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What is it that makes people and more specifically musicians get into drugs? This question is to be kept in mind when we talk about the most ionic band in Britain and the United States known as the Beatles. For a band that was seen as the most popular and influential during the 60s and up until the 70s with relevance still talked about today, it’s hard to imagine the band members getting into something as serious as drugs. This paper will discuss the evolution of drugs with specific rules set in place, the influence of drugs on the Beatles and hidden references of drugs depicted in the Beatles’ songs.

Drugs have always been a part of society whether it was for soothing pain or exerting euphoria. Back then though certain drugs such as cocaine, heroin, LSD were completely legal but today compels a war on them. The history of drugs will be exhibited from the points of view through both the United States and Britain since the Beatles were exposed to drugs in both of these countries. During 1960 in the UK the Dangerous Drug Act of 1951 was set in place to control the use, sale, making, and transport of drugs which pertained to heroin. However, it wasn’t until 1964 that the Dangerous Drug Act was modified where it pertained to allowing locations to have people be able to smoke cannabis. In addition, the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act of 1964 was enforced to outlaw the sale of amphetamines to the youth. Starting in 1966, the Prevention of Misuse Act was revised to regulate LSD possession. In 1967 anyone suspected of committing a drug related crime could be looked upon by the police and searched. Finally, in 1968, the Medicines Act was introduced to regulate the supply and administration of drugs for veterinary and human use. This sort of gives an overview of the certain acts set in stone for drugs during the 60s and how much drug use increased since more laws were put in place. The trend that we did see was during 1960 there were approximately 437 drug users, during 1961-1964 it was pretty constant but then in 1965 it jumped to 927 and then in 1967 it was 1729 (Shapiro and Monaghan, 2014). In the United States during 1914 cocaine was introduced and because of racial differences that resulted in violent behavior, the Harrison Tax Act was set to ban the drug. Alcohol was seen as wicked during 1919 and that resulted in the Volstead Act being passed through the Eighteenth Amendment in which it prevented the manufacture or sale of alcoholic drinks. But then in 1933 it was legal. Heroin was by far the most high-risk fun drug which got banned in 1924 because more and more people were getting addicted to it and crime rates were rising. In 1965 phencyclidine (or PCP) was a very favored recreational drug during the 60s and 70s but was ultimately banned due to its crazy hallucinating effects. Finally in 1968, LSD was one of the most recognizable fun drugs but since it contained severe hallucinating effects it was eventually banned (Richard, n.d.).

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The Beatles were introduced to drugs early on before they were famous, at the peak of the band’s career, and even later on. Benzedrine was the first drug the Beatles tried together by taking apart an inhaler by Royston Ellis in 1960 (The Beatles and drugs, p. 1). Seeing that the members were still relatively young this could have marked a pivotal realization for their drug use in years to come (or rather early onset). In order to stay awake performing for long hours in the night at clubs in Hamburg the members were given preludin, which is basically an energy pill that gave you a burst of energy to keep performing. Supposedly Tony Sheridan introduced them to it in 1961 (‘The Beatles and Drugs’, p. 1). The first encounter with LSD occurred when John and George along with their wives decided to have dinner at their dentist’s home when they were urged to stay for coffee after dinner in which the sugar cubes in the coffee contained LSD (‘The Beatles and Drugs’, p. 3). The second encounter was when they were on a break in their US tour in 1965. This occurred at an LA party where Ringo tried LSD for the first time, John and George did it for the second time, and Paul declined to try it at the time but eventually did later in the end of 1965. The stronger drug such as heroin was introduced to Paul and he eventually landed up taking it with Robert Fraser but didn’t land up liking it in the end. Probably one of the most memorable drug uses was when Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to smoking marijuana at the Delmonico Hotel.

Apart from the Beatles taking drugs they sort of used the effects of the drugs to inspire songs. ‘Day Tripper’ was written by Lennon/McCartney and was one of those songs where you would have never guessed was about the interaction with LSD because the message was well hidden behind the repetitive guitar riff and recognizable harmonies. This is evident in the phrase “She was a day tripper, a Sunday driver, yeah”, which portrays a lady only committing to doing LSD on Sundays and then goes about her typical life on the other days. Another phrase, “She took me half the way there”, shows that the ‘she’ refers to the drug and the other part indicates that the drug only lasted a short amount of time. Although this is what the song is about, most people would conclude it’s about a girl who didn’t want a relationship but lead a guy on but that’s not the case. ‘Got to Get You into My Life’ written by the Lennon/McCartney duo, but much credit was given to Paul, seems like it would be a love song written for a girl, but was actually about marijuana. For instance, Paul said, “It’s actually an ode to pot, like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret” (Sullivan, 2013). The song ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ was clearly about drug use seen through lyrics such as “Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour, roll up (and that’s an invitation)”, indicating that ‘roll up’ refers to rolling up a joint and the invitation referring to get high essentially. Although there were many more songs about drugs that the Beatles wrote this gives a clear indication how we can be blind sighted to thinking it’s about one thing but the true message is completely different.

The overall goal of this paper was to explore the use of drugs in the United States and Britain and relate it back to the Beatles and how that influenced the music the band members wrote. This just shows that although the Beatles weren’t any different than people doing drugs at the time, the goody two shoes act that was portrayed made it hard to believe they were caught up in a whirl wind of effects due to drugs. You never truly know the deep and darkest secrets of someone until they are revealed which is what was accomplished.

#heathcare #medical #medicalcare #pharmaceuticals #healthcareprofessional #nurses #healthprofessionals

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