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RIP, Father of LSD

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On Tuesday, one of the most important contributors to the development of most popular Western music and culture in general passed away at 102 years of age at his home in Switzerland. I am speaking, of course, of Albert Hoffman, the Swiss chemist who invented LSD.

Think where the world would be without Hoffman’s accidental breakthrough. In music alone, there would have been no 13th Floor Elevators, no San Francisco Summer of Love, no drastic innovation in the Beatles sound after the release of Help! (and thus no Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, White Album, or Abbey Road, at least not as we know them), no Hendrix, no Pet Sounds, no “Paint It Black” or “She’s a Rainbow” from the Stones, no Sly and the Family Stone, no Pink Floyd or P-Funk and on and on and on.

Sure, the drug had its cartoonish excesses (“In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” and the like) and claimed temporarily or permanently the psyches of some of its too ardent devotees (Sly Stone, Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, Arthur Lee, to name a few), but where would rock music today be without it?

So turn on, tune in, and pour one out for Albert Hoffman. – John Nova Lomax

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