Timothy Leary lives ...
...in books, on film and on new Moody Blues CD
July 8, 1997
Web posted at: 11:25 p.m. EDT (0325 GMT)
From Correspondent Mark Scheerer
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Timothy Leary's dead -- as the Moody Blues
once put it in song well before the fact -- but there is no
shortage of people who seem intent on keeping the memory of
the acid guru alive.
Including the Moody Blues themselves.
Leary died on May 31, 1996, and slightly more than a year
later, there is a wealth of new books about him, along with
three films and a CD from the Moody Blues. Featured on the
latter is a remake of their classic "Legend of a Mind," but
the refrain has been changed from "Timothy Leary's dead" to
"Timothy Leary lives ..."
There's also a bit of controversy over what became of Leary's
Leary, of course, is the one-time Harvard University
professor who was cashiered for overindulging in his
experiments with psychedelic drugs. Leary admitted to taking
LSD more than 500 times, and coined the phrase "Tune in, turn
on, drop out."
"The LSD trip," he once said, "is best understood as a
He became a guru to the counter-culture, and although in time
he became a kind of fringe figure, he never lost his knack
for the adventurous and the outrageous.
'He was determined to party to the end'
While terminally ill with cancer, he communicated with his
fans on the Internet, giving them up-to-the-minute takes on
what it was like to be dying.
He also allowed the end of his life to be filmed. David
Silver and Danny Schecter's version is called "Beyond Life
with Timothy Leary."
"He was determined to party to the end," Silver says. "And he
A second film, "Timothy Leary's Last Home Entertainment
Trip," is a kind of a Deadhead's bio of Leary.
"We compare his life and experimentation with psychedelic
drugs on the East Coast with other people on the West Coast,
such as Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters," says filmmaker
O.B. Babbs. "And that's where kind of my personal take comes
in, because both of my parents were original Merry
The third and most controversial film is "Timothy Leary's
Dead," in which it is suggested that after Leary's death, his
head was removed and cryogenically frozen for possible future
cloning or revitalization.
"There's been much discussion of 'Timothy Leary's Dead,'"
Paul Davids says. "'Is it real? Is it real?' and Timothy
actually wanted my film to be ambiguous. And I've
deliberately made it that way."
No decapitation, just cremation
But Leary's son, Zach, says there was no decapitation, just
"No, he was cremated," Zach Leary says. "And on one hand,
I do think by creating some kind of myth like they did at the
end of the film is kind of adventurous and funny. But my
conscience tells me it's in bad taste."
Leary displays a glass jar with a label that reads "White
Rose." Inside, he says, are his father's ashes, less a
portion that was sent into space with a commercial venture.
"I thought maybe I could put an end to that, which is why I'm
showing them to you."
The question, of course, is why the sudden surge in books and
films about the man.
Filmmaker Silver thinks he knows. In his inimitable way, he
says, Leary "would give exclusive contracts to as many people
as he could give them to."
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