Sunday, June 18, 2017

Paul's LSD interview --- when did it happen and why?

As fan of the Beatles, we are all well aware that illegal drugs played a part in their life.   While lately it seems like this part of the story has been skipped over, it was a big part of the Beatles' and their associates lives.     I have always believed that drug usage in 1967 is way different than drug usage in 2017.   And while I personally don't condone it at all and have never taken any illegal substance myself, I accept that it was part of the Beatles creativity and history.

Paul McCartney was the last of the four Beatles to try LSD.    John and George, along with their wives, took it in 1965 when their dentist slipped some into their drinks without their knowledge.   That summer, when the Beatles were touring North America,  Ringo joined John and George in taking LSD.      They tried to pressure Paul into doing it with them, but he refused.    It wasn't until Paul was with Tara Browne that he actually tried LSD for the first time.     He took it again on  21 March ---during that infamous time when John accidentally took some, thinking they were uppers and George Martin took him up on the roof of EMI for some fresh air.    They called off the session and Paul took John back to his house and decided to partake together.

Ten days later, On March 31st, a reporter named Thomas Thompson of Britain's Queen magazine spent some time talking to the Beatles for an article that would be published a few months later.   In his article, which was reprinted in the June 16, 1967 issue of Life in the United States, he writes the following:

Paul, 24, the unmarried Beatle, is also the only one that lives in London -- the others having become suburban squires.   He is swept up in London's so called swinging world, goes to dinner parties and discotheques and talks about art and football.   He is very much aware of the world's troubles, and has his own ideas of what it will take to straighten everything out.  For example, he professes agony over the war in Vietnam, and is deeply committed to the possibilities of LSD as a universal cure-all. 
"After I took it, It opened my eyes, " he says, "we only use one tenth of our brain.  Just think what we could accomplish if we could only tap that hidden part!  It would mean a whole new world.  If the politicians would take LSD, there wouldn't be any more war, poverty or famine."

This is a pretty bold claim, especially from a guy that originally was too scared to take LSD in the first place.     Now he has taken it at least twice and he thinks every politician should join him.    So what he had to say in this article caused a few ripples at the time.    On Paul's birthday, June 18, 1967 ITN evening news stopped by to talk to Mr. McCartney about what he had to say about LSD.    Paul is seen sitting in his back yard in a swivel chair.  He is wearing a green shirt and is pretty relaxed.

Everywhere you look online, you will find that this interview took place on June 19, 1967.    It is my belief that the interview took place on June 18 and was broadcast on June 19.     Photographs show  McCartney wearing the exact same clothing that he wore when he is opening birthday cards inside his house.     There are other photos from that day of him in his yard with Martha.     And then these photos of him sitting in that swivel chair and the big reason why I believe it to be on June 18, is because in one of the photographs you can see a microphone attached to him as he is sitting in the chair.  

What happened in this interview?    Paul says that he has taken LSD four time and he won't tell the reporter where he got it.    Then he places the blame of spreading this news onto the reporters,

Mmm, but the thing is -- I was asked a question by a newspaper, and the decision was whether to tell a lie or tell him the truth. I decided to tell him the truth... but I really didn't want to say anything, you know, because if I had my way I wouldn't have told anyone. I'm not trying to spread the word about this. But the man from the newspaper is the man from the mass medium. I'll keep it a personal thing if he does too you know... if he keeps it quiet. But he wanted to spread it so it's his responsibility, you know, for spreading it not mine.

And Paul does make a good point.   People get mad at celebrities for not being honest.   Paul makes the decision to be honest with the reporters and they decide what the next move will be.    However, I really don't think any reporter sees it that way at all.   They want that big scoop.

Then the reporter asks if Paul thinks that the fans will be taking drugs now that Paul said that he did. That  basically Paul has a responsibility to  keep kids off drugs.

No, it's you who've got the responsibility. You've got the responsibility not to spread this NOW. You know, I'm quite prepared to keep it as a very personal thing if you will too. If you'll shut up about it, I will.

The whole ordeal blew over fairly quickly and is now just an interesting footnote in Beatles history.  


  1. The pictures you've posted were definitely taken on Monday, 19 June 1967 in the back yard at Cav Ave - the ones of the fans outside mobbing Paul and Mike were taken on his birthday Sunday, June 18. The LSD story, thanks to tabloid papers like the Daily Mirror whose copyright these pics are, really blew the incident up in their edition of the 19th with an editorial admonishing Paul for not setting an example. The Mirror's showbiz man, Don Short, went with Mirror photographer to interview Paul at home and the ITN crew were there as well. (The pics were in 20 June edition). Hope that's cleared that up.

  2. Just checked my files - the pics of Paul inside Cav Ave opening mail, holding a black kitten and leaving with Mike to go to De Lane Lea studio for McGough and McGear session were taken by Alisdair MacDonald on the 18th; the pics of Paul with kitten sitting on front porch at Cav Ave and the ITN 'LSD' were taken by Kaye (no first name given) on the 19th. Paul is wearing a patterned shirt and plimsolls on the 18th; 19th he is wearing slip-ons and a paisley shirt (or a "floral silk shirt and cherry red trousers" as Don Short describes it in his article published in the Mirror on the 20th). Easy to get these dates mistaken as being B&W images it looks like he's wearing the same clothes.

  3. It looks like the shirt he`s wearing on his birthday photos has epaulettes with white buttons, which I can`t see on the interview pics. What do you think ?

  4. hate drugs - use has hurt too many people I know and the only creativity was stealing to keep up the habit

  5. I wonder when the Queen magazine interview was published.

  6. Ah, found it: 19 July, 1967

    The reprint in 'Life' on 17th June, 1967 preceded the actual article...
    which makes me wonder: how did 'Life' find out about the article? I guess the owners of 'Queen' sold it.