When Heroin Became The Fifth Beatle in1969

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HOW JOHN LENNON’S ADDICTION TOOK ITS TOLL ON THE BAND

An excerpt from salon.com  to read the full article click here

KeithRichards: John Lennon was ‘a poor sod in many ways’ who came around to my house with Yoko Ono to take drugs. ‘I don’t think John ever left my house except horizontally,’ he says. Most of time he would
to lay on the floor holding the toilet and spuke all over ” .’

By January 1969 a much darker force had made its presence known in their world. During that fateful year, the Beatles suffered, as so many families do today, from the daily pain and bewilderment of an opioid addiction.

While heroin had infiltrated their midst, they managed — for a time, at least — to overcome the drug’s insidious nature. The Beatles, after all, were that good.

As history has demonstrated resoundingly, the band members were no strangers to drug experimentation.

However, Lennon’s addiction left his bandmates in a state of alarm. By the advent of the “Get Back” sessions, Ono openly joked about taking heroin being the couple’s form of exercise. “The two of them were on heroin,” said McCartney, “and this was a fairly big shocker for us because we all thought we were far-out boys, but we kind of understood that we’d never get quite that far out.”

Lennon later claimed that the couple’s addiction developed in the wake of a hashish raid on his Montagu Square flat by Detective-Sergeant Norman Pilcher’s notorious drugs squad. Lennon attributed Ono’s mid-November 1968 miscarriage to the raid’s aftermath, later remarking that “we were in real pain” after the loss of their baby. Yet at other times, he would attribute his flirtation with heroin to his bandmates’ refusal to accept Ono as their equal, claiming that they began to snort heroin “because of what the Beatles and their pals did to us.”

. “I never injected,” he liked to say. “Just sniffing, you know.” But as journalist and Lennon confidant Ray Connolly observed, Lennon “rarely did anything he liked by halves. Before long, heroin would become a problem for him.”

When the Beatles finally got to the business of recording “Abbey Road,” Lennon’s participation was delayed by a harrowing automobile accident in Scotland that left him and Ono briefly hospitalized and riddled with stitches. When he finally joined the other Beatles towards mid-July, he had a bed from Harrods installed in the studio to allow Ono to convalesce within easy reach.

Not surprisingly, the accident’s aftermath resulted in heroin being the couple’s go-to salve. Indeed, by this juncture, Lennon’s mood swings and absenteeism—the ups and downs of his erratic, unpredictable behavior—were likely the result of their protracted heroin use.

“The other Beatles had to walk on eggshells just to avoid one of his explosive rages. Whereas in the old days they could have tackled him about the strain that Yoko’s presence put on recording and had an old-fashioned set-to about it, now it was impossible because John was in such an unpredictable state and so obviously in pain.”

Years later, American actor Dan Richter, a friend of Ono’s, recalled making his way inside EMI Studios to provide Ono with the Lennons’ latest fix.  “I couldn’t help thinking that those guys were making rock ‘n’ roll history, while I was sitting on this bed in the middle of the Abbey Road studio, handing Yoko a small white packet.”

“We were very square people in a way,” said Ono. “We wouldn’t kick it in a hospital because we wouldn’t let anybody know. We just went straight cold turkey. The thing is, because we never injected, I don’t think we were sort of — well, we were hooked, but I don’t think it was a great amount. Still, it was hard. Cold turkey is always hard.”

In an effort to memorialize his recent experience trying to shake his heroin addiction, Lennon composed “Cold Turkey,” a song that illustrated the excruciating throes of heroin withdrawal in brutal detail.

It would take several more attempts for Lennon to beat the drug.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. John said a number of times he wasn’t addicted, that they sniffed it but never got hooked. Cold turkey song was started as being sick from bad turkey then turned into a song about getting off drugs. But I guess it makes the story more sensational to stretch the truth.

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