Top 11 LSD Musical Moments

18. srpna 2012 v 4:06 | Marc Shapiro |  Psychedelic culture, music & media

LSD and rock musicians - we all know the score.

Dropping acid. Lots of pretty colors and lots of freaky mind-shit. Some great songs. Some great long songs because any musician worth his salt knows it's hard to tell time when you're tripping the Lysergic Acid fantastic.
Here's a few great stories, some myth debunking and some amazing stuff that is totally unbelievable, only because it's believable. Hang onto your sugar cubes.


1. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Yes The Beatles were doing LSD and just about anything they could get their hands on in 1967 when they recorded Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds for the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album . Upon release, speculation ran rampant that the song was a very thinly disguised ode to the band's favorite drug.
John Lennon would insist to his dying day that he was inspired to write the Lennon/McCartney song when he picked his son up Julian up from school in Weybridge, Surrey and the boy showed him a childish painting of nursery school classmate Lucy O'Donnell, which he called "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." O'Donnell died in 2009 at the age of 46.
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds? - Lucy O' Donnell
McCartney, on the other hand, insisted in a 2004 interview, that "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was the one about acid. That's pretty obvious."


2. LSD (or £sd) by The Pretty Things
Before the notion of LSD made its leap into public consciousness, the letters were an abbreviation for the British monetary system 'Pounds, sterling, pence'. But the band The Pretty Things knew where all this was going and on their 1966 album Get The Picture, they included a song entitled LSD that played up the money side as well as a boatload of double entendres regarding the coming drug reference.
You can win a lot of bets with this one. The very first band to record a song with LSD as the title.


3. Jimi Hendrix's Mind-Altering Headband
There are so many stories about Jimi Hendrix and acid floating around that if even one of them were true, that would make Hendrix a literal god of LSD. The cool thing is that the Hendrix mystique is so shrouded in mystery that nobody is sure exactly what is true and what is fiction. So here's the best of the bunch:
Hendrix would reportedly regularly put numerous hits of LSD inside his headband which would seep into his pores and spur his guitar antics to greater heights. One story has it that he would occasionally cut his head above his brow give the hits a direct line to his mind. One urban legend has it that Hendrix took fifty hits of LSD the day he played Woodstock and the result of LSD overload was his fiery version of The Star Spangled Banner.
And for you completists… Purple Haze is not about LSD.


4. Green Day Takes The Acid Longview
LSD inspired musical genius has not been limited to the '60s. Case in point - Green Day and their memorable '90s hit Longview off their 1994 breakout lp 'Dookie'.
Love that bass line? Well here's how it came down. It seems band member Mike Dirnt was fiddling with his bass when he decided to drop some acid. When singer Billie Joe Armstrong came upon his mate, he found him lying against a wall with his bass lying in his lap, playing a driving, thudding bass line.
Dirnt would tell Rolling Stone that "I was frying on acid so hard." But what came out of the Lysergic mind bath was the landmark intro to the band's ode to boredom Longview. Once the acid wore off Dirnt would recall having a hard time playing the lick: "It seemed to make more sense when I was on drugs." Collectively the band made it work and the song ended up earning a Grammy and countless new Green Day fans.







5. Lennon/Fonda, Lennon/Leary Compositions?
The Beatles' song She Said, She Said preceded what many consider the ultimate LSD album Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band by two years. She Said contained the line "I know what it's like to be dead," a line that was actually muttered by actor Peter Fonda during a prolonged acid trip he took with The Beatles.


Lennon also found much to like in LSD guru Timothy Leary's seminal work The Psychedelic Experience and used several lines from the volume in the Beatles song Tomorrow Never Knows.



6. FBI Dosed At Grateful Dead Shows
During the psychedelic '60′, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI found a new 'Red Menace' to spend our tax dollars on: the alleged drug-trafficking of The Grateful Dead and the even more alleged youth-corruption of the Jefferson Airplane.
The Dead were allegedly (don't you love that word) buying up massive quantities of LSD and introducing them into the youth culture, aided and abetted by The Jefferson Airplane. Things got so outrageous that FBI agents armed with cameras, notebooks and wearing those adorable FBI style black shoes, would regularly attended Dead/Airplane shows to get the goods on them.


What regularly happened was that the FBI agents were unwittingly converted to the other side when the drinks they were consuming at the shows were secretly dosed with LSD. If you were there, you probably saw them. They were the ones the LSD had no effect on.

