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August 28, 1964 - Bob Dylan Gets the Beatles Stoned for the First Time

This Day in Cannabis History:

It was 57 years ago today that rock and roll's most influential artists, The Beatles, got high for the very first time...with a little help from a friend (naturally) by the name of Bob Dylan.

The Fab Four had landed at Kennedy Airport around 3 am on the morning of August 28, 1964. There, they were greeted by around 3000 screaming fans, then driven to The Delmonico Hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan. That evening, they were flown by helicopter to Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens for the first of two performances in front of a crowd of 16,000. After returning to the hotel, their friend Al Aronowitz (a journalist) introduced them to folk music legend Bob Dylan, who in turn introduced them to marijuana.

According to the book The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, Dylan was surprised to learn that they were cannabis virgins:

Brian [Epstein] and The Beatles looked at each other apprehensively. “We’ve never smoked marijuana before,” Brian finally admitted. Dylan looked disbelievingly from face to face.

“But what about your song?” he asked. “The one about getting high?”

The Beatles were stupefied. “Which song?” John [Lennon] managed to ask.

Dylan said, “You know…” and then he sang, “and when I touch you I get high, I get high…”

John flushed with embarrassment. “Those aren’t the words,” he admitted. “The words are, ‘I can’t hide, I can’t hide, I can’t hide…'”

Dylan busted out his bag of weed and started rolling a joint, but reportedly was doing a sloppy job of it, so his driver and close friend Victor Maymudes finished the job. To avoid any possible problems from the 20 or so police guarding the door of their suite, the group all filed into a bedroom, locked the doors, and sealed the bottoms with towels. Dylan lit the first joint and passed it to John Lennon, who immediately passed it to his "royal taster" Ringo. Unaware of the "puff puff pass" stoner etiquette, Ringo allegedly bogarted the whole joint to himself. More joints were rolled and soon everyone was high and having a blast.

"We actually all got stoned and we were giggling. It was giggling time and we were uncontrollable," Paul McCartney remembered. “We were kind of proud to have been introduced to pot by Dylan...that was rather a coup.”

From then on, The Beatles became hardcore potheads.

"We were smoking marijuana for breakfast," Lennon once said. "We were well into marijuana and nobody could communicate with us, we were just glazed eyes, giggling all the time.”

Marijuana had a profound impact on The Beatles' music—transforming them from mere performers into true artists by inspiring deeper lyrics and more experimentation in the studio. According to McCartney, their song “Got to Get You into My Life” (released the following year on the Revolver album) was “entirely about pot.” And their most celebrated achievement, 1967's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, was also inspired and fueled by cannabis.

“Do you know what caused [Sgt.] Pepper?” McCartney once told a reporter. “In one word, drugs. Pot. Sgt. Pepper was a drug album."


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