KEN KESEY, psychedelic prankster and visionary, hits the road again this week when he launches the wheresmerlin? UK tour, visiting UK festivals and venues where he will be presenting a play, readings and film footage of the original bus trip and acid tests.
The 63-year-old former wrestler wrote two of the most enduring Great American Novels of the postwar era, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion, 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.
Kesey will be accompanied by seven of the original Merry Pranksters and will be looking for Merlin, who is supposed to return at the millennium to save Avalon.
Channel 4 will also be launching a season of programmes on Friday dedicated to the summer of love including ‘Tripping’ a documentary on the Pranksters directed by Vikram Jayanti, co-produced the Muhammed Ali doco When We Were Kings (Saturday August 7 at 23.00 BST).
Kesey and the psychedelic bus will be at Brighton Peace Statue, Waterloo Street on the seafront at 5pm BST. They will then drive overnight to Stonehenge for a photo call and impromptu audience with the press and public.
They then visit
Salisbury The Big Chill (August 7) Plymouth Total Eclipse (9) Special Eclipse performance Penzance Minack Theatre (11) London Brixton Academy (14 & 15) Bristol Victoria Rooms (17) Swansea Brangwyn Hall (18) Liverpool Cavern (20) Liverpool Royal Court (21) Dublin Vicar Street (22) Belfast St George’s Market Hall (23) Edinburgh Arthur’s Seat (26) Edinburgh Kool Aid Music Festival (27) Liverpool Beatles Convention (30)
Want to know more about the godfather of psychedelia Click here to read Stephen Dalton‘s article on him.