We All Want to Change the World: Drugs, Politics, and Spirituality; From A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles by Mark Hertsgaard
Chapter 16 from Mark Hertsgaard’s A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles; “We All Want to Change the World: Drugs, Politics, and Spirituality.”
Copyright © 1995 by Mark Hertsgaard, ISBN: 0-385-31517-1
(p191) Although their music was always the basis of the Beatles’ mass appeal, what made them larger-than- life figures – what made them matter so much to so many people – went well beyond beautiful lyric and melody. Calling them “an abstraction, like Christmas,” Derek Taylor once observed that the Beatles “represented hope, optimism, wit, lack of pretension, [the idea] that anyone can do it, provided they have the will to do it. They just seemed unstoppable.” By virtue of their own example, the Beatles gave people faith in their ability to change themselves and the world around them: you could do it, because they had done it. After starting out as four seemingly average lads from a backwater town in Northern England, they had become a worldwide sensation, but along the way they had also made themselves into more creative, empathic, and interesting individuals. Their dizzying rise to fame and fortune may have been difficult for the average person to identify with, but their search for truth and personal growth was not. As Lennon sang in 1967, “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.”
When the Beatles first burst upon the global stage in 1964, they did not appear much interested in the larger world or deeper questions of life, but they soon became very interested. Asked during a press conference at the height of Beatlemania to define success, for example, all four (192) replied in unison, “Money.” The threat of nuclear war, on the other hand, provoked only such self-absorbed banalities as Lennon’s remark that “now that we’ve made it, it would be a pity to get bombed.” Within a few years, however, the Beatles had evolved into leading figures of the 1960s counterculture, extolling a philosophy of love, peace, spiritual exploration, and social change. “For a while we thought we were having some influence,” recalled George Harrison, “and the idea was to show that we, by being rich and famous and having all these experiences, had realized that there was a greater thing to be got out of life – and what’s the point of having that on your own? You want all your friends and everybody else to do it, too.”
The crucial catalyst for the Beatles’ transformation from lovable moptops to high-minded rebels was their involvement with consciousness- raising drugs, specifically marijuana and LSD. No one liked fun more than the Beatles, but for them drugs were not simply about having a good time. Marijuana and LSD were also and more profoundly tools of knowledge, a means of gaining access to higher truths about themselves and the world. Indeed, it was above all the “desire to find out,” as Harrison later put it, that lay beneath their involvement not only with mind-expanding drugs but with Eastern philosophy as well. In their own ways, each of the Beatles had resisted received wisdom ever since their days as defiant young rock ‘n’ rollers back in Liverpool; the wonder is that their rise to superstardom did not extinguish their natural curiosity and independence of thought. They remained seekers, and their quest for enlightenment, despite moments of stumbling and naiveté, spurred countless others to stretch the limits of their own horizons.
It was marijuana that came first and triggered “the U-turn,” as McCartney put it, in the Beatles’ attitude toward life. Of course, as far as “drugs” in general were concerned, the Beatles had been heavy consumers for years, beginning with their swilling of beer and popping of pills in Hamburg. But after Bob Dylan introduced them to the green goddess of marijuana in August 1964, “we dropped drink, simple as that,” said Lennon.
The magic moment took place in the privacy of a New York hotel room during the Beatles’ first tour of the United States. It was the first (193) time the Beatles and Dylan had met one another, and it turned out to be a very amusing and enjoyable evening. Like many novice pot smokers, the Beatles simply couldn’t stop giggling. For his part, Dylan was surprised to learn that the Fab Four had never smoked pot before. After all, he’d heard them sing about it, hadn’t he? What about those lines in “I Want to Hold Your Hand” about “I get high, I get high, I get high”? Dylan’s error was understandable; the Beatles’ voicing of “I can’t hide” did sound a lot like “I get high.” In any case, once Dylan turned them on, the Beatles started getting high every chance they got. “We’ve got a lot to thank him for,” Lennon later acknowledged.
