"I've seen my own DNA": Paul McCartney on his LSD experience with the Beatles in the 1960s
Paul McCartney also admits that taking acid changed him forever and that he does not rule out trying it again, although he prefers not to.
Paul McCartney recently turned 76, and it looks like he has no plans of slowing down. The former Beatle released his 18th solo studio album Egypt Station last week, his first original full-length effort since 2013's New.
It also looks like Macca is still keener than ever to share mind-blowing anecdotes from his seven-decade-plus career as a living rock legend. In a new, detailed interview with GQ, the singer-songwriter touched upon a host of topics -- from much tamer topics like his reply to Quincy Jones calling him the "worst bass player ever" and his friendship with Kanye West, to much more risque anecdotes like the decadent Beatles orgies and masturbating alongside John Lennon, McCartney doled out several eyebrow-raising anecdotes from the old days as well as the new.
A particularly insightful topic he addressed in the interview was the Beatles introduction to LSD in the 1960s and the impact the drug had on Macca. Indeed, The Beatles are probably the poster-children of the acid-fueled counterculture era and the impact of the drug on their music is something they have acknowledged many times in past interviews, with McCartney being the first one to open up about it to the Press. In fact, the song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is thought by many to have been a reference to the drug (the initials of the song title spell 'LSD'), but in reality, that wasn't the case.
The story goes that the powerful hallucinogenic drug that shaped the counterculture movement was introduced to John Lennon and George Harrison by a dentist at a dinner party who slipped it into their drinks. While John, George, and Ringo were the first to try it, Paul McCartney was the last to get on board and was always wary of the substance. But that doesn't change the fact that it changed him as a person forever.
"I mean, in the '60s, when we were tripping away, I remember once in London taking acid and going through the trip — you know, all of that, as anyone who's ever taken that shit knows what I'm talking about, just the whole intense vision of what the world is, other than how you see it normally," McCartney says.
He goes on to explain how he once took the drug and proceeded to visualize the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule while tripping.
"And I remember at the height of it seeing this thing that was like a spiral going up in, in my brain, and it was beautiful colors, like multicolored gems going up this spiral. And then, shortly thereafter, [scientists] discovered the DNA helix..."
"I certainly have a feeling, not only my own birth, I've seen my own DNA," Macca adds.
Of course, there is one glaring factual loophole in Macca's anecdote. The double helix structure of the DNA molecule was discovered in 1953 by scientists Watson and Crick, when Paul McCartney was just 11 years old! But it's interesting to note that there is a popular urban legend which claims that Francis Crick saw the molecular structure himself while under the influence of the drug.
McCartney also went on to speak about the trend of 'microdosing', a popular trend that has been emerging especially in Silicon Valley which includes using minute doses of LSD on a regular basis to enhance productivity without experiencing all the hallucinatory effects of the drug. "I was with a friend the other day, and the latest thing is microdosing. And he was microdosing," McCartney said, before adding that he himself has not tried it.
"Well. I was asked just the other day, and I thought, 'You know what, I've got the grandkids and stuff. There's enough going on. I'm okay'," he says, before smiling 'devilishly' and adding, "I'm not ruling it out."
He also added that being offered to microdose by his friend "it brought back that feeling of peer pressure from the '60s". Elaborating on his reluctance to try it with the rest of the band at the time, Macca notes: "Yeah. I heard it changes you and you'll never be the same again. I thought: 'Well, that could be a double-edged sword.' You know, we could be ending up in a loony bin, and 'Sorry, Paul—I didn't mean to give you so much' or 'It was the wrong batch' or something. I'm very practical, and my father was very sensible and raised me to be a sensible cat."
When he was asked if he was indeed never the same again after experiencing the LSD experience, McCartney agreed that he wasn't. "But it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined, it wasn't a sort of horrific thing. But you certainly weren't the same again. You certainly had insights into what life might be," he explained.
Finally, he did admit that he was pleased to have tried out the hallucinogen but said that he wished sometimes that the trip would end sooner.