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The Beatles Psychedelic Poster
24 x 36 inches
This poster is in brand new condition
& ships rolled inside a sturdy mailing tube.
I never felt any responsibility, being a so-called idol. It's wrong of people to expect it. What they are doing is putting their responsibilities on us, as Paul said to the newspapers when he admitted taking LSD. If they were worried about him being responsible, they should have been responsible enough and not printed it, if they were genuinely worried about people copying.
John Lennon, 1967
While The Beatles were no strangers to drugs prior to 1965, their introduction to LSD caused a major shift in their music, personalities and public perception.
The precise date of their first encounter is unknown, although it's likely to have been between March and July 1965. It is known, however, that it took place at Flat 1, 2 Strathearn Place, London W2, in the home of 34-year-old cosmetic dentist John Riley.
Riley invited John and Cynthia Lennon, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd to dinner. After the meal he gave them coffee laced with LSD, which at the time was little-known and still legal.
He laid it on George, me and our wives without telling us at a dinner party at his house. He was a friend of George's, and our dentist at the time. He just put it in our coffee or something. He didn't know what it was, it was just, 'It's all the thing,' with the middle-class London swingers. They had all heard about it and didn't know it was different from pot or pills. And they gave it to us, and he was saying, 'I advise you not to leave,' and we thought he was trying to keep us for an orgy in his house and we didn't want to know.
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
After the meal the five, along with Riley's 22-year-old girlfriend Cindy Bury, adjourned from the flat's small dining room into the lounge. On the mantelpiece six sugar cubes had been carefully lined up. The cubes, each of which contained a dose of LSD, were slipped into the guests' coffees.
Riley's LSD supply had been manufactured at a farmhouse in Wales. His intention was to be the first person to 'turn on' The Beatles, in the comfort of his flat, but his plans backfired when his guests insisted on leaving for the Pickwick Club at 15-18 Great Newport Street, WC2.
One night John, Cynthia, Pattie and I were having dinner at the dentist's house. Later that night we were going to a London nightclub called the Pickwick Club. It was a little restaurant with a small stage where some friends of ours were playing. Klaus Voormann, Gibson Kemp (who became Rory Storm's drummer after we stole Ringo) and a guy called Paddy. They had a little trio.
After dinner I said to John, 'Let's go - they're going to be on soon,' and John said 'OK', but the dentist was saying, 'Don't go; you should stay here.' And then he said, 'Well, at least finish your coffee first.' So we finished our coffee and after a while I said again, 'Come on, it's getting late - we'd better go.' The dentist said something to John and John turned to me and said, 'We've had LSD.'
I just thought, 'Well, what's that? So what? Let's go!'
This fella was still asking us to stay and it all became a bit seedy - it felt as if he was trying to get something happening in his house; that there was some reason he didn't want us to go. In fact, he had obtained some lysergic acid diethylamide 25. It was, at the time, an unrestricted medication - I seem to recall that I'd heard vaguely about it, but I didn't really know what it was, and we didn't know we were taking it. The bloke had put it in our coffee: mine, John's, Cynthia's and Pattie's. He didn't take it. He had never had it himself. I'm sure he thought it was an aphrodisiac. I remember his girlfriend had enormous breasts and I think he thought that there was going to be a big gang-bang and that he was going to get to shag everybody. I really think that was his motive.
So the dentist said, 'OK, leave your car here. I'll drive you and then you can come back later.' I said 'No, no. We'll drive.' And we all got in my car and he came as well, in his car. We got to the nightclub, parked and went in.
We'd just sat down and ordered our drinks when suddenly I feel 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.
One thing led to another, then suddenly it felt as if a bomb had made a direct hit on the nightclub and the roof had been blown off: 'What's going on here?' I pulled my senses together and I realised that the club had actually closed - all the people had gone, they'd put the lights on, and the waiters were going round bashing the tables and putting the chairs on top of them. We thought, 'Oops, we'd better get out of here!'
