Classic Rock

How The Beatles Experimented With Drugs

todayMarch 14, 2024 1

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The story of The Beatles is closely intertwined with their experience with drugs. From their early days experimenting with Benzedrine and Preludin to their exploration of LSD and other substances in the 1960s, drugs played a significant role in their lives. This article will provide a chronological overview of the drugs they encountered and the impact it had on their music and personal lives.

Benzedrine

The Beatles’ first encounter with drugs came in June 1960 when they tried the stimulant Benzedrine. Introduced to them by the beat poet Royston Ellis, who discovered the drug inside a Vick’s inhaler, they were fascinated by its effects. George Harrison explained, “The chewed cardboard strip, known as a spitball, energized the users and had a euphoric effect.” This experience with Benzedrine marked the beginning of their drug journey.

“The first drugs I ever took, I was still at art school, with the group – we all took it together – was Benzedrine from the inside of an inhaler.” – John Lennon, 1974, Anthology

 

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Stimulants

During their time in Hamburg, Germany, The Beatles were introduced to Preludin, also known as “prellies,” German slimming pills that provided energy and suppressed appetite. Waiters in the clubs they performed at offered them these pills to help endure the long hours of performing. They also attributed Preludin to enhancing their on-stage performances and fueling the excitement of Beatlemania.

“This was the point of our lives when we found pills, uppers… We thought we were doing nothing wrong, just getting wired and going on for days.” – Ringo Starr, Anthology

LSD

The most significant turning point in The Beatles’ drug journey was their introduction to LSD, which had a profound impact on their music, personalities, and public perception. The first LSD trip occurred at the home of a cosmetic dentist named John Riley in London, likely in March or April 1965. Riley secretly laced their coffee with LSD, which was still legal and relatively unknown at the time.

“He just put it in our coffee… And they gave it to us… we thought he was trying to keep us for an orgy… we didn’t want to know.” – John Lennon, 1970, Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

Cannabis

While cannabis was not their first drug experience, it became a regular part of their lives, particularly during the mid-1960s. The Beatles, influenced by counterculture movements, embraced the use of marijuana, which became an integral part of their creative process. Cannabis played a significant role in shaping their music and lyrics during this period.

 

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LSD and Songwriting

The profound effects of LSD on The Beatles’ creativity were evident in their songwriting. The drug opened doors to new realms of imagination and allowed them to explore unique sonic landscapes. Songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” were direct representations of their LSD experiences and the psychedelic influences it had on their music.

“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. ” – Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Drugs played a significant role in The Beatles’ journey, from their early encounters with Benzedrine and Preludin to their profound experiences with LSD. These substances influenced their music, creativity, and public perception. While their drug use had its consequences, it also provided a unique backdrop for their artistic exploration and helped shape the sound of an era.

Written by: Best Classic Bands Staff

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