Paul McCartney says he’s taking LSD

June 16, 1967


In an article published in LIFE Magazine, on June 16, 1967, Paul McCartney is quoted saying:

After I took [LSD], it opened my eyes. We only use one-tenth of our brain. Just think what all 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, or poverty or famine.

Paul McCartney – Interview with LIFE Magazine, June 16, 1967

The UK press immediately seized upon it, and three days later Paul gave a statement to Independent Television News (ITN).

The Beatles’ involvement with drugs has been massively exaggerated over the years, but they certainly experimented more than most people. It was Paul who first admitted the truth to the Press in a very unscheduled interview which I tried hard to interrupt.

I had been asked round to see Paul at Cavendish Avenue, but when I arrived the security gates were firmly shut and I couldn’t raise an answer on the security intercom. But I knew Paul was in because I could hear his voice. I was forced to resort to climbing over the wall. Not very dignified for a smart-suited executive, I know. But, hey, this is the crazy music business. I scrambled down inside the large and elegant gardens and, to my horror, I heard Paul cheerfully confessing to using marijuana because he found it so relaxing. My heart sank into my shiny shoes when I realised the guy he was talking to was a reporter. With as much confidence and authority as I could muster, which was pretty well zero, I tried to interrupt this impromptu press conference which I was convinced was instantly going to burst the bubble of popularity the Beatles had inflated.

‘Er, Paul,’ I bumbled, ‘could I have a word?’

‘It’s OK, Al. It’s cool,’ said Paul without removing the easy grin from his face.

‘But, I’m not sure that Brian would …’

‘It’s OK, Al. Relax. It’s time the truth came out.’

I was horrified, because at this time there had been accusations and colourful stories and all the rest of it but none of the Beatles had stood up and admitted that they used illegal drugs. Paul clearly thought the time for this hypocrisy was over and the reporter’s notebook was by now twitching nervously in case this scoop was going to be snatched away from him. Paul introduced me to the reporter and told me to relax and carried on telling the world how much the Beatles enjoyed smoking cannabis. It did create a storm but the Beatles weathered it easily and I came to realise the extent of Paul’s talent for public relations. He hadn’t talked to Brian or the other three before going public. And for all the notice he took of my nervous warnings, I might as well have stayed on the other side of the wall.

Alistair Taylor – From “With the Beatles: A Stunning Insight by The Man who was with the Band Every Step of the Way“, 2011

I was the last in the group to take LSD. John and George had urged me to do it so that I could be on the same level as them. I was very reluctant because I’m actually quite strait-laced, and I’d heard that if you took LSD you would never be the same again. I wasn’t sure I wanted that. I wasn’t sure that was such a terrific idea. So I was very resistant. In the end I did give in and take LSD one night with John.

I was pretty lucky on the LSD front, in that it didn’t screw things up too badly. There was a scary element to it, of course. The really scary element was that when you wanted it to stop, it wouldn’t. You’d say, “Okay, that’s enough, party’s over,” and it would say, “No it isn’t.” So you would have to go to bed seeing things.

Around that time, when I closed my eyes, instead of there being blackness there was a little blue hole. It was as if something needed patching. I always had the feeling that if I could go up to it and look through, there would be an answer. The most important influence here was not even the metaphysical idea of a hole, but this absolutely physical phenomenon — something that first appeared after I took acid. I still see it occasionally, and I know exactly what it is. I know exactly what size it is.

Paul McCartney – From “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present“, 2021


A couple of weeks ago widespread headlines and front-page stories in Britain’s Sunday newspapers drew attention to part of an interview given by Paul to America’s Life magazine. In the course of this interview Paul had answered honestly a straight question directed to him on the subject of taking the drug LSD. When the newspaper men tackled him in an attempt to draw further comment on the topic Paul was very careful to make it plain that his experience of the drug had been a very personal thing and he was anxious to avoid all possibility of other people experimenting.

On the evening of Monday, June 19, 36 hours after the press had reported and examined the original Life magazine statement, Independent Television News sent an interviewer to Paul’s home in St. John’s Wood where they filmed a follow-up conversation in which the Beatle further clarified his feelings. The film was screened throughout the UK via Independent Television at nine o’clock the same evening.

