Nicholas Saunders, businessman and alternative culture guru, died in a road accident on February 3 aged 60.He was born on January 25, 1938.

NICHOLAS SAUNDERS is best known as the writer of E for Ecstasy (1993) and Ecstasy and the Dance Culture (1995). He also created a website to provide information, positive and negative, to a public increasingly interested in Ecstasy and other recreational drugs.
He spent the last years of his life experimenting cautiously with Ecstasy and other hallucinogenic drugs; to which he felt himself to be indebted. He felt his first Ecstasy experience to have been an impetus in a lifelong search for self realisation. It was typical of Saunders that he would share his personal experience and the information he researched.
Starting in 1970, Saunders pioneered and published AIternative, the forerunner of such publications as Time Out. The spirit of the Sixties excited his sensibilities and he felt it vital to share his experience with as many people as possible. AIternative London's many editions appealed to a whole generation of experimenters, in much the same way that Ecstasy and the Dance Culture does today.
Alternative London was published from his home base, an extraordinary flat in World's End, Chelsea. The house was a shrine to both his design skills and his love of animals. A large pond ran from the garden into the sitting room, where ducks swam and dived among bemused visitors; upstairs a family of rabbits played on the roof garden.
After a fire caused by one of his most bemused visitors, he relocated his domestic zoo to Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, in 1976, when it was an almost derelict collection of warehouses.
Neal's Yard will always be linked with Saunders's name. He lived and worked in the Yard, renovating decayed warehouses. The buildings he created are reminders of an eccentric nature which was forever juggling a love of city life with a romantic attachment to the pastoral. The facades are festooned with sweet peas, geraniums, clematis and sunflowers in season.
Saunders had foreseen the emergence of Covent Garden as the "new place". Feeling he sensed a trend towards a more holistic way of life, he created a bulk buying wholefood warehouse, offering healthy food at the lowest possible prices. Thereafter followed a string of businesses which are testament to his entrepreneurial insights.
His interest lay in designing the simplest and most effective systems to get these businesses off the ground. But once they were operational, he handed them over to friends and colleagues, many of whom owe their success to his inspiration and help. He recently created a self-contained guest flat in his house for the many friends he had made on his extensive travels.
Several years ago he bought a forest in Surrey, the outcome of having spent many Saturdays walking in woodlands within easy access of London. It was on one such walk that he met and fell in love with Anja Dashwood, with whom he was to live until his death.
He had been recently researching a book about hallucinogenic plants and ritual practices among various religious sects; this work took him and Anja on many adventurous journeys across the US, South America and Europe.
It was on one such journey of exploration, this time to South Africa, that he was killed in a car accident.
He leaves behind his partner, Anja, and a son from a previous relationship.