Acid Tests

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For other uses, see Acid test (disambiguation).
Acid Tests
Date November 27, 1965 (1965-11-27)
Location California

The Acid Tests were a series of parties held by author Ken Kesey in the San Francisco Bay Area during the mid-1960s, centered entirely around the use of, and advocacy of, the psychedelic drug LSD, also known as "acid."

The name "Acid Test" was coined by Kesey, after the term "acid test" used by gold miners in the 1850s. He began throwing parties at his farm at La Honda, California.[1] The Merry Pranksters were central to organizing the Acid Tests, including Pranksters such as Lee Quarnstrom and Neal Cassady. Other people such as Tim Scully were involved as well.

Kesey took the parties to public places, and advertised with posters that read, "CAN YOU PASS THE ACID TEST?", and the name was later popularized in Tom Wolfe's 1968 book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Musical performances by the Grateful Dead were commonplace, along with black lights, strobe lights, and fluorescent paint. The Acid Tests are notable for their influence on the LSD-based counterculture of the San Francisco area and subsequent transition from the beat generation to the hippie movement. The Jefferson Airplane song "A Song for All Seasons" (from Volunteers) mentions the Acid Tests.

Trips Festival[edit]

Trips Festival
Trips Festival poster.png
Genre psychedelic
Dates January 21, 22 and 23
Location(s) Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco
Years active 1966
Founded by Ramon Sender, Ken Kesey, Stewart Brand

Ramon Sender co-produced the Trips Festival with Ken Kesey and Stewart Brand. It was a three-day event that, in conjunction with The Merry Pranksters, brought together the nascent hippie movement for the first time.[citation needed] The Trips Festival was held at the Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco in January 1966.[2] Counterculture sound engineer Ken Babbs is mostly credited for the sound systems he created for the Trips Festival. Prior to Babbs’ creation, it was discovered that particular music usually sounded distorted when cranked to high levels because of the cement floor on the San Francisco Longshoreman’s Union Hall (where the Trips Festival was taking place). Babbs being a sound engineer resolved the problem. He made sound amplifiers that would not create distorted sounds when turned up to high sound levels.[citation needed]

Organized by Stewart Brand, Ken Kesey, Owsley Stanley, Zach Stewart and others. Ten thousand people attended this sold-out event, with a thousand more turned away each night.[3] On Saturday January 22, the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company came on stage, and 6,000 people arrived to imbibe punch spiked with LSD and to witness one of the first fully developed light shows of the era.[4]

The Marbles were a psychedelic and rock group whose second most notable performances was at the Trips Festival on January 21, 22 and 23 along with Jefferson Airplane, The Charlatans and The Great Society. Both Shapiro and Dowler went on to become members of Paul Fauerso's The Loading Zone.[5][6] The Loading Zone's first major concert was the Trips Festival at the Longshoreman's Hall in January 1966.[2] Big Brother and the Holding Company was formed at their first gig, the Trips Festival. In the audience was painter and jazz drummer David Getz, who soon joined the band.[7][8][9]


    • 8 January; San Francisco, California (Fillmore)
    • 15 January; Portland, Oregon
    • 21–23 January; San Francisco (Trips Festival at Longshoreman's Hall)
    • 29 January; San Francisco, California (Sound City Studios)
    • 5 February; Los Angeles, California (Northridge, Unitarian Church)
    • 12 February; Los Angeles, California (Watts) – Youth Opportunities Center
    • 25 February; Los Angeles, California (Hollywood) – Cinema Theatre
    • 12 March; Los Angeles, California (Danish Center)
    • 19 March; Los Angeles, California (Pico) Carthay Studios
    • 25 March; Los Angeles, California (Sunset Strip) – Troupers Club
    • 30 September – 2 October; San Francisco, California (San Francisco State) – Whatever It Is Festival – three days[12]
    • 31 October; San Francisco, California (Acid Test Graduation at Winterland)
    • 16 March; Houston, Texas (Brown College, Rice University) (despite the "graduation" concept of the final West Coast Acid Test, the actual final Acid Test of The Merry Pranksters was organized inTexas by Kesey's friend Larry McMurtry)[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Psychedelic 60s: Ken Kesey & the Merry Pranksters". 2009-12-16. 
  2. ^ a b Andrew Gilbert, "Loading Zone Reloaded", East Bay Express, 13 August 2008
  3. ^ Tamony, Peter. (Summer, 1981). Tripping out from San Francisco. American Speech. Vol. 56, No. 2. pp. 98–103. Tamony, 1981, p.98
  4. ^ retrieved 18 December 2006
  5. ^ Hannan, Ross and Arnold, Corry (2004–2010). "Loading Zone". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  6. ^ Perry, Charles. "A History of the Haight-Ashbury; The Trips Festival". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  7. ^ Brant, Marley (2008). Join Together: Forty Years of the Rock Music Festival. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 16. 
  8. ^ Sinclair, Mick (2004). San Francisco: a cultural and literary history. Interlink Books. p. 204. 
  9. ^ "Chronology". 1998–2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  10. ^ The Acid Test Chronicles, page 11
  11. ^ "December 18, 1965: The Big Beat, Palo Alto--Lost and Found". 2013-04-11. 
  12. ^ View KRON-TV newsfilm of the Whatever it is Festival, from 9/30/1966:
  13. ^ "Lysergic Pranksters in Texas". 2014-11-20. 


External links[edit]

  • Media related to Acid Tests at Wikimedia Commons