From the Pickwick Club the party went on to the Ad Lib on 7 Leicester Place, a popular destination among London's stars. They had arranged to meet Ringo Starr there.
We went out to the Ad Lib and these discotheques and there was incredible things going on. This guy [Riley] came with us, he was nervous, he didn't know what was going on. We were going crackers. It was insane going around London on it. When we entered the club, we thought it was on fire. And then we thought it was a premiere, but it was just an ordinary light outside. We thought, 'Shit, what's going on here?' And we were cackling in the street, and then people were shouting, 'Let's break a window.' We were just insane. We were just out of our heads. We finally got in the lift and we all thought there was a fire in the lift. It was just a little red light, and we were all screaming - it was hysterical. We all arrived on the floor, 'cause this was a discotheque that was up a building. The lift stops and the door opens and we're all going 'Aaahhhh' [loud scream], and we just see that it's the club, and then we walk in, sit down, and the table's elongating. I think we went to eat before that, where the table went this long, just like I'd read somebody - who is it, Blake, is it? - somebody describing the effects of the opium in the old days. And I thought, 'Fuck, it's happening.' And then we went to the Ad Lib and all that. And then some singer came up to me and said, 'Can I sit next to you?' And I was going, [loudly] 'Only if you don't talk,' 'cause I just couldn't think.
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
When the Ad Lib Club closed in the early hours of the following morning, George Harrison drove the others home in Pattie's orange Mini Cooper S, which he had given to her as a present.
It was daylight and I drove everyone home - I was driving a Mini with John and Cynthia and Pattie in it. I seem to remember we were doing eighteen miles an hour and I was really concentrating - because some of the time I just felt normal and then, before I knew where I was, it was all crazy again. Anyway, we got home safe and sound, and somewhere down the line John and Cynthia got home. I went to bed and lay there for, like, three years.
John Lennon revealed more about the journey to George's in his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone magazine.
George somehow or another managed to drive us home in his Mini. We were going about ten miles an hour, but it seemed like a thousand. And Pattie was saying, 'Let's jump out and play football, there's these big rugby poles' and things like that. I was getting all this sort of hysterical jokes coming out, like with speed, because I was always on that, too.
George was going, 'Don't make me laugh!' Oh God! It was just terrifying. But it was fantastic. I did some drawings at the time - I've got them somewhere - of four faces and 'we all agree with you,' things like that. I gave them to Ringo, I've lost the originals. I did a lot of drawing that night - just like that. And then George's house seemed to be just like a big submarine. I was driving it - they all went to bed and I was carrying on on me own - it seemed to float above his wall, which was eighteen foot, and I was driving it. And the second time we had acid in LA, which was different.
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
Lennon's wife Cynthia remembered the occasion less fondly.
John and I weren't capable of getting back to Kenwood from there, so the four of us sat up for the rest of the night as the walls moved, the plants talked, other people looked like ghouls and time stood still. It was horrific: I hated the lack of control and not knowing what was going on or what would happen next.
Although Cynthia only had one subsequent experience with LSD, her husband became a regular user. Lennon's infatuation with the drug eventually created distance between the couple.
When John was tripping I felt as if I was living with a stranger. He would be distant, so spaced-out that he couldn't talk to me coherently. I hated that, and I hated the fact that LSD was pulling him away from me. I wouldn't take it with him so he found others who would. Within weeks of his first trip, John was taking LSD daily and I became more and more worried. I couldn't reach him when he was tripping, but when the effects wore off he would be normal until he took it again.
George Harrison later claimed that the shared experience of LSD brought him and Lennon closer together.
After taking acid together, John and I had a very interesting relationship. That I was younger or I was smaller was no longer any kind of embarrassment with John. Paul still says, 'I suppose we looked down on George because he was younger.' That is an illusion people are under. It's nothing to do with how many years old you are, or how big your body is. It's down to what your greater consciousness is and if you can live in harmony with what's going on in creation. 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 contract with John; but on the odd occasion I did see him, just by the look in his eyes I felt we were connected.
