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Myron Stolaroff, Humphry Osmond, and Al Hubbard in Conversation
From the Stolaroff Collection Audio Archive
by Jon Hanna
Jul 7, 2010
Citation:   Hanna J. "Myron Stolaroff, Humphry Osmond, and Al Hubbard in Conversation." Erowid.org Erowid.org/culture/characters/stolaroff_myron/stolaroff_myron_article2.shtml. Jul 7, 2010.
Ampex Reels from the Stolaroff Collection
The Tape Described
On November 1, 1964--two days after consuming LSD together--Myron Stolaroff, Humphry Osmond, and Al Hubbard captured the following discussion on a reel-to-reel recorder. The recording includes a short commont from Willis Harman, and Hubbard's wife Rita joins them briefly toward the end of the conversation. This may be one of only a few extant recordings featuring Al "Captain Trips" Hubbard, who passed away in 1982.

CLICK TO LISTEN to MP3

The conversation of these psychedelic pioneers focuses primarily on the challenges that surround group dynamics. They touch on a number of interpersonal relationship issues, dealing at some length with situations related to tensions between Osmond and Hubbard. Osmond asks Hubbard to explain why he seems to have been unwilling for them to drop acid together for a number of years, and comments on Hubbard's character: "You're a killer who understands the rules of the game, and therefore doesn't have to kill very often--like an absolutely first-rate game warden. A hunter who doesn't, in fact, go around slaughtering all of the animals just for fun. He merely shoots animals if they charge at him wild, if they have rabies, or if they're in pain." Valuable insights and hard-won pearls of wisdom regarding the challenges facing those who wish to work with psychedelics in groups are offered up by each speaker. The limitations of language for expressing altered mind states are discussed, and Osmond opines that describing psychedelic experiences is best done by poets.

At times, in particular for listeners who are not familiar with the "cast of characters"--researchers and board members associated with the International Foundation for Advanced Study (IFAS) who are only mentioned by their first names (Duncan Blewitt, Charles Savage, Abram Hoffer, and others)--it can be hard to follow the dialogue. And the conversation--peppered with the strong opinions and colorful language of Hubbard and Osmond--borders on gossipy at times. Timothy Leary is criticized, for example, due to his "starting a new religion" approach.

An interesting aside is presented regarding a prospective IFAS funder named Barksdale, who--as it turns out--had been financing the production of black-market LSD. Hubbard describes this as the "green LSD", which was characterized as a shoddy/impure street product in correspondence between Osmond and Stolaroff.

Erowid Center is pleased to make this first recording from the Stolaroff Collection available to the public.1 Recordings will also be hosted at Lorenzo Hagerty's Psychedelic Salon, where some transcribed quotations from this selection can be found. For Erowid, knowing that Stolaroff was instrumental in the development of Ampex's reel-to-reel recording technology has added a poignant quality to the restoration and dissemination of audio from reels in the Stolaroff Collection. In the future, more recordings from this collection will be hosted online at Erowid; donations to help cover the cost of digitizing tapes can be made at: Erowid.org/donations/project_stolaroff.php

Notes #
  1. Along with remastering by Jason Rizos in order to improve sound quality, this recording has seen light editing by Erowid. In a few cases, uncomfortably long pauses have been shortened, and one 18-minute section describing Stolaroff's relationship with his ex-wife was removed; the discussion was sensitive from the perspective of being extremely personal, and it was not particularly relevant to the topic of working with psychedelics, which is the focus of this recording. In making content edits, Erowid strives to balance privacy concerns with those of preserving and sharing the historical record. Erowid's archiving policy is to note when content has been removed.

Photo Credits #
  1. Photos by Jon Hanna.
Revision History #
  • v1.0 - Jul 7, 2010 - Jon Hanna - Published on Erowid.org.