In the past couple of days I’ve found some more online pieces about the death of Chris Gray. I’ve also come across blog talk of a Guardian obituary that was supposed to appear on 21 May; there is no sign of it yet but I guess this may still materialise. The most comprehensive obit so far is by Charlie Radcliffe who was very close to Chris in the 1960s, had little contact with him for more than 30 years after that, then rekindled this intimate friendship seven years ago. Among the many interesting observations Charlie makes at The Void are the following:
“The Acid, published under the pseudonym of Sam by Vision Press this year, is as much a contribution to the politics of the new millennium as it is to psychedelic exploration… For Chris there was precious little contradiction between the one and the other and he saw The Acid as a rational and entirely logical development of his 60s and 70s political agenda… Chris continued his political life through the late 60s, before moving to India in 1969 to join Osho. Chris’ interesting account of this period of his life is in Osho (also by Sam!) His ‘retreat’ to India earned him the opprobrium of the ‘politically committed’ but a close reading of the book is enough to indicate that Chris never turned his back on his political convictions…”
Like Chariie, I can confirm that Chris remained ‘politically committed’ and that the revolutionary transformation of society was the focus of many of his conversations with me and a couple of other people I introduced him to. One time when I was rapping with Chris, he told me the reason he went to India was to finance the revolution. He journeyed east with the explicit intention of mailing dope back to London, so that this could be sold to raise money for political activities. Some gear was intercepted before the post office delivered it to its intended recipient, when Chris got wind of this he delayed his return home. He hadn’t planned on staying away from London as long as he did, but once the British authorities had marked his card, he faced a simple choice between living in India until the heat cooled off or being busted. This enforced stay in the east led Chris to an involvement with Buddhism and ultimately Osho. To the best of my knowledge, Charlie is right to say Chris left for India in 1969, but I would stress it wasn’t until the mid-seventies that he came across Osho (AKA Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh). To clarify further, my impression is that Chris had a period back in London after his first Indian trip before returning there and involving himself with Osho.
While I was aware that Chris had a long term involvement with Osho, this wasn’t something that came up in my conversations with him. Nonetheless, Osho was a major part of Chris’ life and an obit appeared on the Sannyas News site on 17 May 2009. This post opens with the following observation: “The main founder of the Sannyasnews website, Swami Paritosh (Chris Gray), usually known as Pari, and who for writing purposes used the pseudonym “Sam”, died in the London Hampstead Marie Curie Hospice (Eden Hall) last Thursday morning (May 14th). He had put up a brave struggle with cancer over the last 12 months. He was 67.”
A few more posts about Chris’ death can be found on the History Is Made At Night, Boredom Is Always Counter-Revolutionary and Artosphere blogs. If you want to read Life of Osho by Chris Gray there is a free download available online. New and used paperback copies of Life of Osho by Sam (Sannyas, London 1997) are still readily available and carry the following International Standard Book Numbering: ISBN-10: 0953153401 and ISBN-13: 978-0953153404; since you can get a new copy for £10, avoid the used book dealers who are charging £25 and more for it. Although I’m not convinced Osho or any other guru is worth following, I still found this book really interesting for the overtly political reading Chris gives of Bhagwan’s teachings, and for the brief account he provides of his own ‘kamikaze’ drug smuggling of the early eighties. The other book Chris wrote as Sam, The Acid: On Sustained Experiment with Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, or LSD, was officially published by Vision Press about six weeks ago but no copies appear to have been commercially distributed yet. The Acid carries the following International Standard Book Numbers: ISBN-10: 0956204902 and ISBN-13: 978-0956204905. I assume copies will become available in due course.
Christopher Nelson Gray, born 22 May 1942 in London; grew up in Crosby, Liverpool, and raised by his grandmother. Educated at Repton. Died in London on 14 May 2009.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!