As the history of the psychedelic revolution is being written fifty years later, I can’t help but notice some of the most important characters are disappearing from the official narrative. And foremost among the missing men is Ronald Stark.
I recently watched The Sunshine Makers on Netflix concerning LSD chemists Nick Sands and Tim Scully, the duo who produced millions of hits of Orange Sunshine for The Brotherhood of Eternal Love out of Laguna Beach. I found it quite odd that John Griggs, Tim Leary and Ron Stark were left out of the story entirely. So I checked out the maker of this documentary only to discover it was Cosmo Feilding-Mellen, an English royal whose mom was involved with Nick Sands. I suspect she was also involved with Stark, who surfaced in England to recruit psychiatrist R.D. Laing to become the first psychedelic messiah. These characters were swimming in the same pond.
Laing worked for the Tavistock Institute at the time, the English equivalent of Fort Detrick’s MK/Ultra mind control matrix. But before that appointment, Laing made his career breaking fakers trying to slip out of military service as mental rejects, as in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. He’d created a new theory of mental illness along the way in which the crazy people were the sane ones simply creating another reality to escape a crazy world. When examining the actions of psychiatrists inflicting electric shock and other invasive trauma, and comparing that with the reactions of the patients, Laing concluded it was the system that was irrational.
But Laing was spooked by Stark’s elaborate plans for the Psychedelic Revolution he was plotting, so Stark left England and arrived at the doorstep of Tim Leary to make the same offer. Leary was living in upstate New York at the time, in an estate provided by Billy Hitchcock, one of the heirs to the Mellon fortune. Hitchcock became a primary money launderer and also the startup funder for Orange Sunshine. But it was Stark who provided the essential precursor.
At the time John Griggs was running the most important hippie secret society, The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and he was the real hippie avatar you likely never heard of who has been written out of the story. When Leary got kicked out of that New York estate, he fled to Griggs, and affected a Griggs style, wearing Afghan silk robes and putting flowers in his hair and preaching universal love. That was all Griggs. Leary was a West Point graduate who did high-level government research on mind control. But he slipped off the leash and went native and joined the hippie revolution. And then he got lost in the wilderness of mirrors, because that revolution was being usurped from the moment it first appeared.
Meanwhile, Sands gave Griggs an experimental substance to test, and Griggs died shortly after ingesting it. This is when Stark showed up with more LSD than anyone thought existed and Stark forged a relationship with Michael Randall, who inherited the Brotherhood leadership. It was Stark who created the European distribution network for the Brotherhood.
He got ratted out in Italy and put in jail, but convinced a judge he really worked for the CIA and he got released. His death is cloaked in mystery and nothing is known for sure, except that he moved among the biggest drug smugglers and terror operatives and political officials of his time. He had global connections that reached into the highest levels of government and organized crime and the hippie counterculture.
So my question is, why is Ron Stark being left out of the story?