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The Beatles' drug use after the break-up
9 July 2014
1.09pm
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Joe
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Hello. Does anyone have any info on Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr's drug use after 1970? What they did in the 60s is fairly well documented, but less so afterwards.

I know the obvious stuff - McCartney's Japanese bust, he said he gave up weed when Beatrice was born etc. I know about A Toot and a Snore in '74 ("It's going around, Stevie").

Can anyone give me anything on what each of them did, while avoiding unsubstantiated guesswork as much as possible? All info welcome. Here's what I know:

Lennon: is said to have struggled with heroin on and off after Cold Turkey . Is this confirmed anywhere? According to Fred Seaman Yoko was using it till the late 70s (possibly beyond). Lennon used cocaine often with Nilsson during the Lost Weekend (hence "D-RUG-S" building blocks on the cover of Pussy Cats). There's a quote in the All We Are Saying/Playboy interview where he says he mostly gave up psychedelics but occasionally used peyote.

McCartney - I know he and Linda were dedicated stoners. Am I right in thinking he was using coke after the break-up? There's a quote from a Q interview (2001) but I don't know what era it refers to:

PM: 'I was lucky to have Linda because she did ground me. There were certain things I was going off on that she could pull me back from.'

Q: Like what?

PM: 'Oh, just drinking and drugging and getting crazy. I just got into the habit, like you do. And when you're single you don't even think, is this a good idea? It's just what you do. Linda would say, 'Are you sure you want to do that tonight?' And I'd go, 'Oh, there's an alternative?' She reminded me there was this real life there that I liked a lot."

McCartney's big coke period was 1967, for about a year, so I guess it might be that he's referring to. The timeline would be about right, with the beginning of his relationship with Linda in 68.

Harrison: I've heard it said that he had a bit of a coke habit in the 70s. Again, is this confirmed anywhere? Did he ever discuss it in interviews? Did he go in for anything else? He claimed to have given up LSD after Maharishi but it's always hard to tell whether what they said publicly was actually true. I don't know if he kept on smoking marijuana till late in his life either.

Starr: AFAIK he mostly stuck to alcohol, obviously became an alcoholic until sobriety. Probably took his share of coke during the Lost Weekend, hanging out with Lennon, Nilsson and Moon.

Please, if anyone has good, reliable info, could they please share it here? Actual quotations and sources would be perfect, but I can follow up any leads.

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9 July 2014
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Without going thru the whole book Tom Doyle covers drug busts, raids and Paul's (and other members) use of them in 'Man on the Run: Paul in the 70's'. In the index under "marijuana use" you can find whereabouts its all mentioned.

'George Harrison : Behind That Locked Door ' (by Graeme Thomson) includes George's cocaine use during the Dark Horse tour (pages 281 - 282, 295 - 296) but also that he was doing it earlier (late 1972) and that it played a contributing role in his marriage break-up with Pattie. Quoted from page 244

"When [George] emerged from those intense periods of spiritual contemplation he would be on the look out for some more traditional forms of release: cocaine had become more common in the wider drug culture and an increasing integral part of the music history, and Harrison had started using it, sporadically but at times heavily. Voormann was saddened to learn that he[George] felt the need to hide the drug when he was around, whislt those closest to him agreed that it had changed him, making him in the words of Boyd, "a hit harder and a bit tougher. I do think a lot of it was down to cocaine." 

'Lennon In America: 1970 - 1980 (Based in part on the Lost Lennon Diaries)' by Geoffrey Giuliano notes John's cocaine use during the Double Fantasy  sessions (who knows whats true during those times) - "In order to keep focused the marathon sessions , cocaine was the fuel of choice. One evening Lennon dispatched Fred Seaman in a limousine to fetch several hundred dollar's worth of the drug from one of the studio musicians' regular dealers. Seaman returned with four grams to get them thru the all-night session. When Fred wondered how to handle the expenditure on the expense account, Lennon told him, "Write it off as candy."." (page 227). The same book has John taking heroin in 1979 (page 200).

