Riding So High – The Beatles and Drugs
If you're enjoying this feature, read the full story! Riding So High – The Beatles and Drugs charts the Beatles’ extraordinary odyssey from teenage drinking and pill-popping, to cannabis, LSD, the psychedelic Summer of Love and the darkness beyond.
The only full-length study of the Beatles and drugs, Riding So High tells of getting stoned, kaleidoscope eyes, excess, loss and redemption, with a far-out cast including speeding Beatniks, a rogue dentist, a script-happy aristocratic doctor, corrupt police officers and Hollywood Vampires.
Available as an ebook and paperback (364 pages). By the creator of the Beatles Bible. Click on the image below for more information or to order.
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 18 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.
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.