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Paul McCartney Recalls Trying Pot With Bob Dylan

Paul McCartney recalled when Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana in 1964, saying Ringo Starr was the first band member to try the drug.

Though he recalled hearing that Dylan wasn’t happy being called “the guy who turned the Beatles on,” McCartney described the experience at New York’s Delmonico Hotel as a positive one.

During the same interview where he labeled Elvis Presley the second-coolest person he’d ever met, McCartney told the Adam Buxton Podcast: “I remember it pretty well. We were staying in that hotel, and I think we were on tour. So we were all together in the hotel suite; we were having a drink, and then Bob arrived. We said ‘hi,’ and he vanished into a back room, one of the rooms off the suite. So we just carried on . but Ringo went back to see him.”

The drummer returned a few minutes later, “looking a little bit dazed and confused,” he continued. “We said, ‘What’s up?’ He said, ‘Oh, Bob’s smoking pot back there.’ We’d never had it. So we said, ‘What’s it like?’ Ringo said, ‘Well, the ceiling feels like it’s coming down a bit.’ We go, ‘Whoa!’ And we all just dashed in the back room to partake of the evil substance. That was quite an evening. It was crazy. It was great fun.”

McCartney — who said in 2015 that no longer smoked pot — added: “I’m not sure Bob is keen on being labeled as the guy who turned the Beatles on. I’ve heard that he’s sort of trying to play it down a bit — but whatever, that’s the truth. We met him on other occasions under those kind of circumstances, but it was very nice.”

Adding that he “hung out with Bob a few times,” including other evenings in hotels, he said, “We had some good times together. He’s a great bloke.”

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Paul McCartney, in a December 2020 interview, recalled being introduced to pot by Bob Dylan, saying Ringo Starr was the first Beatle to try it.

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)