McCartney, about to turn 70
On the eve of his 70th birthday, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney has told Rolling Stone magazine he’s given up smoking marijuana so he can be a better parent to 8-year-old Beatrice, his daughter with former wife Heather Mills.
McCartney, at left, with fellow Beatles in earlier years
Days after finally getting his own star in Hollywood’s Walk of Fame – the last Beatle to be so honored – he told the magazine: “When you’re bringing up a youngster, your sense of responsibility does kick in. Enough’s enough.”
According to the British Press Association, he did not explain why he didn’t see the need to stop his drug use while raising his four other
children, Mary Anna, Stella, Heather and James — the youngest who is 35.
McCartney and the Beatles were blamed throughout the 1960-70s for popularizing recreational drug use, which was cited for some of the nonsensical lyrics on the Magical Mystery Tour, Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band albums. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” allegedly glorified LSD use, a charge the Beatles denied.
The foursome publicizing the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album
Drugs seemed to explain the perplexing lyrics of “I Am the Walrus,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Consider these words from “Come Together”:
Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball, he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please
He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger, he shoot coca-cola
He say “I know you, you know me”
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me
The song was reportedly inspired by LSD-proponent Timothy Leary’s campaign for governor of California against Ronald Reagan, which abruptly ended when Leary was sent to prison for drug possession.
McCartney has previously confessed to using cocaine and heroin. He and the other Beatles reportedly tried marijuana for the first time in
1964, when they met Bob Dylan at a New York Hotel. Dylan had misunderstood the line “I can’t hide” in the Beatles’ song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as “I get high,” and assumed they were already marijuana users.
The band admitted to being stoned throughout most of the filming of the movie Help! in 1965. McCartney has told interviewers that the songs “Got To Get You Into My Life” and “Fixing A Hole” were “odes to pot.” In 1967, all four members of the group signed a petition to legalize marijuana.
They were reportedly introduced to LSD by George Harrison’s dentist in late 1965. Ringo Starr said years later that “whenever we overdid our intake, the music we made was absolutely [expletive.]”
In the summer of 1967, after taking up Hindu-based Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the band publicly renounced all drug use, however resumed using alcohol and drugs after parting ways with him.
In 1968-9, John Lennon and Yoko Ono fought herion addictions that lasted for more than a year. The two were arrested for hashish possession in 1968, as was Harrison in 1969.
The Beatles, circa 1965
But it was McCartney has had the most run-ins with police — busted for marijuana in 1972, 1980, 1981 and 1984. He spent nine days in jail in Japan for trying to bring marijuana into the country and later had
problems getting permission to enter the United States because of the drug arrests.
In a 2004 magazine interview, McCartney said, “I tried heroin just the once. Even then, I didn’t realize I’d taken it. I was just handed something, smoked it, then found out what it was. It didn’t do anything for me, which was lucky because I wouldn’t have fancied heading down that road. I did cocaine for about a year around the time of ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ coke and maybe some grass to balance it out. I was never completely crazy with cocaine.
“I’d been introduced to it and at first it seemed OK, like anything that’s new and stimulating. When you start working your way through it, you start thinking, ‘Mmm, this is not so cool an idea,’ especially when you start getting those terrible comedowns.”
Of his ordeal, he said: “I kept thinking, ‘What have I done to my family?’ I was thrown into nine days of turmoil. It was very, very scary.”
Shunned by society before the 1960s, today marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug among youth, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.