In view of the importance of this further statement THE BEATLES MONTHLY BOOK prints below a complete verbatim transcript of the television interview.

REPORTER: Paul, how often have you taken LSD?

PAUL: Er, four times.

REPORTER: And where did you get it from?

PAUL: Well, you know, I mean, if I was to say where I got it from, you know, it’s illegal and everything, it’s silly to say that so I’d rather not say it.

REPORTER: Don’t you believe that this was a matter which you should have kept private?

PAUL: Well, the thing is, you know, that I was asked a question by a newspaper and the decision was whether to tell a lie or to tell the truth, you know. I decided to tell him the truth but I really didn’t want to say anything because if I’d had my way I wouldn’t have told anyone because 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 for spreading it. Not mine.

REPORTER: But you’re a public figure and you said it in the first place. You must have known that it would make the newspapers.

PAUL: Yes, but to say it, you know, is only to tell the truth. I’m telling the truth. I don’t know what everyone is so angry about.

REPORTER: Well, do you think you have encouraged your fans to take drugs?


REPORTER: But as a public figure, surely you’ve got a responsibility to not say any…

PAUL: No, it’s you’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!

A few hours before the ITN newscast Paul repeated his desire to emphasise the point that the last thing he wanted was to encourage or even condone the taking of LSD amongst Beatles’ fans or anyone else. He said he did not under any circumstances wish to advocate the use of the drug for anyone else and he hoped people would understand this.

From The Beatles Monthly Book, July 1967
From The Beatles Monthly Book, July 1967


PAUL McCARTNEY’S public, and unrepentant, announcement that he has taken LSD, has produced the expected punditising in the press, on radio and TV.

In question are the wisdom of Paul’s revelations and whether they could influence others to follow his example. There has also been much theorising on the extent to which LSD has been accepted by Britain’s hip generation.

The MM Opinion Poll interviewed 100 youngsters throughout Britain on the subject. We put four questions to them: 1. Was Paul right to admit publicly that he had taken LSD? 2. Could Paul’s admission influence you to try LSD? 3. Should the use of LSD be legal or illegal? 4. Do you know anybody who takes, or has taken, LSD?

In answer to Question 1, 57 said Paul was wrong to admit he had taken LSD, 37 thought he was right, three were uncertain and three didn’t believe his admission and felt it was all a publicity stunt.

Some of those who felt Paul was wrong were pretty forthright. “Whatever possessed him to do it baffles me,” said 19-year-old Tom Key, of Ambergate, near Helper, Derbyshire. “The fact that he went rambling on about God convinces me that LSD pickles the brain.” “I’m sure he didn’t intend to colour kids’ minds with his story of divine solace — but it could have that effect,” said Sue Ball (19), of Derby. “If just one little moddie is tempted to touch LSD, or any drug, because of what McCartney said, then it was wrong. If he wanted to get close to God why didn’t he move in with John Lennon?

Said Jim Gilbeany (19), of Edinburgh: “Paul’s old enough to know what he’s doing — and that’s what makes his confession frightening. I’m convinced he now regrets what he said. I know I’m sorry for him.” Patrick Tennent (19), of Clifton, Bristol, felt it might be “a bit of exhibitionism” while Barbara Slater (20), of Handsworth, Birmingham, said it had “ruined Paul’s, up until now, good image. It could be detrimental to his future career.

Some, like Marion Shergold (13), from Southsea, could see no reason for Paul to lie when asked about LSD. Margaret Anderson (18), of Newcastle, thought his admission “showed moral courage.

The answers to Question 2 should confound the prophets of doom — 96 out of our 100 youngsters were certain they couldn’t be influenced to try LSD themselves.

Two were not quite certain about it and two (both from Liverpool) said they might try it if offered as a result of Paul’s admission. Some of the 96 emulated their elders — those who feel others might be perverted by TV or films while denying that they could be themselves — and felt Paul might influence impressionable fans.

Alan Storey (18), of Middleton, Manchester, felt Paul could only influence “nut cases,” but Jean Wood (19), of Mottram, Cheshire, believes “teenagers who follow the Beatles’ ideas might be influenced.”

