The first experience George Harrison had with LSD
Beatles guitarist George Harrison talked in an interview with Creem Magazine back in 1987 about his first experience with LSD and why it wasn’t him who introduced the band to the hallucinogenic.
George Harrison talked about his first experience with LSD:
Don’t you ever feel guilty about being the one who turned the Beatles on to LSD?
“It wasn’t really me. Let me tell you what happened: I had a dentist who invited me and John and our ex-wives to dinner. He had this acid he’d got off the guy who ran Playboy in London. And the Playboy guy had gotten it off, you know, the people who had it in America. What’s his name, Tim Leary. And this guy had never had it himself, didn’t know anything about it, but he thought it was an aphrodisiac and he had this girlfriend with huge breasts. He invited us down there with our blonde wives and I think he thought he was gonna have a scene. And he put it in our coffee without telling us—he didn’t take any himself.”
“We didn’t know we had it, and we’d made an arrangement earlier. After we had dinner we were gonna go to this nightclub to see some friends of ours who were playing in a band. And I was saying, “OK, let’s go, we’ve got to go,” and this guy kept saying, “No, don’t go, finish your coffee. Then, 20 minutes later or something, I’m saying, “C’mon John, we’d better go now. We’re gonna miss the show.”
“And he says we shouldn’t go ’cause we’ve had LSD. I’d heard about LSD, but it was before all the panic, everybody saying heaven and hell and all this stuff. So, fortunately, I didn’t care. And I could sense there was something weird going on. Then he said, “Well, OK then, we’ll come with you—I’ll drive you there, leave your car here.” And I said, “No, no wait a minute. I’m taking my car.” We went and he followed.”
“So we got to this place and we just sat down and I think ordered a drink and then suddenly something happened. I just got this overwhelming feeling, I couldn’t put my finger on why it was happening. But it was just like I was so in love with everything. I just felt so great I wanted to hug everybody and tell ’em how much I loved them. And then suddenly the room started moving a bit and stuff like that, and the next thing I remember it was like World War III was happening.”
“Bombs were dropping, all kinds of things, and I finally gathered my senses together and realized the club had closed. They’d put all the lights on and the waiters were going around putting all the chairs on top of the tables and sweeping the floors. We somehow got out of there and walked to this next club—the Ad Lib Club—it just went on forever. So John and I had it together. We’d heard of it, but we never knew what it was about and it was put in our coffee maliciously. So it really wasn’t us turning each other or the world or anything—we were the victims of silly people.”
How many times did you take LSD?
“Well, after that time, John and I started thinking, “Hey, how the heck are we gonna tell the others?” ’Cause, you know, there’s no way back after that. It’s like you can never return to being who you were before, thankfully. I think if you come out of it in one piece, then—well, it’s individual reactions—but what I gained was certainly worth the hardship it put me through. It scrambled my brain for a year—it seems like years, but you know how it stretches time. It was actually a few months of trying to piece it back together: what do I do now, what do we do now, who am I, what is all this?”
“Then we thought—since there’s no way you can describe it–how are we ever gonna tell Paul and Ringo and the rest of our direct entourage? We’ve got to get some more and give it to’em. So we got some more in New York, when we were on tour, and we got to Los Angeles, and we said, “OK lads (laughs), you’re gonna have to have this thing.” And one of them had to stay straight. Mal stayed straight and Neil and Ringo had it with us, but Paul didn’t wanna know. And then there was Jim McGuinn and David Crosby—that was our second time. There was also this guy, what’s him name?—Peter Fonda—who suddenly showed up.”
George Harrison continued, saying:
“I don’t think he was on it, but he should’ve been. Anyway, the third time I did it with a guy in England, and I thought “Ooh, I can’t do this anymore, this is too much.” I had a slight fear of it, as well. Then I was into India and meditating and all that, and after that I realized so many things. One of the things I’d heard about was fear. They said, “Look fear in the face and it won’t bother you anymore.” So I thought, well, I really do have a bit of a fear left over from this acid stuff, and I can’t go through the rest of my life fearing it, so I’d better take it again (laughs).”
“So I just took it and in that period of time—1967—we just seemed to be taking it all year, down at John’s house, ’round at Ringo’s house. I got to the point were I could drive this Ferrari around Hyde Park in peak hour traffic on acid and it wasn’t working anymore. All it did was give me a pain in the neck. I looked at some under a microscope and it looked like all this old rope. I thought, well, I’m not putting that in my brain anymore, and I just packed it in.”
George Harrison also said:
“The good stuff—the carpet flying up in the room and the chairs getting bigger and smaller. All that Roman Polanski movie stuff–stopped happening after I started to understand more about relativity and time and space. The fun had gone out of it, so I stopped doing it. I can’t imagine, if I hadn’t had it, how many years of normal life it would have taken to get me to the realizations: I might’ve never got them in this life.”
“It just opened the door and I experienced really good things. I mean, I never doubted God after that. Before, I was a cynic. I didn’t even say the word God; I thought “bullshit to all that stuff.” But after that, I knew. It was not even a question of “Is there possibly a God?”—I knew absolutely. It’s just that big light that goes off in your head,” George Harrison said.