George Harrison’s Thoughts on LSD

LSD played a big role in The Beatlesevolution of music. It famously brought John Lennon and George Harrison closer together after they unknowingly took LSD for the first time after a dinner party host plopped some in their coffees. And it also created tensions in the band when Paul McCartney announced his hesitation to participate.

Two years after the first time Harrison took LSD, he gave an interview where he shared his thoughts on the psychedelic.

George Harrison of The Beatles, wearing a denim jacket, takes part in filming of the television musical film 'Magical Mystery Tour' in Plymouth, Devon on September 12, 1967.
George Harrison | David Redfern/Redferns

George Harrison didn’t ‘want to tell anyone else to have [LSD]’

Harrison felt there was a misunderstanding that after he took LSD, he was a huge proponent of the psychedelic. He said in an interview with Melody Maker in 1967 that it should be a totally individual choice.

“This is a thing that I want to try and get over to people,” he said, as recorded in the book George Harrison on George Harrison.” Although we’ve been identified a lot with hippies, especially since all this thing about pot and LSD’s come out, we don’t want to tell anyone else to have it because it’s something that’s up to the person himself. Although it was like a key that opened the door and showed a lot of things on the other side, it’s still up to people themselves what they do with it. LSD isn’t a real answer.”

“It doesn’t give you anything,” he continued. “It enables you to see a lot of possibilities that you may never have noticed before but it isn’t the answer. You don’t just take LSD and that’s it forever, you’re OK.”

‘If you’re really hip you don’t get involved with LSD’

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At the time, Harrison was deeply passionate about the spiritual journey he was on.

“A hippie is supposed to be someone who becomes aware—you’re hip if you know what’s going on,” he said. “But if you’re really hip you don’t get involved with LSD and things like that. You see the potential that it has and the good that can come from it, but you also see that you don’t really need it.”

To really understand one’s consciousness and their place in things, Harrison believed a person needed to get there “without drugs.”

“To get really high, you have to do it straight,” he said. “There are special ways of getting high without drugs—with yoga, meditation and all those things. So this was the disappointing thing about LSD.”

George Harrison on trying LSD for the first time unbeknownst to him

The first time Harrison took LSD, he didn’t know what it was.

“Actually, I didn’t know that I’d had it, I’d never even heard of it then,” he said. “This is something that just hasn’t been told. Everybody now knows that we’ve had it but the circumstances were that somebody just shoved it in our coffee before we’d ever heard of the stuff. So we happened to have it quite unaware of the fact.”

At the time of the interview, Harrison said he “needed it the first time I ever had it.”

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“I don’t mind telling people I’ve had it,” he said. “I’m not embarrassed. It makes no difference because I know that I didn’t actually go out and try to get some.”

What the Beatle wanted to leave the reader with was: LSD is not good or bad — it fulfills different needs for different people and it isn’t for everyone.

“In this physical world we live in, there’s always duality—good and bad, black and white, yes and no,” he said. “Whatever there is, there’s always the opposite. There’s always something equal and opposite to everything and this is why you can’t say LSD is good or it’s bad, because it’s good AND it’s bad. It’s both of them and it’s neither of them all together. People don’t consider that.”