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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)

The Day Bob Dylan Introduced the Beatles to Marijuana

The mid-to-late ’60s saw the Beatles morphing from mop-topped pop stars into Nehru jacket-wearing mystics – a transformation that may have started on Aug. 28, 1964, when Bob Dylan introduced the Fab Four to the joys of smoking marijuana.

The Beatles Bible notes that the event took place in the band’s suite at the Delmonico Hotel in New York. A bunch of people were there, including Beatles associate Peter Brown, John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney.

When Dylan – who was still a couple of years away from exhorting everyone to get stoned in “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” – arrived at the hotel, he asked for some wine, which the band sent road manager Mal Evans to procure. While Evans was away, Dylan suggested sparking up. As Harrison later recalled, the band had actually tried pot a few years before, but it hadn’t made much of an impression; as he put 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.'”

Clearly, Dylan was packing more potent stuff. But before he started rolling up, manager Brian Epstein revealed the band’s lack of experience with the drug, provoking an incredulous response from Dylan, who’d misheard the line “I can’t hide” in “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as “I get high.” Which is exactly what the stars proceeded to do. Lennon later recalled, “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.”

But McCartney had a more detailed record of the evening, thanks to his insistence that Evans follow him around with a pencil and paper, writing down everything he said. Believing he was “thinking for the first time,” he said, “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.”

But McCartney’s drug-fueled breakthrough didn’t amount to much in the morning. “Mal gave me this little slip of paper in the morning, and written on it was, ‘There are seven levels!'” he later remembered. “Actually it wasn’t bad. Not bad for an amateur. And we pissed ourselves laughing. I mean, ‘What the fuck’s that? What the fuck 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.”

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Bob Dylan gave the Beatles some weed on Aug. 28, 1964. ]]>