The Beatles First Smoke Marijuana 50 Years Ago

The Beatles met up with Bob Dylan and mutual journalist friend Al Aronowitz at The Delmonico Hotel after playing a show at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in New York on August 28th, 1964. Dylan and Aronowitz brought marijuana and an unbeknownst to Dylan, introduced the Fab Four to Mary Jane for the first time. Dylan had incorrectly thought that lyrics from Beatles tunes such as “I Want To Hold Your Hand” were sung, “and when I touch you I get high, I get high” when actually the Beatles were singing, “I can’t hide, I can’t hide.” Prior to this casual smoke sesh, the Beatles’ drug of choice was alcohol. “Till then we’d been hard scotch and Coke men,” Paul McCartney admitted. Well, Dylan rolled up a joint, passed it to John Lennon who promptly handed it to Ringo Starr, calling him his “Royal Taster.” Unaware of joint-passing etiquette (never thought of that before, have you?), Ringo finished the entire joint himself. A whole joint, all to himself the first time. So Dylan rolled a few more and over the course of the next few hours the Beatles fell into hysterics with Dylan just watching in delight.

After that, the Fab Four were converted. “The Beatles had gone beyond comprehension,” John Lennon said later on. “We were smoking marijuana for breakfast. We were well into marijuana and nobody could communicate with us, we were just glazed eyes, giggling all the time.” Fans of the band are well aware that their drug exploration didn’t stop there, but that’s a story for another day. For some time, the Beatles were a part of the free, peace and love movement of the 60’s, and they weren’t the only ones. The Rolling Stones were known smokers as well, and Keith Richards was even arrested for using his house as a designated weed smoking venue. He was sentenced to a year in jail in 1967, but appealed the conviction and got off. Both Brian Jones and Mick Jagger were arrested for possession of cannabis as well.

The Beatles were not so deterred by the law either, especially Paul McCartney. He was fined £100 ($170) for growing weed in 1970 at his Campbell farm in Scotland. When questioned, McCartney said that some fans gave him the seeds and that when he planted them he didn’t know what would grow. Later, in 1980, McCartney was held in Tokyo’s Narcotics Detention Center for nine days for trying to smuggle eight ounces of high-grade marijuana into Japan at the beginning of his Wings tour. He rationalized, “I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything to smoke over there. The stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I’d take it with me.”

Music and marijuana have been holding hands for decades, going as far back as the New Orleans jazz musicians circa 1910, according to cannabis historian Ernest Abel. It was these jazz cats who made marijuana an intrinsic part of jazz culture and later music culture in general. Whereas alcohol, the Beatles’ first chosen drug, can often cause inebriation and dulls the senses, marijuana, on the other hand, has aided musicians who have had to play multiple hour long sets back to back. Although the Beatles had taken speed while playing the clubs of Hamburg (in their early days before they returned to the U.K. famous and adored), marijuana made their music sound more awesome, creative and unique (apparently), especially to those who listened and played under its influence. Check out PPcorn’s 5 Most Awesomely Hilarious Rock Star Arrests and 5 Most Absolutely Absurd Rock Star Arrests.