Ultimate Guitar writes
What can be considered an authentic symbol of the ’60s counter-culture movement, the “spirit pipe” designed by LSD pioneer Augustus Owsley Stanley for Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia has been found, after more than 30 years of being considered gone.
Owsley had a long history of collaboration with the Dead, being the group’s original soundman and financial backer, helping the band design their logo, and, as it’s of course implied, providing them with copious amounts of drugs.
Now, as reported by Rolling Stone, the pipe that Owsley made and gifted Garcia with has been sold by Merl Saunders Jr, son of keyboardist Merl Saunders, to antique dealer and Grateful Dead expert Steve Cabella.
Saunders Jr initially took notice of the pipe behind a built-in bed while remodeling his father’s house in 2008, following his death. The quirky device had been stashed in the Saunders residence since Garcia was arrested in 1985 for drug possession.
Cabella had the following to say about the item:
“The pipe is a special thing. I was told by Merl Saunders’ son that [no one else smoked out of it]. It was Jerry’s pipe. Only Jerry’s pipe. It was obviously used, but it never became a party pipe. That’s the only reason it still exists because it was lost and nobody could find it. Everybody forgot about it.”
After some research, Cabella claims that the pipe was indeed a gift from Owsley, but was actually built by his ex, Rhoney Stanley. The item sports an ivory medallion with an image of a big cat sitting in the center of a setting sun, mimicking the cover of Jerry Garcia Band’s 1978 album, “Cats Under the Stars”.
Further identification was provided by a carving of a crouching tiger on a hillside along the pipe, which is a reference to Garcia’s iconic guitar Tiger, which in itself is a reference to the musician’s spirit animal.
Cabella also shared his plans for the future of the pipe, which he claims still smells of burnt weed:
“I’m very much into exhibition preservation and education. So the next place that this resides can’t just be a pot museum. It’s more than that. I don’t want it to end up somewhere where somebody smokes out of it. That was Jerry’s job.”