The Beatles FAQ

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Sunday, 7 May 2017

When did George Harrison stop taking LSD? Why?

The Beatles famously brought LSD to public attention. Less well known is that George Harrison became rapidly disillusioned about the effects of the drug on young people exposed to it.
On 7 August 1967, George Harrison flew with his then wife Patti, Neil Aspinall and Derek Taylor to San Francisco. 

They were there to visit George's sister, Jenny but also wanted to visit increasingly famous 'Hippy Heaven' area of Haight Ashbury - supposedly a prototype community arising from the alternative culture. The reality proved to be depressingly sordid as Derek Taylor explained:
We were expecting Haight-Ashbury to be special, a creative and artistic place, filled with Beautiful People, but it was horrible - full of ghastly drop-outs, bums and spotty youths, all out of their brains. Everybody looked stoned - even mothers and babies - and they were so close behind us they were treading on the backs of our heels. It got to the point where we couldn't stop for fear of being trampled. Then somebody said, 'Let's go to Hippie Hill,' and we crossed the grass, our retinue facing us, as if we were on stage. They looked as us expectantly - as if George was some kind of Messiah.
Amongst the crowd jostling The Beatles entourage were future members of the Manson family - Manson would later cite Beatles' lyrics to persuade his followers to carry out grotesque murders.

George Harrison could not have anticipated this deranged response to his music. But he did instinctively sense that LSD use, which The Beatles had helped promote, was leading to very dark outcomes. 


 ….It certainly showed me what was really happening in the drug cult. It wasn’t what I thought with all these groovy people having spiritual awakenings and being artistic. It was like any addiction. So at that point, I stopped taking it actually.. the dreadful lysergic. That’s where I really went for the meditation.
The Beatles formally (if somewhat insincerely in a couple of cases) renounced drug when they signed on with the Maharishi later in that tumultuous August. But neither George nor Paul continued to take LSD from that point on.

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