By the spring of 1965, when they were shooting the movie Help!, the Beatles were smoking marijuana on a daily basis. It offered them welcome relief from the all-engulfing pressures of Beatlemania – they were “in our own world” when smoking grass, John recalled – and it made them laugh even more than usual with one another; indeed, “Let’s have a laugh” reportedly became their code phrase for stealing away for a quick smoke. But the larger significance of their embrace of marijuana was that it further stimulated their already prodigious creativity, and it made them think, really think, for the first time in their lives. With their physical senses heightened and their mental faculties unlocked, they experienced reality in a fuller, more vivid way, which in turn yielded fresh realizations about what kinds of art were possible and what kind of life was desirable. “It was a move away from accepted values and you thought it out for yourself rather than just accept it,” said McCartney.
If marijuana left the Beatles feeling, in Derek Taylor’s phrase, “taller and broader of mind,” psychedelic drugs took that taller, broader mind to places it would never forget. “It was like opening the door, really, and before you didn’t even know there was a door there. It just opened up this whole other consciousness,” George Harrison explained, adding, “I had such an overwhelming feeling of well-being, that there was a God, and I could see him in every blade of grass. It was like gaining hundreds of years of experience within twelve hours. It changed me, and there was no way back to what I was before.”
Harrison cited 1966 as the year LSD came into the Beatles’ lives, but in fact all four Beatles except Paul had taken acid at least once by (194) the time they started recording Rubber Soul in October 1965. John and George had the first experience, though not of their own volition. They and their wives were having dinner one night with their dentist when the dentist secretly drugged the coffee. Not knowing what to expect from LSD, the four guests naturally felt frightened when its effects began to kick in. They fled to a London discotheque, screaming, laughing, hallucinating, and eventually drove back to George’s house, which looked to Lennon like a giant submarine. “It was just terrifying, but it was fantastic,” John said afterward.
Sometime later (the date of the dentist encounter has never been fixed), John and George took LSD again, but under far more hospitable circumstances, and this time joined by Ringo. It was August 1965 and the Beatles were renting a house in the posh Los Angeles neighborhood of Benedict Canyon during a few days off from their second American tour. The acid was supplied by actor Peter Fonda, and although Fonda’s comments about death (recounted in “She Said, She Said“) unsettled Lennon, John later recalled the scene in idyllic terms: “The sun was shining and the girls were dancing and the whole thing was beautiful and Sixties.” Paul, however, stayed straight that day, despite heavy pressure from his bandmates to join in.
Indeed, another twenty months would pass before the cautious McCartney investigated LSD firsthand, on March 21, 1967. By this time the Beatles had completed their first acid-soaked album, Revolver, and had nearly finished Sgt Pepper. Although they frequently smoked marijuana in the studio, the Beatles never dropped acid while working, except on this one occasion, when John took some by mistake. After announcing that he felt ill, John was taken up to the open, railingless roof of Abbey Road Studios by George Martin to get some air. When Paul and George Harrison, who knew why John felt odd, learned where he was, they dashed up to retrieve him and Paul drove him home. In the car, Paul asked if John had any more LSD, and soon the two partners were tripping together.
Years later, Paul said he took acid that night mainly to keep John company, but in the immediate aftermath of the event he spoke far more exuberantly about what he had experienced. He and John had taken “this fantastic thing,” he told Derek Taylor, after which they sat (195) staring “into each other’s eyes . . . and then saying, ‘I know, man,’ and then laughing.” Publicly, Paul declared that LSD had “opened my eyes. It made me a better, more honest, more tolerant member of society.” Pete Shotton, who, like McCartney, had long resisted Lennon’s urgings of LSD, nevertheless offered a similar view of the drug’s effect on John. LSD “brought enthusiasm back into his life,” wrote Shotton. “. . . It also served to smooth away some of the rough edges of his personality, virtually curing him of his arrogance and paranoia.” It was because of reactions like these that Derek Taylor later said, “We felt liberated by the experience of taking LSD, and that’s why it’s hard to see it lumped together with addictive drugs and other things. I think if you were doing it all the time it would be a madhouse. You couldn’t raise children or hold a job. . . . [But for exposing one to] other verities, other structures than the usual, I think it was very helpful.”
