Nearly everyone familiar with the history of the 1960s has heard of Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey, who spread the gospel of psychedelics to the countercultural generation. But far fewer recall Owsley Stanley.

Stanley, who died Saturday at age 76, was arguably as pivotal as Leary and Kesey for altering minds in the mad ’60s. His name was synonymous with the ultimate high as a copious producer of what Rolling Stone once called “the best LSD in the world … the genuine Owsley.”

He reputedly made more than a million doses of the drug, much of which fueled Kesey’s notorious Acid Tests – rollicking parties featuring psychedelic substances, strobe lights and music. Tom Wolfe immortalized Stanley as the “Acid King” in the 1968 counterculture classic “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”

The music that rocked Kesey’s events was made by the Grateful Dead, the iconic rock band of the era that also bears Stanley’s imprint.

His chief impact on the band stemmed not merely from supplying it with top-grade LSD but also from his technical genius: As the Dead’s early sound engineer, Stanley, nicknamed “Bear,” developed what he called the “wall of sound,” essentially a massive public address system that reduced distortion and enabled the musicians on stage to mix from the stage and monitor their playing.

Owsley was “someone who would go to almost any length, beyond what anyone would think reasonable, to pursue the goal of perfection … sonic perfection, the finest planet earth ever saw,” Grateful Dead publicist Dennis McNally said Monday.

“Furthermore, the greater San Francisco scene never would have been what it was without the opportunity for thousands of people to experience psychedelics, which would not have happened without Bear.”

Stanley was driving in a storm near the town of Mareeba in Queensland, Australia, when he lost control and crashed, said Sam Cutler, a longtime friend and former Grateful Dead tour manager. He died at the scene, while his wife, Sheilah, sustained minor injuries.

Described by Cutler as a man who held “very firm beliefs about potential disasters,” Stanley relocated to Australia in the 1970s because he believed it was the safest place to avoid a new ice age.

In his later years he was mainly a sculptor and jeweler, whose works were sought by many in the music industry, including the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Cutler said.

“He was an amalgam of scientist and engineer, chemist and artist,” Cutler said.

With artist Bob Thomas, Stanley designed the Dead’s distinctive logo — a skull emblazoned with a lightning bolt. He also recorded about 100 of the band’s performances and once said that he considered preserving the live concerts one of his most important accomplishments.

Born Augustus Owsley Stanley III in Kentucky on Jan. 19, 1935, he was a Kentucky governor’s grandson. He was dubbed “Bear” as a youth, reputedly because his chest hair grew before his friends’ did.

He studied engineering briefly at the University of Virginia before leaving to join the Air Force. After completing his stint in 1958, he moved to California, worked at a variety of jobs and studied ballet, Russian and French.

He enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley in 1963 and got his first taste of LSD in April 1964. “I walked outside,” he told Rolling Stone in 2007, “and the cars were kissing the parking meters.”

That experience convinced him that he needed a trustworthy supply. At the campus library, he found a recipe. Then, with a chemistry major named Melissa Cargill, he began making a very pure form of the drug.

His lab was raided twice; he spent two years in prison. According to McNally, the Grateful Dead’s publicist, Stanley estimated he’d produced enough LSD to provide about 1.25 million doses from 1965 to 1967.

After his release from prison in 1972, he began working on a new sound system, a collection of speakers and microphones that channeled the music through a single cluster of equipment. It was too costly for the Dead to sustain, but concert equipment makers later adopted his ideas.

Stanley was briefly the Dead’s main financial backer. A 1966 Los Angeles Times profile and other accounts described him as an LSD millionaire, a status he denied. But it inspired a Dead song, “Alice D. Millionaire.”

He also was immortalized in a Steely Dan composition, “Kid Charlemagne,” and in Jimi Hendrix’s recording of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper,” in which Hendrix can be heard asking, “Owsley, can you hear me now?”

Stanley downplayed his influence on the psychedelic explosion, explaining that he began producing LSD only to ensure the quality of what he ingested.

“Almost before I realized what was happening, the whole affair had gotten completely out of hand. I was riding a magic stallion. A Pegasus,” he told Rolling Stone. “I was not responsible for his wings, but they did carry me to all kinds of places.”