@Joe

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9 July 2014
1.44pm
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Thank you! I've got the Doyle book on Kindle (I think I grabbed it when it was in a Daily Deal last year), but I've not read it yet. I'll check it.

I haven't seen Graeme Thompson's book but I'll pick up a copy.

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9 July 2014
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May Pang tells of John taking acid at least once in LA during the lost weekend. Can't remember if it was during one of his drunken debauches or as a substitute for one.

And I've also read of Linda doing coke on tour in the 70s; dunno if Paul indulged along with her.

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9 July 2014
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Thank you. I've got May's email address from when I interviewed her a while back. I'll ask her about it.

Any info on the Linda/coke thing would be good, especially if you can remember the source.

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9 July 2014
2.38pm
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I think it was after the drunken debauches. They took it and made love. John also smoked pot with a waiter from a restaurant in the mid to late 70s on a beach (in Long Island?) according to Fred Seaman....this story is in The Last Days of John Lennon ...he was with Yoko and the Young Frankenstein actor (whose name I forget) and his wife.

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9 July 2014
2.39pm
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If we're counting alcohol:

Old Wave was not released in the U.S. or the U.K., and during this time Starr suffered from myriad problems, foremost among them alcoholism and drug abuse, for which both he and his wife Barbara sought treatment at the Betty Ford Center in 1988. At one point earlier, Starr's drinking had gotten so bad that he went to court to block the release of material he recorded in 1987.

---Rolling Stone

He once said he wouldn’t go out because you’d have to be in the car for 40 minutes without a drink. He’d started drinking in the mid-Seventies, replacing cognac with brandy Alexanders, and then when his addiction really escalated wine, often sinking 16 bottles a day.

“I got involved with a lot of different medications and you can listen to my records go downhill as the amount of medication went up,” he once said. “I’ve got photographs of me playing all over the world but I’ve absolutely no memory of it. I played Washington with the Beach Boys – or so they tell me. But there’s only a photo to prove it.”

However, it was only when he began to worry that he couldn’t stop drinking that he sought help. Seven years after their marriage, he and Barbara booked into a drying out clinic in Tucson, Arizona. “I’m not a violent man,” he reflected recently, “But I was getting violent. And it was just painful, waking up in the morning and starting drinking again.”

He has admitted beating up Barbara so badly during one binge that he thought he had killed her. The clinic helped him to turn his life around and he claims that he hasn’t touched a drop since. Even when his first wife Maureen died of cancer in 1995 and their daughter Lee was diagnosed with a brain tumour requiring major surgery, he didn’t see drink as a way out.

---Source

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9 July 2014
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Joe said
Harrison: I've heard it said that he had a bit of a coke habit in the 70s. Again, is this confirmed anywhere? Did he ever discuss it in interviews? Did he go in for anything else? He claimed to have given up LSD after Maharishi but it's always hard to tell whether what they said publicly was actually true. I don't know if he kept on smoking marijuana till late in his life either.

I think Patti's book might be a source of info on this? It's been a while since I borrowed it.

parlance

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9 July 2014
2.57pm
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parlance said

Joe said
Harrison: I've heard it said that he had a bit of a coke habit in the 70s. Again, is this confirmed anywhere? Did he ever discuss it in interviews? Did he go in for anything else? He claimed to have given up LSD after Maharishi but it's always hard to tell whether what they said publicly was actually true. I don't know if he kept on smoking marijuana till late in his life either.

I think Patti's book might be a source of info on this? It's been a while since I borrowed it.

parlance

I'm pretty sure about that too. Haven't read it yet, but yesterday I read something with a quote of hers about George and cocaine, and just now I was looking through Googles limited PDF of her book but couldn't find it.

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9 July 2014
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I didn't know there was stuff in Pattie's book. I stopped reading it after the Beatles years, but clearly I should finish it. I found it a bit frustratingly vague on details and the chronology jumps all over the place, probably because it was ghostwritten.