The Beatles had their second encounter with LSD on 24 August 1965, on a break from their US tour. On this occasion Paul McCartney declined, but Ringo Starr decided to partake. He was looked after by Neil Aspinall during his first trip.
Paul felt very out of it 'cause we were all a bit cruel. It's like, 'We're taking it and you're not.' We couldn't eat our food. I just couldn't manage it. Picking it up with our hands, and there's all these people serving us in the house, and we're just knocking it on the floor - oh! - like that. It was a long time before Paul took it. And then there was the big announcement. I think George was pretty heavy on it. We were probably both the most cracked. I think Paul's a bit more stable than George and I. I don't know about straight. Stable. I think LSD profoundly shocked him.
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
The Beatles held an afternoon party in Los Angeles on 24 August, with guests including Eleanor Bron, The Byrds and journalist Don Short. Also there was actor Peter Fonda, whose tale of accidentally shooting himself as a child while playing with a gun later inspired the song She Said She Said.
LSD had a profound effect on The Beatles' songwriting and recording. The first-released song to mention it was Day Tripper, but over time its influence resulted in less explicit and more abstract references to acid. The Beatles increasingly tapped into the burgeoning counterculture of 1966, and the first song recorded for Revolver was the psychedelic Tomorrow Never Knows, featured lyrics adapted from Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert's 1964 book The Psychedelic Experience, itself a modern reworking of the ancient Tibetan Book of the Dead.
The song perhaps most often associated with The Beatles' use of LSD is Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. While the group always denied that the title was a reference to acid - Lennon and McCartney both maintained it was inspired by a painting drawn by Julian Lennon and named after a schoolfriend - there is little doubt that the Through The Looking Glass imagery was the product of drug intake.
Lennon only took LSD once in the studio, unwittingly, on 21 March 1967 during a recording session for the Sgt Pepper song Getting Better.
I thought I was taking some uppers, and I was not in a state of handling it. I can't remember what album it was but I took it and then [whispers] I just noticed all of a sudden I got so scared on the mike. I said, 'What was it?' I thought I felt ill. I thought I was going cracked. Then I said, 'I must 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. I must have taken acid. And I said, 'Well, I can't go on, I have to go.' So I just said, 'You'll have to do it and I'll just stay and watch.' I just [became] very nervous and just watching all of a sudden. 'Is it alright?' and they were saying, 'Yeah.' They were all being very kind. They said, 'Yes, it's alright.' And I said, 'Are you sure it's alright?' They carried on making the record.
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
In fact, the session was stopped once The Beatles realised that Lennon was tripping. Lennon's car was not at the studio, and so McCartney took him to his nearby home at Cavendish Avenue.
I thought, Maybe this is the moment where I should take a trip with him. It's been coming for a long time. It's often the best way, without thinking about it too much, just slip into it. John's on it already, so I'll sort of catch up. It was my first trip with John, or with any of the guys. We stayed up all night, sat around and hallucinated a lot.
Me and John, we'd known each other for a long time. Along with George and Ringo, we were best mates. And we looked into each other's eyes, the eye contact thing we used to do, which is fairly mind-boggling. You dissolve into each other. But that's what we did, round about that time, that's what we did a lot. And it was amazing. You're looking into each other's eyes and you would want to look away, but you wouldn't, and you could see yourself in the other person. It was a very freaky experience and I was totally blown away.
There's something disturbing about it. You ask yourself, 'How do you come back from it? How do you then lead a normal life after that?' And the answer is, you don't. After that you've got to get trepanned or you've got to meditate for the rest of your life. You've got to make a decision which way you're going to go.
I would walk out into the garden - 'Oh no, I've got to go back in.' It was very tiring, walking made me very tired, wasted me, always wasted me. But 'I've got to do it, for my well-being.' In the meantime John had been sitting around very enigmatically and I had a big vision of him as a king, the absolute Emperor of Eternity. It was a good trip. It was great but I wanted to go to bed after a while.