For four individuals as creatively inclined as the Beatles, it was only natural that the personal growth sparked by marijuana and LSD would affect their art. “It started to find its way into everything we did, really,” Paul said of the Beatles’ experiences with drugs. “It colored our perceptions. I think we started to realize there wasn’t as many frontiers we’d thought there were. And we realized we could break barriers. The Beatles’ first musical reference to marijuana came a mere six weeks after their hotel room encounter with Dylan, when John and Paul inserted the line “turns me on” into the song “She’s A Woman,” recorded on October 8, 1964. It was another year before the next hints – John’s imitation of a pot smoker on the background vocals of “Girl” on Rubber Soul and his song about a “Day Tripper.” But to take only the direct mentions of drugs in the Beatles’ music misses the point, and not simply because outsiders often surmised drug allusions when the Beatles didn’t intend them. The Beatles had too light an artistic touch to reduce their songs to any one gimmick, be it a drug, a new musical instrument, or a clever studio trick; the influence of LSD and marijuana on their art was more subtle than that.
The drugs “didn’t write the music,” Lennon once said. I write the music in the circumstances in which I’m in, whether it’s on acid or in the water.” What marijuana and LSD did was to change the sensibility that the Beatles brought to their music. “We found out very early (196) that if you play it stoned or derelict in any way it was really shitty music, so we would have the experiences and then bring that into the music later,” explained Ringo. The first stirrings of an alternate awareness were evident on the Help! Album, where songs like the title track and John’s “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” foreshadowed the gr eater depth and meaning that would characterize the Beatles’ work in years to come. On Rubber Soul, probably the single most marijuana- flavored album, the songs became more consistently sophisticated and the Beatles began to articulate the cheerful, humanistic sensibility that became a central element of the 1960s zeitgeist. “The Word” in particular on Rubber Soul was later identified as a product of the “marijuana period” by John, who said it was “about – gettin’ smart . . . the love and peace thing.” Revolver, of course, was the first psychedelically inclined album, as much in its sounds as its subject matter. And then came Sgt Pepper; the biggest barrier-breaker of them all.
Despite the ever more obvious indications that the Beatles, like generations of artists before them, were lubricating their natural creativity with mind-altering substances, the world at large remained blissfully ignorant of their transformation until Sgt Pepper. Indeed, George Martin himself, though he knew the Beatles smoked pot, “had no idea they were also into LSD.” The first whiff of controversy came on May 19, 1967, thirteen days before Pepper was released, when the BBC banned its classic song, “A Day in the Life,” from the public airwaves on the grounds that it might promote drug-taking. But the fact that the Beatles themselves took drugs remained largely unknown for another month, until Paul disclosed, in reply to a reporter’s question, that yes, he had taken LSD and was not ashamed of it. The uproar was immediate, and it only intensified when John, George, and Brian Epstein, in reply to further press inquiries, said that they, too, had taken acid to positive effect. (Indeed, John and at least one other Beatle were tripping – or “flying,” as John put it – during the photo session for the Sgt Pepper album cover.)
It was difficult to make a convincing argument that drugs had ruined the Beatles’ lives, for they had just issued an album of breathtaking genius, widely recognized as the most impressive achievement in popular (197) music for many years. Indeed, the period of the Beatles’ heaviest drug use coincided with the three albums that may well be their finest: Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt Pepper. Nevertheless, the sense of shock and betrayal felt by the Establishment that had previously celebrated the Beatles was palpable, and the ensuing counterattack extended from news media vilification to police harassment. In separate incidents, both John and George were arrested months later for possessing illegal drugs. Each protested that the drugs supposedly found in his house did not belong to him, and there is reason to believe their claims; the arresting officer, London police sergeant Norman Pilcher, was later sentenced to six years in prison for planting evidence on suspects in other cases. Amidst all the criticism, the Beatles nevertheless stood by their beliefs. When leading figures from the British arts and entertainment world placed a full-page advertisement in the Times of London on July 24, 1967, calling the laws against marijuana “immoral in principle and unworkable in practice,” the Beatles both signed the petition and guaranteed its costs.
