As anyone who is at all familiar with The Beatles knows; all four Beatles smoked marijuana and used LSD and as you can imagine they have been quoted many times on how they feel about these drugs over the years. In this post I attempt to collect as many of those quotes as I can.
Some of these quotes are directly about their experiences while using marijuana & LSD, others are about how they feel about these drugs, and others are about how the use of these drugs influenced their music.
Ringo: Grass was really influential in a lot of our changes, especially with the writers. And because they were writing different material, we were playing differently. We were expanding in all ares of our lives, opening up to a lot of different attitudes.
Paul: One thing that he did introduce us to was pot… Bob came round to our hotel, and he said to us, “Here, try a bit of this.” It is very indiscreet to say this, because I don’t know whether Bob is telling people he turned The Beatles on to marijuana. But it was funny.
(the Bob Paul is referring to is, of course, Bob Dylan.)
John: Rubber Soul was the pot album, and Revolver the acid.
George: The first time we took LSD was an accident. It happened sometime in 1965, between albums and tours. We were innocent victims of the wicked dentist whom we’d met and had dinner with a few times.
John: Bob Dylan had heard one of our records where we said, “I can’t hide,” and he had understood, “I get high.” He came running sand said to us, “Right, guys, I’ve got some really good grass.” How could you not dig a bloke like that? He thought we were used to drugs. We smoked and laughed all night. He kept answering our phone, saying, “This is Beatlemania here.” It was ridiculous.
(the song he’s referring to is “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”)
John: We were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. Nobody could communicate with us; it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time. In our own world.
(he’s referring to when they were filming the Help! movie.)
George: Suddenly I felt the most incredible feeling come over me. It was something like a very concentrated version of the best feeling I’d ever had in my whole life. It was fantastic. I felt in love, not with anything or anybody in particular, but with everything. Everything was perfect, in a perfect light, and I had an overwhelming desire to go round the club telling everybody how much I loved them – people I’d never seen before.
George: It felt as if the elevator was on fire and we were going to hell (and it was and we were), but at the same we were all in hysteric and crazy.
(in the above two quotes George was talking about the first time he did LSD.)
John: A dentist in London laid acid on George, me, and our wives. He just put it in our coffee or something… He gave us it, and he was saying, “I advise you not to leave.” We thought he was trying to keep us for an orgy in his house.
Ringo: I was actually there in the club when John and George got there shouting, “The lift’s on fire!” Acid was the best thing we could take after that!
John: George’s house seemed to be just like a big submarine I was driving.
Ringo: I’d take anything. A couple of guys came to visit us in LA, and it was them that said, “Man you’ve got to try this.” They had it in a bottle with an eye dropper and they dropped it on sugar cubes and gave it to us. That was my first trip. It was with John and George and Neil and Mal.
(that’s Neil Aspinall & Mal Evans.)
George: The first time I had acid, a light bulb went on in my head and I began to have realizations which were not simply, “I think I’ll do this,” or “I think that must be because of that.” The question and answer disappeared into each other. An illumination goes on inside: in ten minutes I lived a thousand years. My brain and my consciousness and my awareness were pushed so far out that the only way I could begin to describe it is like an astronaut on the moon, or in his space ship, looking back at the Earth. I was looking back to the Earth from my awareness.
Paul: Pot and LSD were the two other major influences. Instead of getting totally out of it and falling over, as we would have done on Scotch, we’d end up talking very seriously and having a good time till three in the morning.
John: I got home from the studio stoned out of my mind on marijuana, and, as I usually do, I listened to what I’d recorded that day. Somehow I got it on backwards and I sat there, transfixed, with the earphones on, with a big hash joint. I ran in the next day and said, “I know what to do with it, I know… Listen to this!” So I made them all play it backwards.
(he’s referring to “Rain.”)
John: We must always remember to thank the CIA and the army for LSD, by the way. Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn’t it? They brought out LSD to control people, and what they did was give us freedom.
George: If I had half a chance, I’d put acid in the Government’s tea.
Ringo: I think LSD changes everybody. It certainly makes you look at things differently. It makes you look at yourself and your feelings and emotions. And it brought me closer to nature, in a way – the force of nature and its beauty. You realize it’s not just a tree; it’s a living thing. My outlook certainly changed – and you dress differently, too!
John: I must have had a thousand trips. I just used to eat it all the time. I stopped taking it because of bad trips. I just couldn’t stand it. I dropped it for I don’t know how long, and I started taking it again just before I met Yoko.
George: I don’t think John had a thousand trips; that’s a slight exaggeration. But there was a period when we took acid a lot… After taking acid together, John and I had a very interesting relationship… John and I spent a lot of time together from then on and I felt closer to him than all the others, right through until his death. As Yoko came into the picture, I lost a lot of personal contact with John; but on the odd occasion I did see him, just by the look in his eyes I felt we were connected.
John: I think that was one of his best songs too, because the lyrics were good – and I didn’t write them…. It actually describes his experience taking acid. I think that’s what he’s talking about.
Paul: It was a song about pot, actually.
(the song that John & Paul were talking about in the above two quotes is “Got To Get You Into My Life.”)
John: I never took it in the studio. Once I did, actually. I thought I was taking some uppers and I was not in the state of handling it. I took it and I suddenly got so cared on the mic. I said, “what is it? I feel ill.” I thought I felt ill and I thought I was going cracked. I said I must go and get some air. They all took me upstairs on the roof, and George Martin was looking at me funny, and then it dawned on me that I must have taken some acid.
George: I was only 23 when we made Sgt. Pepper, and I’d already been through India and LSD and was on the road to transcendentalism. After having such an intense period of growing up much success in The Beatles and realizing that this wasn’t the answer to everything, the question came: What is it all about?” And then, purely because of the force-fed LSD experience, I had the realization of God.
Paul: I think the “Just say no” mentality is so crazed. I saw a thing in a women’s magazine the other day. “He smokes cannabis, what am I to do? He laughs it off when I try to tell him, he says it’s not really harmful…” Of course you’re half hoping the advice will be, “Well, you know it’s not that harmful; if you love him, if you talk to him about it, tell him maybe keep it in the garden shed or something,” you know, a reasonable point of view. But of course it was, “No, no, all drugs are bad. All drugs are bad. Librium’s good, Valium’s good, ciggies are good, vodka’s good. But cannabis, ooooh!” I hate that unreasoned attitude. I really can’t believe it’s 30 years since the ’60s. I find it staggering. It’s like the future, the ’60s to me, it’s like it hasn’t happened. I feel the ’60s are about to arrive. And we’re in some sort of time warp and it’s still going to happen.
BTW: As of this writing, both of The Beatles box sets are sold out on Amazon, but there is an alternative: Try CCMusic.com