The Experiment

A novel by Tony Bove

* iBook edition includes popups with links to songs in iTunes/Apple Music.

Kindle edition Print edition

Music playlists

About the novel

Review excerpts

“A deeply provocative alternate look at the 1960s.”

— Michael Gosney (Digital Be-In and Synergetic Press)

“A fabulously innovative work, both in substance and style… Historical characters and Bove’s own creations drive the novel forward with the gonzo bravado of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer… The iBooks edition embeds links to the music that is so important to the story and it’s hard to imagine a better use of e-book technology.”

— Ken Sonenclar, author, Bombs & Believers

“It takes you places and gets you thinking about how music develops and how it gets is passed down from one generation to the next in a way I had never considered before. Clearly a ton of research has gone into this book, and if you’re a fan of the Sixties (the music, the time, the spirit) you will love the thousand nuggets that you’ll happily stumble across as the story unfolds.

— Rodney Osborne, author, Straw Men

Q&A with the author

For an overview, read Q&A with the Author: The Awesome Responsibility of Musicians.


Cornell Woodrow, keeper of the secrets of the blues, taught many of the prominent Sixties rock musicians that our most spiritual impulses are guided by music. “We aspire toward something unreachable, out at the limits of matter and energy. We play music in order to tap into the vibrations of the planet and the vibrancy of our lives. We work together in a grand experiment.”

Part allegory, part satire, part fantasy, part history, and all fiction, The Experiment sheds new light on the rock music revolution of the Sixties and many of its heroes and villains. The novel traces the evolution of rock, and unveils the voodoo that gives this music a special power. It began as a seed planted by High John the Conqueror, the rolling stone who carried the traditions and ancestor spirits to the New World. Against all odds, High John tricked his enslavers and the Corporation’s ministers to grow a new, powerful music that would inspire a cultural revolution.

The murder of a popular radio personality, and the appearance of the mysterious Cornell, galvanizes three teenagers into a rebellion that pits father against son and unites them in a quest for answers. Together they form the Archetypes, with Reggie as the leftist radical, Johnny B as the influential guru of the bass guitar, and Gilbert as Gilgamesh the Digger and lifestyle artist. They help the Beatles and the Rolling Stones find their musical voices, show Bob Dylan the way into electric folk, and lend a hand to Cornell’s wide-ranging experiments with Robert Johnson proteges in the Sixties rock scene. Along the way they meet Timothy Leary, set up an LSD factory, march on the Pentagon, and rescue a special stash from dagger-wielding Manson girls in Death Valley, just in time to save the Woodstock Festival from drowning in bad acid.

All the while they are dogged by agents of the Corporation, who are conducting a counter-experiment against Cornell to stop the spread of music and enlightenment, or somehow control it, through espionage, subterfuge, and murder. One of them has followed Reggie and Gilbert since childhood and tries to recruit them to infiltrate radical groups. At the end of the Sixties the musicians have become distracted, the radicals have turned violent, and the Corporation is poised to corrupt Cornell’s noble experiment…

Why a musical novel?

The novel is a musical novel because music is an essential part of it, adding another dimension of irony and commentary to the story. The Apple iBook edition is itself an experiment: On an iPad or iPhone, you can tap links to listen to over 300 songs while reading. Playlists in iTunes and Spotify are provided (see links above) for those who read the printed or Kindle editions.

The author encourages readers to search the internet for the people, places, events, facts, conspiracies, and other secrets referenced in the novel. You may be surprised to learn how much of this fiction is considered fact.