Yet, exactly one month later, the Beatles shocked the world anew by announcing that they were now giving up drugs. Their image remained under a cloud, however, for their announcement came in the context of a newfound enthusiasm for the spiritual teachings of an Indian guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; in the eyes of many, the Beatles had merely replaced one set of weird beliefs for another. The following February, the Beatles made a much publicized journey to the Maharishi’s meditation center in India and came away doubting that he was as holy as they first thought. But while they distanced themselves from the messenger, they did not discard the message. In their view, mind-expanding drugs and spiritual practice were simply different paths to the same goal of higher consciousness; neither was an answer in itself. Drugs and meditation could “open a few doors,” said McCartney, but it was up to you to walk through them: “You get the answers yourself.” Distinguishing themselves from the passive, socially unengaged stance of some sixties hippies, Lennon and Harrison, previously the two heaviest drug-users in the Beatles, argued that “worshiping” a drug was wrong, just as withdrawing from society was selfish and irresponsible. “It’s not drop out, it’s drop in and change it,” (198) said John. George added, “It’s drop out of the old established way ofth ought . . . [and] drop in with this changed concept of life and try to influence . . . people.”
“In a way we’d turned out to be a “Trojan Horse,” John later said of the Beatles. “The Fab Four moved right to the top and then sang about drugs and sex and then I got more and more into the heavy stuff and that’s when they started dropping us.” The first “heavy stuff” to cause trouble had been John’s remark that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” First mentioned in a long profile article in the London Evening Standard on March 4, 1966, the remark occasioned no particular comment until it was quoted out of context in an American teen magazine some five months later. On factual grounds, Lennon’s observation was quite possibly true, but the outrage it provoked among Christian fundamentalists led to boycotts and public burnings of Beatles records in some parts of the American southern Bible Belt, as well as death threats against the Beatles themselves. At a press conference in Chicago on August 11, on the eve of the Beatles’ third American tour, as hostile reporters insisted that he apologize, John tried to explain that he had been misinterpreted. He pointed out that he had not said that the Beatles were “greater or better” than Jesus, only more popular. “I believe that what people call a God is something in all of us,” he said. “I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” The reporters deafly continued to demand an apology. Finally Lennon said, “If that will make you happy, then okay, I’m sorry.” Yet minutes later, Lennon delved into more “heavy stuff” by coming out against the Vietnam War, the hot-button issue of the 1960s.
Close friends Derek Taylor and Pete Shotton later cited 1966 as the year that the Beatles, and John most of all, took a sudden new interest in political issues – another consequence, it seems, of the growth in awareness stimulated by their use of marijuana and LSD – and this new awareness was followed by a desire to change their behavior accordingly. According to John, the Beatles had opposed the Vietnam War privately for some time, but manager Epstein had dissuaded them from speaking out on such a controversial issue. However, John and George in particular had grown impatient with silence – “The continual awareness of what (199) was going on made me feel ashamed I wasn’t saying anything,” said John – and they duly warned Epstein prior to the 1966 tour that, in John’s words, “When they ask next time, we’re going to say that we don’t like that war and we think they should get right out.” This the group did, and not just once. Moreover, they went beyond condemnation of the war to a critique of the larger social and economic structures that lay behind it. In April 1968, when Lennon blasted the Vietnam War as “another piece of the insane scene,” his interviewer asked what he thought should be done about “the Establishment.” “Change it,” John replied, “and not replace it with another set of Harris tweed suits. Change it completely.” He was honest enough to add, “But how do you do that, we don’t know.”
Of course, the most powerful weapon at the Beatles’ disposal was their music. George later explained, “We felt obviously that Vietnam was wrong – I think any war is wrong, for that matter – and in some of our lyrics we expressed those feelings and tried to be the counterculture, to try and wake up as many people as we could to the fact that you don’t have to fight. You can call a halt to war and you can have a laugh and dress up silly, and that’s what that period was all about. . . . It was all part of our retaliation against the evil that was taking place and still is taking place.” With the exception of Lennon’s song “Revolution,” the Beatles were never as outspokenly topical as, say, Dylan in his early years.