Thanks all. Please keep throwing things in my direction, preferably with sources. @Mr. Kite Yes, alcohol is useful to know about too.

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9 July 2014
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Any info on the Linda/coke thing would be good, especially if you can remember the source.

It's in a footnote in Howard Sounes' McCartney bio, but I can't remember the source he quotes. I'll check the book again tonight.

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9 July 2014
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An excerpt of a Ringo interview with the Daily Telegraph - 9th August 1998 (note its a cached copy, the actual link comes up dead)

But isn't there a terrible dichotomy for the rock rehab, I started asking; I saw him blench at "dichotomy", but gabbled on before he could bat me out again: I mean that rock is at its rawest when it's wrecked? "When I really, really got wrecked, I couldn't play," he said. "For years, I just went downhill. We never made records totally derelict. You got derelict and then you made the records. Occasionally we'd have a. . . late night, and we'd make music and the next day you'd think, 'What a load of crap'."

That doesn't address the dichotomy, though it does explain why coked-up people are so boring. "You always think you're witty on alcohol and cocaine. You think you're so witty that you decide to tell the same story over and over and over and over and over again. To the same person. Heh-heh-heh. I meet people now. . .. and I think, 'God , was I like that?' And a little voice inside says, 'Yes, you were'."

If you have the book, @Joe, Keith Badman's 'Off The Record 2: The Dream Is Over' has 5 pages on the events surrounding Ringo and Barbara's drug and drink problems leading up to going into the Betty Ford clinic (pages 380 - 384) - all either quotes from people and newspaper articles at the time or from Ringo.

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9 July 2014
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Thanks. I just bought Fab on Kindle. Looks like there's quite a bit of interesting stuff in the book.

MMM - I have the Badman book at home. I'll take a look.

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9 July 2014
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Joe said
I didn't know there was stuff in Pattie's book. I stopped reading it after the Beatles years, but clearly I should finish it. I found it a bit frustratingly vague on details and the chronology jumps all over the place, probably because it was ghostwritten.

Thanks all. Please keep throwing things in my direction, preferably with sources. @Mr. Kite Yes, alcohol is useful to know about too.

Yeah it's written in a bit of a weird way, but there's enough information about George's coke use, and how it made him a different person and how he changed and all.

There is, or at least there was a few months ago, an audio version of the book on Youtube. Pattie herself reads the book out loud on that, that's how I know the information. Cynthia has done the same with her book, by the way.

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9 July 2014
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If any of you find footnotes in books that reference magazine articles, and you can't find the original article, let me know, and I will use my library connections to get a copy of the article for Joe so he can have the original sources.

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9 July 2014
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Pulled out the dusty biographies:

George: 

Pattie Boyd's 'Wonderful Tonight', page 166. As is a big downside in Pattie's book she doesn't give any years but the chapter is called 'Leaving George' so early-mid 70s. Pattie talking about the parties she hosted:

"...afterward everyone would sit down and smoke dope. From time to time there might be some cocaine, which crept into our repertoire. George developed an interesting and extreme relationship with it. He was either using it every day or not at all for months at a stretch. Then he would be spiritual and clean and would meditate for hour after hour with no chance of normality. During these periods he was totally withdrawn and I felt alone and isolated. Then, as if the pleasures were too hard to resist he would stop meditating, snort coke, have fun, flirting and partying. Although it was more companionable, there was no normality in that either.

Pattie on their enjoyment of cocaine pg 181:

"George used coke excessively and I think it changed him. *Snip snip* Cocaine was different and I think it froze George's emotions and hardened his heart.

 

Gary Tillery- 'Working Class Mystic' pg 91:

"A regular smoker of marijuana *snip*, Harrison at times succumbed to the lure of cocaine. He would go for months without touching it, purifying himself through long hours of meditation. Then he would overindulge. During periods of withdrawl he would become a recluse in his own house. During cocaine binges he would turn abruptly social, but it was an artificial high that left Pattie still feeling out of touch with him.

