Synthesizer Tech Gets High After Unknowingly Touching LSD From The '60s
By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta
May 24, 2019
Repairing old musical instruments probably doesn't pose many occupational hazards, but the ones that are present sure are ... interesting.
Eliot Curtis, a broadcast operations manager for San Francisco-based CBS television affiliate, recently discovered in the most unintentional of ways (so he claims) that LSD can retain its potency for a long, long time.
Curtis recently took home a long-neglected vintage Buchla Model 100 modular synthesizer from Cal State University which one professor described as looking "like a shipwreck."
While evaluating the instrument for repairs, Curtis discovered what he described as "a crust or crystalline residue" inside a red module that had been added to the machine as a modification. He sprayed the stuff with cleaner and began scratching it off with his finger. About 45 minutes later, he began to feel strange.
"It was... felt like I was tripping on LSD," Curtis told KPIX 5.
He had unwittingly dosed himself with acid and was heading on a trip that would last at least nine hours.
His patient wife, Holly, who witnessed the whole thing called the episode "super wild" and a "nice chapter in the history of the counter culture."
Legend has long held that some late-'60s psychedelic musicians would store LSD on their instruments, then lick their fingers to get a bit of inspiration. Turns out that's true!
Tests done on the crystalline substance confirmed it was LSD. One expert told KPIX that the drug can be ingested through the skin under certain conditions. He also confirmed that LSD has been known to remain potent for decades if stored in cool, dark places.
What's more, the synthesizer itself may be connected to one of the most legendary psychedelic Bay Area bands, The Grateful Dead.
KPIX notes that synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla, for whom the Buchla Model 100 is named, was closed with the Grateful Dead and good friends with the band's legendary sound engineer Owsley Stanley.
Stanley was a bit of chemist himself and was known in the '60s for making some of the best LSD you could get. The connections are pretty compelling, but with neither Buchla or Stanley still with us, we'll probably never know for sure.
Once Curtis returned to his body from his trip, he said he finished repairing the synthesizer and cleaning off the LSD wearing gloves.
The instrument was then returned to the Cal State music department.
Photo: Getty Images