Nevertheless, their music was by no means without political implications and effect. Precisely because the messages of their songs were stated less explicitly, the Beatles were able to reach people who would not have responded to more overt forms of address. They did not sing about racism, war, and injustice directly, but there was no doubt how they felt about such issues; the sensibility that permeated their music rejected such barbarisms. The outstanding example was Sgt Pepper, an album praised by the American radical activist Abbie Hoffman as ”Beethoven coming to the supermarket! . . . It summed up so much of what we were saying politically, culturally, artistically, expressing our inner feelings and our view of the world in a way that was so revolutionary.”
“They had, and conveyed, a realization that the world and human consciousness had to change,” poet Allen Ginsberg said of the Beatles. But that was only part of their significance. The essence of the Beatles’ (200) message was not simply that the world had to change, but, more importantly, that it could change. There is nothing particularly original about thinking that things should be different; as John pointed out in “Revolution,” “We all want to change the world.” The truly radical first step is believing it can actually happen. In their public statements and their music, usually subtly and implicitly, the Beatles proclaimed that it was indeed possible to break the old patterns and forge a kinder, more peaceful reality, that it was important to care not just about the war in Vietnam but about other manifestations of evil, and that it was important to try to do something. It was up to you – which is to say, all of us – to make changes, and you could do it. That message resonated deeply and powerfully in the mass psyche, for it put people in closer touch with their higher selves and made them feel part of a larger project of human renewal. The Beatles, in short, brought out the best in people, which is a large part of why so many people cared, and still care, so passionately about them.
The Beatles’ evolution into cultural radicals – their use of drugs, their adoption of long hair and colorful clothing, their dissent from the official policies of the day, their promotion of an alternative worldview – made them heroes to some and outlaws to others, but above all it made them socially relevant in a way few artists ever manage to be. The individual Beatles would later deny having been the architects of a vast sea change in social attitudes that occurred during the 1960s, claiming they were simply swept along by a larger momentum. “Maybe the Beatles were in the crow’s nest shouting ‘Land Ho!’ or something like that, but we were all in the same damn boat,” exclaimed Lennon. But part of their genius as artists was to be in touch with the spirit of their age, to give voice to the underlying, inchoate human yearnings of their time and place.
The Beatles, Yoko Ono once said, “were like mediums. They weren’t conscious of all they were saying but it was coming through them.” Or, as George Martin put it, “The great thing about the Beatles is that they were of their time. Their timing was right. They didn’t choose it, someone else chose it for them, but their timing was right and they left their mark in history because of that. I think they expressed the mood of the people and their own generation.”
Page 191: Derek Taylor’s “an abstraction like Christmas” quote comes from a video interview he gave years after the Beatles disbanded, contained on a reel of privately collected footage that was viewed by the author. The Beatles’ press conference remarks about success and nuclear war are reported on page 58 of Miles’s Beatles: In Their Own Words.
Page 192: George Harrison’s “For a while we thought we were having some influence” quote is found on page 136 of Derek Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. His the “desire to find out” quote is from an interview in the October 22, 1987, issue of Rolling Stone.
Page 192: McCartney’s “U-turn” remark is found on page 50 of his 1989-90 World Tour program, where he also describes how pot led the Beatles to abandon drink and pills. Lennon’s comment about drink is found on page 82 of Lennon Remembers by Jann Wenner. Dylan’s confusion about the actual lyrics of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is noted by McCartney in his World Your Program. His recollection is reinforced by Ray Coleman’s Lennon: The Definitive Biography, page 343, where Coleman recalls a 1964 interview he did with Dylan in which Dylan expressed astonishment that “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was not a drug song and the Beatles not marijuana smokers. The story of the meeting during which Dylan got the Beatles high for the first time is told most expansively in Brown and Gaines The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles, pages 143-44, though it must be noted that neither of the authors claims to have been present that night, nor do they cite specific sources for the detailed descriptions and specific dialogue they present in the book. However, central elements of their story are supported by Lennon’s remarks on page 52 of Rolling Stone’s book The Ballad of John and Yoko, which also contains his “We’ve got a lot to thank him for” quote.
