Meet The Doctor Who Slipped LSD Into The Beatles’ Coffee


The Beatles got hooked on LSD thanks to a doctor.

The Beatles
photo via Rolling Stone

Doctors are supposed to be good role models for us and our children. But the one that was hanging out with some of the Fab Four may not have been the best influence.

John Riley was a dentist in north London, or the “wicked dentist,” as George Harrison put it in Anthology.

One night, Riley and his wife were having dinner with Harrison and his wife, Patti Boyd, and John Lennon and his wife, Cynthia.

Without the Beatles’ knowledge, Riley slipped some LSD — an unrestricted medication — into everyone’s coffee.

“I seem to recall that I’d heard vaguely about [LSD],” Harrison said later. “But I didn’t really know what it was, and we didn’t know we were taking it. The bloke had put it in our coffees.”

And Riley hadn’t put it in his own coffee, just everyone else’s.

The Beatles
photo via Pinterest

After he insisted that everyone finish their coffee, he told them they’ve had LSD. Harrison said, “Well, what’s that? So what?” Then he said they should leave to go to the nightclub they’d been planning to go to.

The effect didn’t hit them until they got to the club and sat down.

“…Suddenly I felt the most incredible feeling come over me,” Harrison explained. “It was something like a very concentrated version of the best feeling I’d ever had in my whole life. It was fantastic.

He said he felt love for every single person in that club, even though he didn’t know any of them.

“I felt in love, not with anything or anybody in particular, but with everything,” he said. “Everything was perfect, in a perfect light, and I had an overwhelming desire to go round the club telling everybody how much I loved them — people I’d never seen before.”

But then, later that night, Harrison had moments “hysterics” and craziness. At one point, they got on an elevator and believed it was “on fire and we were going into hell.”

As insane as this story sounds, there is a silver lining. Many people believe this experience led to their 1965 No. 1 hit “Help!”

The lyrics people cite are “Now I find I’ve changed my mind, opened up the doors” and “My independence seems to vanish in the haze.”

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Caleb Murphy is a musician who writes about music. His writing appears in Consequence Of Sound, Pittsburgh City Paper, and some other cool places. He blogs about music at
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