 

Joshua M. Greene- 'Here Comes The Sun '- pg 272, on the 'My Sweet Lord ' lawsuit:

"(George) went into a deep depression. His smoking and drinking increased, and he developed a serious case of hepatitis from the 'brandy and all the other naughty things that fly around' as he later described his habits.

 

George Harrison - I, Me, Mine pg 274 on the song 'Grey Cloudy Lies' which was on the 1975 'Extra Texture' album. Completed in April 1975 he talks about his 'Dark Horse Tour' which was critically panned and also was at the peak of George's cocaine addiction.

"Grey Cloudy Lies was in the naughty period 1973-1974 or around that time".

 

Rolling Stone magazine-19 April 1979 by Mick Brown:

RS: You met your wife, Olivia, at the end of what seems to have been a pretty low period for you personally — 1974.

G: Yeah, well after I split up from Patti [Boyd, Harrison's first wife], I went on a bit of a bender to make up for all the years I'd been married. If your listen to 'Simply Shady', on Dark Horse, it's all in there — my whole life at that time was a bit like [laughing] Mrs. Dale's Diary [a now defunct British radio soap opera].

RS: Were you going down fast?

G: Well, I wasn't ready to join Alcoholics Anonymous or anything — I don't think I was that far gone — but I could put back a bottle of brandy occasionally, plus all the other naughty things that fly around. I just went on a binge, went on the road... all that sort of thing, until it got to the point where i had no voice and almost nobody at times. Then I met Olivia and it all worked out fine.

 

I've got loads more stuff on George just need to look through some videos. Will post when I get the right quotes including one about George on marijuana that I can't find right now. :)

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9 July 2014
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Don't have time to go through the entire thread, but as far as I know:

 

John: heroin off and on throughout the early 70s, lots of coke into the mid-70s...some rumors that he dabbled in H later in the decade when Yoko did. Mainly stuck to weed and peyote, as had been mentioned.

Paul: weed, weed, and more weed. He gave it up when Beatrice was born, as mentioned. Only dabbled with coke in '67/'68

Ringo: BOOOOOOOOZE and coke. Finally went to rehab after he nearly strangled Barbara to death in a drunken rage in the early 80s

George: weed, lots of coke, lots of womanizing...all well into the 80s. Confirmed by many and documented in the excellent new bio on him from last year: http://rnrchemist.blogspot.com.....ehind.html

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9 July 2014
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Thanks everyone, particularly @AppleScruffJunior for some great leads. Can I check one thing?

George Harrison - I, Me, Mine pg 274 on the song 'Grey Cloudy Lies' which was on the 1975 'Extra Texture' album. Completed in April 1975 he talks about his 'Dark Horse Tour' which was critically panned and also was at the peak of George's cocaine addiction.

I've got the book, but on p274 there's not a lot of text. I couldn't see a passage where he explains the "naughty period" in any depth - do you know if he does anywhere in the book? Also I couldn't find anything on the Dark Horse Tour. Did I miss something?

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9 July 2014
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I don't think George mentions anything about the DH Tour, it's just a useful quote to back up George's behavior at the time, 1974 was George's "Lost Weekend". 

Will look through my George interviews-now that it's halftime :)

Edit: Can't find anything in my video interviews but still have about 2 hours of footage to skim over, will check them (and any written interviews I have left over) tomorrow.

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10 July 2014
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I don't know whether George continued to use to marijuana after the breakup but I finally found the quote I remember, might not be what you were looking for but anyhoo:

tnntxx asks: George, given the drug experimentation of the 60's, how do you feel about the legalitzation (sic) of pot

george-harrison-live: Well, I saw someone on TV last night pulling out huge loads of pot of of various fields in California. My feeling is as long as you can go into a store and buy whiskey, bourbon and all the rest of it, then, a little grass is nothing the authorities are just causing the price to be high-- 'scuse the pun

If I find anything else I'll post it :)

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