KEN KESEY 1935 – 2001

The 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' and Merry Prankster passes away aged 66...

US author KEN KESEY, who helped launch the hippie movement and had a massive influence on popular music since the 60s, has died.

According to the Reuters news service, the writer died on Saturday (November 10) at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, Oregon. His death came as a result of complications from liver cancer.

The 66-year-old former wrestler wrote one of the most enduring Great American Novels of the post-war era, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ , before turning 30.

Kesey can also justly claim to be the godfather of psychedelia, laying the foundations for pretty much everything from acid rock to acid house – from the Grateful Dead to The Shamen to Super Furry Animals and beyond.

In 1964, using the proceeds of his novels, Kesey bought an old school bus, painted it with psychedelic murals and set off on a road trip across America to spread the gospel of LSD, still legal at this point. He was accompanied by a band of film makers, musicians and freaks known as The Merry Pranksters; the bus was driven by Neal Cassady, immortalised as Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road.

The journey was later taken as inspiration by Tom Wolfe for his book ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’.

In recent years, Kesey toured the UK, where he presented a play, readings and film footage of the original bus trip.

Kesey is survived by his wife, Faye, his daughters, Shannon and Sunshine, son Zane and three grandchildren.

Speaking about his loss, son Zane Kesey said: “As usual he did things his own way. Even in dying, he did a really good job. He was doing really well and he came home. It was a beautiful day and he just walked around, then he lay down on his back on the porch and looked up at the sky for a while. It was like he was saying goodbye.”