I'd just had enough after about four or five hours. John was quite amazed that it had struck me in that way. John said, 'Go to bed? You won't sleep!' 'I know that, I've still got to go to bed.' I thought, now that's enough fun and partying, now ... It's like with drink. That's enough. That was a lot of fun, now I gotta go and sleep this off. But of course you don't just sleep off an acid trip so I went to bed and hallucinated a lot in bed. I remember Mal coming up and checking that I was all right. 'Yeah, I think so.' I mean, I could feel every inch of the house, and John seemed like some sort of emperor in control of it all. It was quite strange. Of course he was just sitting there, very inscrutably.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
On 17 June 1967 Life magazine published an interview with Paul McCartney in which he admitted having taken LSD. Two days later, following intense press attention, he gave an interview to Independent Television News in which he discussed his use of the drug and the media reaction.
I remember a couple of men from ITN showed up, and then the newscaster arrived: 'Is it true you've had drugs?' They were at my door - I couldn't tell them to go away - so I thought, 'Well, I'm either going to try to bluff this, or I'm going to tell him the truth.' I made a lightning decision: 'Sod it. I'll give them the truth.'
I spoke to the reporter beforehand, and said, 'You know what's going to happen here: I'm going to get the blame for telling everyone I take drugs. But you're the people who are going to distribute the news.' I said, 'I'll tell you. But if you've got any worries about the news having an effect on kids, then don't show it. I'll tell you the truth, but if you disseminate the whole thing to the public then it won't be my responsibility. I'm not sure I want to preach this but, seeing as you're asking - yeah, I've taken LSD.' I'd had it about four times at the stage, and I told him so. I felt it was reasonable, but it became a big news item.
The Beatles' use of LSD decreased after the 1967 Summer of Love. On 26 August that year they publicly renounced the use of drugs, pledging their belief in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's system of Transcendental Meditation instead.
Although their attempts at sobriety were short-lived, among John Lennon's reasons for his declining use of LSD was the number of bad trips he experienced, along with a gradual diminishing of his ego.
I had many. Jesus Christ. I stopped taking it 'cause of that. I mean I just couldn't stand it. I dropped it for I don't know how long. Then I started taking it just before I met Yoko. I got a message on acid that you should destroy your ego, and I did. I was reading that stupid book of Leary's and all that shit. We were going through a whole game that everybody went through. And I destroyed meself. I was slowly putting meself together after Maharishi, bit by bit, over a two-year period. And then I destroyed me ego and I didn't believe I could do anything. I let Paul do what he wanted and say, them all just do what they wanted. And I just was nothing, I was shit. And then Derek [Taylor] tripped me out at his house after he'd got back from LA. He said, 'You're alright.' And he pointed out which songs I'd written, and said, 'You wrote this, and you said this, and you are intelligent, don't be frightened.' The next week I went down with Yoko and we tripped out again, and she freed me completely, to realise that I was me and it's alright. And that was it. I started fighting again and being a loud-mouth again and saying, 'Well, I can do this,' and 'Fuck you, and this is what I want,' and 'Don't put me down. I did this.'
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
By the time of his death in 1980 Lennon had stopped taking LSD, but nonetheless defended it against common public perception of its effects.
A little mushroom or peyote is not beyond my scope, you know, maybe twice a year or something. But acid is a chemical. People are taking it, thought, even though you don't hear about it anymore. But people are still visiting the cosmos. It's just that nobody talks about it; you get sent to prison...
I've never met anybody who's had a flashback. I've never had a flashback in my life and I took millions of trips in the Sixties, and I've never met anybody who had any problem. I've had bad trips and other people have had bad trips, but I've had a bad trip in real life. I've had a bad trip on a joint. I can get paranoid just sitting in a restaurant. I don't have to take anything.
Acid is only real life in Cinemascope. Whatever experience you had is what you would have had anyway. I'm not promoting, all you committees out there, and I don't use it because it's chemical, but all the garbage about what it did to people is garbage.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff