The Story Of How Bob Dylan Introduced Cannabis To The Beatles
Tom Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, George Harrison of The Beatles and Bob Dylan, inductees (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
With A Little Help From Bob Dylan
One of the most unforgettable things about the ’60s was how The Beatles transformed from being clean-cut mopheads to something a bit more psychedelic. Well as it turns out, we might just be able to pinpoint the exact day this began.
On August 28, 1964, Bob Dylan arrived at the Delmonico Hotel in New York after his show. The Fab Four were relaxing in their suite along with other people when Dylan was ushered by Mal Evans. Dylan only wanted cheap wine but Brian Epstein apologized and said, “I’m afraid we only have champagne.” Almost instinctively, Dylan and his reporter friend Al Aronowitz suggested to smoke weed.
At this suggestion, The Beatles looked at each other and Epstein admitted, “We’ve never smoked marijuana before.” As if it was the strangest thing he’s ever heard, Dylan asked in disbelief, “But what about your song? The one about getting high?”
The boys were baffled and John Lennon inquired, “Which song?” And to which Dylan responded and sang, “You know… and when I touch you I get high, I get high…” Apparently, he misheard the lyrics to their 1963 hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
via Team Coco/YouTube
After they corrected him, Aronowitz and Dylan started rolling joints. Since the former wasn’t that skilled, he left it all up to Dylan who was already beginning to get sloppy because of the alcohol. But while The Beatles had no experience smoking cannabis, it wasn’t exactly their first time to be introduced to it.
“We first got marijuana from an older drummer with another group in Liverpool. We didn’t actually try it until after we’d been to Hamburg. I remember we smoked it in the band room in a gig in Southport and we all learnt to do the Twist that night, which was popular at the time. We were all seeing if we could do it. Everybody was saying, ‘This stuff isn’t doing anything.’ It was like that old joke where a party is going on and two hippies are up floating on the ceiling, and one is saying to the other, ‘This stuff doesn’t work, man.’” – George Harrison
After Dylan lit the first joint, he passed it on to John Lennon who then gave it to Starr after he was done. Starr had no idea it was supposed to be passed around though, so he smoked it like a cigarette and almost finished it all. Soon, they were smoking their own joints, making jokes and laughing. They were giggling uncontrollably for hours.
And Paul McCartney kept on declaring that he was “thinking for the first time, really thinking.” And he even went on to instruct Mal Evans to follow him around and write everything he said.
It’s this meeting that eventually led The Beatles to create some of the greatest and most memorable records of all time. And yes, it all began with Bob Dylan and the glories of marijuana. They actually loved it so much that Paul McCartney was fined by the police for growing weed in his Scotland farm!
The Story Of How Bob Dylan Introduced Cannabis To The Beatles Tom Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, George Harrison of The Beatles and Bob Dylan, inductees (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Bob Dylan Introduced The Beatles To Cannabis, On This Day In 1964 [Video]
If you ever wondered who took the clean-cut members of the Beatles and turned them into soul searching songwriters capable of penning wildly psychedelic tunes like “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Within You Without You”, look no further than Bob Dylan. For it was on this day in 1964–so the story goes–when Dylan introduced John, Paul, George, and Ringo to the glories of smoking the ‘ol jazz cabbage.
Following their sold-out show at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NYC on August 28th, Dylan arrived to meet the Beatles at the Delmonico Hotel across the river in Manhattan where the popular folk singer wasted no time in almost immediately pulling out a joint to smoke with the mop-topped foursome. While the band relayed stories to Dylan of trying cannabis once a few years prior in 1960, they said it hadn’t worked. Dylan clearly had the goods–as rock stars typically do–and the Beatles would go on to get ridiculously high on that fateful evening in New York City.
Dylan had apparently misheard the “I can’t hide” lyrics of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as “I get high,” which inspired him to show up to meet the Beatles ready to smoke. When John Lennon told him the correct lyrics, Dylan responded incredulously and basically provided a bevy of joints for the Beatles’ all night long. Lennon would relive the experience on a later date, remarking, “I don’t remember much what we talked about. We were smoking dope, drinking wine, and generally being rock ‘n’ rollers and having a laugh, you know, and surrealism. It was party time.”
Paul McCartney insisted that one of the Beatles crew follow him around writing down all of his stoned ideas, believing that he was “Thinking for the first time,” and apparently coming up with a system of “Seven levels” that he progressed through during the experience. Read about his version of the story below:
I’d been going through this thing of levels, during the evening. And at each level I’d meet all these people again. ‘Ha ha ha! It’s you!’ And then I’d metamorphose on to another level…Mal gave me this little slip of paper in the morning, and written on it was, ‘There are seven levels!’ Actually it wasn’t bad. Not bad for an amateur. And we pissed ourselves laughing. I mean, ‘What the f—‘s that? What the f— are the seven levels?’ But looking back, it’s actually a pretty succinct comment. It ties in with a lot of major religions, but I didn’t know that then.
Watch Ringo revisit his memories from that fateful night during a 2012 interview on Conan below.
Ringo Starr on Conan – Bob Dylan Cannabis Story
Shoutout to Bob Dylan for blowing the Beatles’ minds in August 1964. Without you, we likely wouldn’t have Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, or Abbey Road.
Bob Dylan showed up, sparked up, and changed the lives of the Beatles by turning them on to cannabis, on this day in 1964.