1 January

Pick a Day

Music History Events: Drug-Related

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October 14, 1970 Leading up to his "War On Drugs" initiative, US President Richard Nixon encourages radio stations to work with him in stopping drug abuse. "If you can make a contribution here, I believe you will be serving the national interest," he says at the White House Conference on Drug Abuse.

October 10, 1970 The head of the FCC issues a statement in rebuttal to Vice President Spiro Agnew's complaint that radio stations were playing too many songs about drugs. The statement reads: "If we really want to do something about drugs, let's do something about life... The song writers are trying to help us understand our plight and deal with it. It's about the only leadership we're getting. They're not really urging you to adopt a heroin distribution program, Mr. Vice President."

September 3, 1970 Canned Heat frontman Alan Wilson commits suicide at age 27 via barbiturate overdose. A litany of other rock artists soon die at the same age, including Jimi Hendrix two weeks later.

August 14, 1970 After being found crawling along a motel hallway in San Diego, California, incoherent and "combative," Stephen Stills is arrested for possession of cocaine and barbiturates. It's another setback for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, who don't tour again until 1974.

June 23, 1970 Chubby Checker and three passengers are arrested in Niagara Falls after police discover marijuana and other unidentified capsules in the rocker's car. The charges are later dropped, however.

May 16, 1970 Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane is arrested on charges of drug possession in his Bloomington, Minnesota, hotel room after police find him smoking pot. His eventual punishment is a $100 fine.

March 16, 1970 Mary Ann Ganser (of The Shangri-Las) dies of a barbiturates overdose at age 22.

December 22, 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono meet with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Minister of Health John Munro to discuss drug abuse.

August 24, 1969 John Lennon writes, rehearses, and records a song about his recent heroin withdrawal entitled "Cold Turkey," where he also puts into practice his recent introduction to "primal scream" therapy. Fans and critics are shocked and appalled by the emotionally raw recording, a prelude to his eventual Plastic Ono Band album.

May 28, 1969 Mick Jagger and girlfriend Marianne Faithfull are arrested in their London home on charges of marijuana possession, but released on 50 pounds' bail.

May 16, 1969 Jack Casady, bassist for Jefferson Airplane, is arrested in New Orleans for possession of marijuana and given a suspended sentence of two-and-a-half years.

May 3, 1969 Canadian customs officials arrest Jimi Hendrix after finding heroin in his bag (he is acquitted in court).

March 31, 1969 George Harrison and his wife Pattie appear in court in Surrey, England, to answer recent charges of marijuana resin possession. Both are fined 250 pounds.

March 12, 1969 Infamous London police officer Det. Sgt. Norman Pilcher, well-known for singling out and busting rock stars, enters George Harrison's house in Esher, Surrey, England and arrests the Beatle and his wife Pattie for possession of marijuana (specifically, cannabis resin).

November 29, 1968 For his cannabis possession charge, John Lennon is fined $360 in a London court. The judge believes John's explanation that he no longer uses marijuana and had merely forgotten about the stash. Wife Yoko Ono is entirely cleared of charges. Lennon is the first Beatle to be charged with such a crime.

November 28, 1968 John Lennon and Yoko Ono appear at the Marylebone Magistrates' Court, London, to answer charges of cannabis resin posession. Lennon pleads guilty and is fined 150 pounds and 20 guineas.

March 20, 1968 Eric Clapton jams with Buffalo Springfield members Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Jim Messina and Richie Furay at the Topanga Canyon home of Stills' girlfriend. Neighbors call the cops, and all but Stills (who escapes through a window) are charged with suspicion of marijuana use. Clapton beats the rap; Young, Messina and Furay are found guilty and fined.

October 30, 1967 Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones pleads guilty to drug possession and gets a nine-month prison sentence.

October 2, 1967 The entire Grateful Dead are arrested for marijuana possession in San Francisco.

July 24, 1967 In response to their friend John Hopkins being sentenced to nine months in jail for marijuana possession, The Beatles take out full-page ad in The Times of London calling for legalization of the drug. "The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice," it reads.

June 29, 1967 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones are both found guilty on drug charges and sentenced in a London court; Richards gets one year, Jagger three months. Neither serve any time as an appeals court throws out the Richards conviction and reduces Jagger's sentence to probation.

March 21, 1967 John Lennon takes his first major LSD trip and freaks out while recording backing vocals on the track "Getting Better." Producer George Martin, not realizing the effects of the drug, takes Lennon to the roof of Abbey Road Studios to get some fresh air. Paul McCartney and George Harrison, upon learning where John is, rush up to get him down. The group works on a piano track for "Lovely Rita" instead.

February 5, 1967 Pop Stars And Drugs – Facts That Will Shock You screams the headline of the British newspaper News of the World. The article describes LSD parties thrown by The Moody Blues and attended by Pete Townshend, Ginger Baker and other prominent rock stars, and claims that Mick Jagger took Benzedrine tablets and lured girls back to his apartment to smoke hash. Jagger sues for libel, as it was actually Brian Jones with the Benzedrine. The paper responds by staking out Jagger and tipping police to drug activity at Keith Richards' Redlands estate. On February 12, police raid the place, arresting Jagger, Richards and Marianne Faithfull on drug charges.

December 3, 1966 Having been convicted of heroin and marijuana possession, Ray Charles is given a five-year suspended sentence and fined $10,000.

June 21, 1966 The Beatles record "She Said She Said," a song inspired by a party where Peter Fonda, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrisonn were taking acid. Paul McCartney, who did not partake at the party, finds himself frozen out of the recording session and leaves, so Harrison plays bass on the track.

December 28, 1965 Elvis Presley and his girlfriend Priscilla try LSD for the first, and last, time at his Graceland mansion.

October 3, 1965 Johnny Cash is stopped by US Customs officials at the Mexican border on suspicion of heroin smuggling and found to be holding over 1,000 prescription narcotics and amphetamines. He receives a suspended sentence.

October 31, 1964 Landing in Boston, Ray Charles is arrested when heroin and marijuana are found when he is searched at customs. He enters rehab to avoid jail.

August 28, 1964 The Beatles smoke pot for the first time, supplied by Bob Dylan, who joins the band after one of their concerts in New York state. Dylan is surprised they haven't tried it before, as he thought they sang "I get high" in their song "I Want To Hold Your Hand," when it was really "I can't hide."

December 14, 1963 Dinah Washington dies of an accidental barbiturate overdose at age 39.

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