Leo Zeff Remembered by Terence McKenna
Audio Excerpt from Zeff’s Memorial (April 17, 1988)
“I felt when I stood near Leo, that I stood near a giant. And what the experience of standing near a giant was, was the experience of the wisest, kindest, gentlest, funniest man that I have ever had the privilege to know.”
— Terence McKenna, April 17, 1988
During the process of digitizing audio tapes from the Stolaroff Collection, we discovered a recording of the memorial held on April 17, 1988 for Leo Zeff. Finding this tape seemed particularly poignant, since Myron Stolaroff wrote a book about Zeff’s work based on transcripts of conversations between the two: The Secret Chief: Conversations with a Pioneer of the Underground Psychedelic Therapy Movement. In the 1997 first edition of that book, Zeff’s identity truly was secret; it remained hidden behind the pseudonym “Jacob” in order to protect those who may have been connected in some manner to the work that he had done. However, when the revised second printing of the book was produced in 2004, enough time had passed for Zeff’s family to feel comfortable with allowing his name to be revealed, and he received the public recognition that he so richly deserves.
It was Terence McKenna who first honored Zeff by calling him “the Secret Chief”. Stolaroff asked McKenna if he could use his pseudonym as the title of his book on Zeff, and McKenna was happy to see the meme spread in this way. Zeff passed away on April 13, 1988. The audio file from the Stolaroff Collection hosted here is excerpted from remembrances from his memorial; it features McKenna commenting about how impressed he was upon first meeting Zeff, and why he gave him the name “the Secret Chief”.