Image of Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey

Kesey burst into the literary scene with the "Cuckoo's Nest" in 1962 which he wrote from his experiences working at a veterans hospital. During this period, he volunteered for the testing on the drug LSD. After writing his second novel, "Sometimes A Great Notion," he bought an old school bus dubbed "Further." With Neal Cassidy at the wheel and pitchers of LSD-laced-Kool-Laid in the cooler, Kesey and a band of friends who called themselves The Merry Pranksters took a trip across America to New York's World Fair. It would be 28 years until Kesey published his third major novel, "Sailor Song," in 1992, and he later said he lost interest in the novel as an art form after he discovered the magic of the bus. The bus ride was immortalized in Tom Wolfe's 1968 account, "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." The movie version of the "Cuckoo's Nest" swept the 1974 Academy Awards for best actor, best actress, best director, and best picture. But Kesey, who has never seen the film, sued the producers because it took the viewpoint away from the character of the schizophrenic American Indian, Cheif Bromden. Kesey was diagnosed with diabetes in 1992 and set down root in Pleasant Hill, in the mid 1960s, after serving four months in jail for a marijuana bust in California. His rambling red barn-house has become a landmark of the psychedelic era, attracting visits from myriad strangers in tie-dyed clothing seeking enlightenment.

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Sep 17, 1935 In La Junta, Colorado, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the series American Masters 1986-06-22
Latest Project:
Series Rock & Roll 1995-09-24
Known For
Poster of Rock & Roll
Poster of American Masters
Rock & Roll Self 2 episodes, 1995 1995-09-24
American Masters Unknown 1986-06-22