.