Today marked a turning point in George Harrison’s life: the last time he took LSD…or whatever it was that he took; shortly after he arrived in San Francisco, he said, a radio DJ gave him “some concoction” of drugs,

and then we went off to Haight-Ashbury. I went there expecting it to be a brilliant place, with groovy gypsy people making works of art and paintings and carvings in little workshops. But it was full of horrible spotty drop-out kids on drugs, and it turned me right off the whole scene.

At first, according to Patti Boyd (then Harrison), everything had been great:

We got out of the car, the acid kicked in and everything was just whoah, psychedelic and very… I mean, it was just completely fine. We went into a shop and noticed that all these people were following us. They had recognised George as we walked past them in the street, then turned to follow us. One minute there were five, then ten, twenty, thirty and forty people behind us.

But then it started to turn. George:

I became really afraid, because the concoction that the DJ had given me was having an effect. I could see all the spotty youths, but I was seeing them from a twisted angle. It was like the manifestation of a scene from an Hieronymus Bosch painting, getting bigger and bigger, fish with heads, faces like vacuum cleaners coming out of shop doorways.

Pattie again:

We were so high, and then the inevitable happened: a guitar emerged from the crowd and I could see it being passed to the front by outstretched arms. I thought, Oh, God, poor George, this is a nightmare. Finally the guitar was handed to him. I had the feeling that they’d listened to the Beatles’ records, analysed them, learnt what they’d thought they should learn, and taken every drug they’d thought the Beatles were singing about. Now they wanted to know where to go next. And George was there, obviously, to give them the answer. Pressure.

George was so cool. He said, “This is G, this is E, this is D,” and showed them a few chords, then handed back the guitar and said, “Sorry, man, we’ve got to go now.” He didn’t sing – he couldn’t have: he was flying. We all were. I was surprised he could even do that. [Ed. note: Other sources claim that George sang “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” as he strolled among the hippies.]

Anyway, we got up and walked back towards our limo, at which point I heard a little voice say, “Hey, George, do you want some STP?”

George turned around and said, “No, thanks, I’m cool, man.”

Then the bloke turned round and said to the others, “George Harrison turned me down.”

And they went, “No!”

And then the crowd became faintly hostile. We sensed it because when you’re that high you’re very aware of vibes, and we were walking faster and faster, and they were following.

When we saw the limo, we ran across the road and jumped in, and they ran after us and started to rock the car, and the windows were full of these faces, flattened against the glass, looking at us.

Aaaaah! Zombie hippies! Run for your life!

The bad trip continued when they fled San Francisco and boarded a flight to Monterey, which suddenly stalled and began to drop in the middle of a turn. “The whole dashboard lit up saying ‘UNSAFE’ right across it,” said George.

I thought, “Well, that’s it.” Alex was chanting, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,” and I was saying, “Om, Christ, Om…”

If the scene in the Haight didn’t scare George straight, this surely did: “Oh, no, I’m going to die on acid in a plane with Magic Alex!” But the pilots managed to gain control and they flew on to Monterey, where everyone went to the beach to get their heads together. Afterward they visited a cafe where the waitress at first mistook them for just another band of hippies, says Derek Taylor.

When the waitress, pretending not to see us in this Lytham-St-Anne’s-on-Pacific, was hailed by George (“We have got the money, you know,” he said finally, not quietly, waving a thousand dollars in bills) she recognised him and dropped every piece of crockery she was holding. Dozens of plates and saucers and cups shattered on the floor.

After all this, George decided he was done with acid.

That was the turning-point for me – that’s when I went right off the whole drug cult and stopped taking the dreaded lysergic acid. I had some in a little bottle (it was liquid). I put it under a microscope, and it looked like bits of old rope. I thought that I couldn’t put that into my brain any more.

This opened up a space in George’s world that would soon be filled with transcendental meditation and the Maharishi. The Summer of Love went on without him, ever spottier and more horrible as the season began to wane.

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