Page 193: The daily smoking habits of the Beatles during Help!, and the reshooting this sometimes made necessary, are recounted by Lennon on page 149 of the Playboy Interviews, which also contains his “in our own world” quote. The “Let’s have a laugh” code phrase is qualified in the text with the word “reportedly” because it is not based on a direct statement by one of the Beatles but on the account in The Love You Make. McCartney’s “It was a move away from accepted values” quote is from page 50 of the World Tour Program and is supported from a quote from George Harrison, found in the October 22, 1987, issue of Rolling Stone, saying that before acid and marijuana, the Beatles were always rushing around too much to have time to think about what was happening to them. Derek Taylor’s “taller and broader of mind” quote is found on page 88 of his book It was Twenty Years Ago Today. Harrison’s “It was like opening the door” quote is from the November 5, 1987, issue of Rolling Stone, which also includes his citation of 1966 as the year of LSD for the Beatles.
Page 194: Lennon has offered the fullest description of the night with the LSD-dispensing dentist, found on pages 73-75 of Lennon Remembers, and the fact that the acid was given to them without their knowledge is supported by Harrison on page 120 of Miles’s The Beatles: In Their Own Words. The description of the second LSD trip, in Los Angeles, is based on the Lennon recollection just cited, as well as Peter Fonda’s comments on pages 217-18 of The Ballad of John and Yoko and Lennon’s 1980 comments in the Playboy Interviews. The fact that McCartney declined to take LSD that day is supported both by the Lennon recollections and by an interview of McCartney in the September 11, 1986, Rolling Stone. That McCartney took his first acid trip with Lennon after took it by mistake one night in the studio is based on the McCartney interview just cited. The actual date and the other details reported are found in a variety of sources, including that interview, Lennon’s comments on page 76 of Lennon Remembers, George Martin’s memories, as reported on pages 206-07 of his book All You Need is Ears, Hunter Davies’s eyewitness account on pages 270-71 of his The Beatles, and page 104 of Mark Lewisohn’s Recording Sessions.
Page 194: McCartney’s “this fantastic thing” quote is found on page 21 of Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. His “opened my eyes” quote is reported on page 136 of Shotton’s book John Lennon In My Life, page 118 of which contains Shotton’s “brought enthusiasm back” quote. Extremist that he was, Lennon later went too far with LSD, taking it so often that its benefits were lost on him and the battering of his ego became intolerable. He therefore stopped taking acid sometime in the summer of 1967, only to return to it one weekend the following spring under the guidance of Derek Taylor, who assured Lennon of the many reasons he had to believe in himself. The story is told on pages 77-78 of Lennon Remembers and on pages 322-23 of Coleman’s Lennon. Lennon, as quoted on pages 116-19 of Beatles: In Their Own Words, later credited Taylor for helping him shed the depression that had been haunting him and recover the confidence he had lost in himself, a process reinforced, he said, by the arrival of Yoko Ono in his life. The spring 1968 date is based on deduction on Lennon’s reference to Ono, with whom he became lovers sometime in May 1968 (probably on May 19, reports Lewisohn on page 283 of his The Complete Beatles Chronicle), and on Taylor’s own recollections, as found on pages 62-63 of his book As Time Goes By. Taylor’s “We felt liberated” quote is found on the video documentary The Compleat Beatles.
Page 195: McCartney’s “It started to find its way” quote is from page 88 of Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. That “She’s A Woman” contained the Beatles’ first direct musical reference to drugs is based on Lennon’s comment on page 147 of the Lennon Interviews and the lack of any such supporting information regarding any previous Beatles song. Subsequent references to drugs are, in this book, cited in the order of their appearance. Lennon’s “didn’t write the music” quote is found on page 78 of Lennon Remembers. Page 195: Ringo’s “we found out very early” quote is from page 110 of George Martin’s book The Summer of Love. Lennon’s “gettin’ smart . . . the love-and-peace-thing” quote is found on page 173 of the Playboy Interviews. George Martin’s “had no idea they were also into LSD” quote is found on page 207 of his book (with Jeremy Hornsby) All You Need Is Ears.