Thomas Murphy (19), of Glasgow, adopted a tough line: “I don’t believe that fans try to imitate pop stars who take drugs. Paul McCartney has ruined himself in the eyes of millions of people by showing that he is really a weak character who can’t live with reality without looking for an artificial way to escape.”

In reply to Question Three, there was overwhelming belief that LSD should be illegal — 76 out of the 100, with 18 disagreeing and six uncertain.

The suspicions of some newspaper columnists that there is an aura of glamour about drugs for teenagers were certainly allayed.

Phrases like “an evil which should be banned” and “all drugs are a canker” were frequently used. Kathy Reid (19), of Edinburgh, felt that drugs should be punished. Some, like Simon Leeman (20), of Bristol, made the point that little is known as yet, about any side effects from LSD.

Most of those who did not think the drug should be illegal explained that this was not because they were particularly in favour of LSD.

Said Rita Wickett (20), of Handsworth, Birmingham: “It is of value in medical research and even if it was illegal it wouldn’t stop addicts taking it—they’d obtain some somehow.”

You cannot legislate for the idiots of the world,” was the view of Jack Potter (16), of Leigh Park, Hampshire. “More people would want to try it just because it was banned,” was the somewhat cynical reaction of Barry Waddilove (19), of Hyde, Cheshire.

Despite the Sunday papers, LSD users are hardly lurking in every coffee bar, according to the answers we got to Question Four which asked if our subjects knew anyone who used the drug. Of our 100 youngsters, 89 did not know of anybody. Four were uncertain and seven said they did know users.

The uncertains, incidentally, were those who knew people who claimed that they had used LSD but did not believe them. “I knew somebody who said he had taken it and even described ‘trips’,” reported Raymond Vaughan (16), of Splott, Cardiff. “But he was a bit of a nut anyway so he could have been making it up.

Roger Smith (18), of Derby, voiced a popular view with: “I doubt if more than a few people in this country use it. It’s probably been grossly over-exposed in the papers.” Said John Glancy (15), of Edinburgh: “I’ve never heard of anyone in Scotland who takes it.

“Take LSD?” retorted Sheila Kiddle (21), of Portsmouth. “Of course not. My friends are all sane.

To sum up: the vast majority of Britain’s teenagers believe that LSD is evil and that Paul McCartney was wrong to admit he had taken it.

And they have no intention of trying it for themselves. They’ve got too much bloody sense.

From Melody Maker – July 1, 1967
From Melody Maker – July 1, 1967


In an outspoken attack on drug taking by the young, Miss Alice Bacon, Minister of State at the Home Office, told the Commons today she had been “horrified” to read the views of well-known people on drugs, including Paul McCartney of the Beatles.

Miss Bacon said she was not normally a reader of The Queen magazine, but a copy was passed to her yesterday at the hairdresser’s to while away the time when she was under a drier.

There was a long article in it called The Love Generation, and statements from various people, pop singers and managers of pop groups.

Miss Bacon said Paul McCartney was reported to have said: “God is in everything. God is in the space between us. God is in the table in front of you. It just happens I realise all this through weed. It could have been through anything else.

Miss Bacon added that the Beatles’ manager had also been in favour of hallucinatory drugs.

The only person with any sense seems to be the little pop singer Lulu.” She had said that people were talking about love, love, love, and thought you had to have drugs to be part of this.

Lulu had said: “Love is far older than pop and goes right back to Jesus. I am a believer.

Miss Bacon said that the young people took seriously what was said by these pop stars. She went on: “What sort of society are we to create if everyone wants to escape from reality into a dream world of this kind? There are those who see in society’s attitude to drug-taking an opportunity for questioning traditional values and social judgments of all kinds.

“For some young people drug taking is a way of life — the way of life — to which they beckon the impressionable, the curious, frustrated and demoralised.

“Insidiously or openly, unwittingly or wittingly, the young are being taught the paraphernalia of psychedelic

From Evening Standard – July 28, 1967
From Sunday Mirror – June 25, 1967
From Daily Mirror – June 19, 1967
From Daily Mirror – June 20, 1967
From Daily Mirror – June 18, 1967
From Daily Mirror – June 19, 1967
From Daily Mirror – July 29, 1967

Last updated on March 2, 2024

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