7. Boy George Gets Pissed
Boy George had taken all kinds of drugs in all kinds of quantities. As he described in his autobiography, the night he decided to drop acid for the first time was a doozy. He took one hit, waited an hour, became impatient when nothing happened and promptly took another. Then he was off to a club with some mates where the LSD kicked in and reduced The Culture Club singer to a puddle on the floor. His friends dragged him home.
He explained in his book that once home, he promptly lost control of all bodily functions. "I was tripping so badly that I couldn't get myself to the toilet." Finally he was helped to the loo. "I caught my melting face in the mirror and freaked. Then I pissed myself."

Many others might also freak seeing George's face in their mirror as well.


8. John Lennon's Cry For Help
Yes, Lennon seems to be everywhere on this list. It was Lennon who said famously in a 1980 Playboy Magazine interview: "We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD." The long held theory that Lennon, Harrison and their ladies unknowingly took their first LSD trip courtesy of (coincidentally?) Playboy Executive Victor Lownes is not true. It was John ("The Wicked Dentist") Riley who did the deed.
{George Harrison and John Lennon talking about Riley and L.S.D.]


Most people would not consider the song Help anything more than a catchy bit of pop. The reality is that, according to many pop historians, it was actually the first of many LSD songs that would make regular appearances on the likes of Revolver, Rubber Soul and, of course the ultimate contact high Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In a long buried radio interview Lennon readily acknowledged that he wrote Help in the recording studio while in the middle of an LSD trip.


9. The Syd Barrett Acid Test
The late lamented Syd Barrett is legendary for a lot of reasons. What is less known about the Pink Floyd genius madman was that when it came to his copious consumption of LSD, he was a literal Dr. Frankenstein.
Not content to simply ingest it orally, Barrett would often put acid inside his eyelids and let it seep into his brain that way. When going on stage, he would often indulge in putting a mixture of hair gel and LSD in his hair and letting the mixture melt into his brain during the heat of a performance. For an even further kick, Barrett would sometimes mix the LSD and hair gel with a particularly nasty Barbiturate of the day called Mandrax, a drug so uncompromising that it would eventually be taken off the market.
Those old enough to remember 1967 and a memorable gig at the long gone to history Cheetah Club in Los Angeles may have heard the account of the night when Barrett - along with Pink Floyd as opening act for The Candymen - presented a truly horrifying picture when one of his aforementioned LSD bombs began melting down his face.


10. Moody Blues: One Hell Of A Party
It's not too far a reach to consider that the philosophically high-brow and spiritual Moody Blues did not have a touch of the old Lysergic Acid in their lineage. The veteran British band has made no bones about the fact that, early on, their drug de jour was whatever audiences at their concerts threw on stage.

But the Blues were particularly fond of LSD. So much so that, in the song Legend Of A Mind, they inserted an ode to the guiding light of the drug when they crooned "Timothy Leary's dead / Oh, no, no, no, he's outside looking in…"
And during the high flying '60s, the band was the perfect drug host, orchestrating a series of drug-fused parties that often featured LSD as the main course. Among those in attendance on a regular basis would be Donovan, The Who's Pete Townshend and Cream's Ginger Baker.

11. And finally, "The King Of Acid"
The late Grateful Dead soundman Owsley "Bear" Stanley was a true Renaissance man. He was taping live shows by some of the greats when nobody else had an inkling.
But his true forte was LSD, and lots of it. Over his lifetime, Stanley manufactured and distributed more than 1.25 million doses of acid, supplying The Dead, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Ken Kesey. Owsley Acid was the acid in Kesey's classic novel The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
So it was safe to say that any band within spitting distance of the Haight was getting their share. The band Blue Cheer reportedly took their name from a brand of LSD that we manufactured by Stanley. So you know where their head was at.
Stanley moved to Australia in the 1980s to survive what he believed was coming: a cataclysmic North American ice-age storm. He died in 2011 at the age of 76 when he crashed his car…in a storm.


* In case this article has made you feel charitable: An Owsley Stanley foundation was set up in 2011 with a "Save The Tapes!" campaign. It's purpose: to raise money for the digitization, preservation, and release of Bear's Sonic Journals, a trove of over a thousand live concert recordings from the heart of the psychedelic era. More information here: OwsleyStanleyFoundation.org
~*~*~*
Marc Shapiro's book Adele: The Biography is out there. His biography on Fifty Shades Of Grey author EL James will be out there shortly. The online literary magazine Underground Voices will feature his short story What's In A Name in its September issue. His essay on the whole Fifty Shades Of Grey story will be included in the anthology 50 Writers On 50 Shades in November.

 

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