Page 196: The BBC banning order and McCartney’s LSD admission are noted on page 255-56 of Lewisohn’s Chronicle. McCartney’s lack of shame is supported by his quote that acid “opened my eyes,” as reported on page 136 of Shotton’s book John Lennon In My Life. Before long, however, in the face of the onslaught of media and political criticism, McCartney spoke differently. He never disavowed LSD, but he blamed the media for making too much of his statement. HYPERLINK “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUbGmVacCcc”In a testy exchange with an English television reporter, recounted on page 116 of Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, McCartney denied trying to spread the word about LSD, saying it was the media itself that was doing so. Asked if he didn’t have a responsibility as a public figure for what he said, Paul replied, “I mean that you are spreading this now at this moment. This is going into all the homes in Britain, and I’d rather it didn’t. You’re asking me the question, you want me to be honest, I’ll be honest. But it’s you who have got the responsibility not to spread this now.” (Taylor’s account is also the source regarding the subsequent admissions by John, George, and Brian Epstein). That two of the Beatles were “flying” during the Sgt Pepper photo session was revealed by John during an interview contained in unreleased video footage from the early 1970’s which was viewed by the author. With a smirk at the camera, John divulged that two of the Beatles were flying and two weren’t during the session. Although the second flying Beatle might have been Paul or Ringo, it seems most likely that it was George, since George was the one who did the most LSD during this period and Paul in particular would have been unlikely to take LSD during such an important photo session. The stories of John’s and George’s drug arrests are told on pages 288-91 and 308-10 of Peter Brown’s The Love You Make, and, in John’s case, pages 458-59 of Coleman’s Lennon, and in George’s, pages 62-65 of Geoffrey Giuliano’s Dark Horse. The latter source provides the information about Sergeant Pilcher.
Page 197: The ad in the Times of London is described on pages 78-79 of ibid., as well as page 117 of It Was Twenty Years Ago Today. The Beatles’ renunciation of drugs is described in their own words on pages 32 and 36 of Beatles: In Their Own Words and cited as well on page 243 of The Love You Make, which also described their relationship with the Maharishi on pages 239-44, and on page 703 of Coleman’s Lennon. McCartney’s “open a few doors” quote, and the remarks by John and George in the same paragraph, are found on page 115 and page 37, respectively, of Beatles: In Their Own Words.
Page 198: Lennon’s “Trojan Horse” quote is on page 123 of ibid. The story of Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” remark is based on pages 404-09 of Coleman’s Lennon, pages 212-13 of Lewisohn’s Chronicle, pages 191-94 of Brown’s The Love You Make, and pages 28 and 32 of Beatles: In Their Own Words. Coleman and Brown also report on John’s subsequent Vietnam remarks.
Page 198: The observations about the Beatles becoming newly interested in social and political issues in 1966 are found on page 164 of Taylor’s It Was Twenty Years Ago Today and page 117 of Shotton’s John Lennon In My Life. Lennon’s explanation of the Beatles speaking out on Vietnam is found on page 123 of Beatles: In Their Own Words. Among many other statements by the Beatles against the war were those made on August 23, 1966, by all four, as documented on page 17 of Jon Wiener’s Come Together; in January 1967 by Paul, as noted on page 164 of Taylor’s book; and in April 1968 by John, as noted on pages 73-74 of Wiener’s book, the latter of which contains his statement about the Establishment.
Page 199: Harrison’s “We felt obviously that Vietnam was wrong” quote is found on page 150 of Taylor’s book, page 165 of which reports Abbie Hoffman’s “Beethoven coming to the supermarket!” quote, and page 24 of which notes Ginsberg’s “They had, and conveyed” quote.
Page 200: Lennon’s “Maybe the Beatles were in the crow’s nest” quote is from page 78 of the Playboy Interviews, as is Ono’s “mediums” quote. Supporting Lennon’s remark are statements Harrison made in his interview in the November 5, 1987, Rolling Stone. Martin’s “The great thing about the Beatles” quote is from the video documentary The Compleat Beatles.