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In 1967, Paul McCartney admitted that The Beatles had taken LSD. This, of course, sparked major controversy and brought criticism to the band. Each of McCartney’s bandmates had taken LSD more than him, but they’d avoided speaking about it publicly. They weren’t happy with McCartney for breaking the news to the media. 

Paul McCartney irritated the other Beatles by talking about LSD

In 1967, McCartney gave an interview in which he admitted to having taken drugs.

“I remember a couple of men from ITN showed up, and then the newscaster arrived: ‘Is it true you’ve had drugs?’” he said in The Beatles Anthology. “They were at my door — I couldn’t tell them to go away — so I thought, ‘Well, I’m either going to try to bluff this, or I’m going to tell him the truth.’ I made a lightning decision: ‘Sod it. I’ll give them the truth.’”

The band received swift criticism for this. While none of the other Beatles thought it should be a problem, they wished McCartney had kept his mouth shut.

A black and white picture of Paul McCartney sitting in a suit and sitting in a chair.
Paul McCartney | Fiona Adams/Redferns

“It was all over the newspapers,” George Harrison said. “The press had a field day. I thought Paul should have been quiet about it — I wish he hadn’t said anything, because it made everything messy. People were bugging us about it for ages.”

Ringo Starr agreed, noting that McCartney was “always” the one who revealed news like this. 

“The problem was that it gave the press an excuse to be on all our cases,” he said. “I personally didn’t think it was any of their business; but once Paul said it (and this applied to anything anyone ever said in The Beatles), the other three had to deal with it — which we did with all love, because we loved each other. But I could have done without it, myself.”

McCartney said his bandmates believed he planned the reveal. 

“The others always thought I had announced it on purpose,” he said. “The truth was that I got caught on camera by a news team and had to decide quickly whether to tell the truth or not.”

Paul McCartney was the last member of The Beatles to take LSD

Though McCartney was the one who broke the news, he was the last member of The Beatles to try LSD. He had long worried it would permanently change him.

“When acid came around, we heard that you were never the same after you took it — it alters your life, and you can never think in the same way again,” he said. “I think John was rather excited by this prospect, but I was rather frightened by it. Just what I need,’ | thought. ‘I’m going to have some funny little thing, and then I’ll never be able to get back home again. Oh Jeez!’”

He felt that his bandmates pressured him into trying it

Eventually, of course, he did try LSD. He said that this was largely because his bandmates pressured him into it.

“So I delayed, and I think I was seen to stall a little bit within the group,” he said. “Talk about peer pressure! I mean, The Beatles had got to be one of the ultimate peer pressures going; they were my mates, my fellow musicians.”

A black and white picture of The Beatles sitting on a couch with tea cups on a table in front of them. Paul McCartney sips from a cup and George Harrison holds a newspaper.
The Beatles | Fox Photos/Getty Images

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He began to fear getting left behind by his bandmates. 

“And within a band, it’s more than peer pressure, it’s fear pressure,” he said in the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles. “It becomes trebled, more than just your mates, it’s, ‘Hey, man, this whole band’s had acid, why are you holding out? What’s the reason, what is it about you?’ So I knew I would have to out of peer pressure alone.”