I working in a
last week and the students were talking about drugs that other students use. They asked me if there was a lot of cocaine around when I was in high school and I told them none of us had ever seen cocaine in 1973. But some students had used LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide). Wichita High School
“What is LSD,” about three of them said in unison.
It occurred to me that LSD has nearly disappeared from the drug scene. Maybe that is not a bad thing, but I realized how much LSD played a role in our counter culture in 1973.
When I first heard of LSD, in 1969, it was called "Orange Sunshine" acid. It came in small pills about the size of a baby aspirin. By 1973 there were many forms of LSD, or acid as they called it and it came in pills of all colors and sizes including the smallest tablets known as "Microdots." I used to see microdots in several colors, the most common was blue. They were the size of a pinhead and high school students today find it hard to believe such a small dose of any drug could get a person “high.”
There were also the many forms of blotter acid which was the liquid soaked into paper. It came on sheets with all kinds of logos on it. I remember one of them called Mr. Natural, after an underground cartoon character, drawn by Robert Crumb. Like most LSD the individual hits were very small, about a quarter inch. It was put on the tongue and allowed to soak into a person’s system. Then there was "Windowpane". It was mixed in a gelatin and looked like a tiny clear square. The last acid trip I ever took was about 1977 and it was blue windowpane.
These pills were a little larger than a pin head. It was among one of the most potent doses I ever took.
Here is a quick history of the drug with information from Wikipedia;
LSD was first synthesized on November 16, 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland as part of a large research program searching for medically useful ergot alkaloid derivatives.
LSD is a derivative of ergot mold.
Beginning in the 1950s the
Central Intelligence Agency began a research program code named Project MKULTRA. Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions, usually without the subject's knowledge. The project was revealed in the US congressional Rockefeller Commission report in 1975. US
According to Health & Family (Time);
The LSD experiments were purportedly carried out because the
U.S. believed that communist Russia, North Korea and were using the drug to brainwash captured Americans. Consequently, the CIA didn’t want to fall behind in developing and responding to this potentially useful technology. China
So, incredibly, it decided to slip acid secretly to Americans — at the beach, in city bars, at restaurants. For a decade, the CIA conducted completely uncontrolled tests in which they drugged people unknowingly, then followed and watched them without intervening. In some cases, the agency used the drug to perform interrogations, but these procedures were conducted so inconsistently that they proved equally useless in providing useful data.
Before all the hippies used the drug it was used in psychiatry for the treatment of alcoholism, pain and cluster headache relief, for spiritual purposes, and to enhance creativity.
The following history of the 1960’s acid rock trend is from Can You Pass The Acid Test?, By Steve Otto, Publish
, 2007; America
Drug use was the most visable part of the counter-culture to the average American. A poll in 1969, by Roper, reported that 76 % of American college seniors said they had never tried marijuana and 96 % said they had never tried LSD. Other polls had similar findings. A Gilbert national survey of American youth, in 1970, found that only about 10 % of the young people had tried any drug. Still, politicians were determined to stamp out what they perceived as a threat to the status quo. The mainstream media also railed against the new perceived menace.
Haight-Ashbury, a street corner in
San Francisco, CA, became a for this new movement. Members of this new counter-culture, often referred to as Hippies, walked the streets and hung out at the various "head shops" and coffee shops. Mecca
This new cultural movement had many influential writers and artist involved, including Ken Kesey, who wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He rambled about the West Coast in a Day-Glo bus packed with microphones, amplifying equipment and devotees known as the Merry Pranksters. One commentator had estimated that Kesey may have turned on as many as 10,000 young people to LSD during his 24 month presentation of "the acid test." Poet Allen Ginsberg made a pilgrimage to
Liverpool, home of the Beatles, and found a roaring- seedy- half-Irish working class port, filled with poetry readings, happenings and of course drugs. He declared it to be "the center of the consciousness of the human universe." Ginsberg later wrote Howl, a cutting poem which describes the street scene of and the world of heroin addiction and pot smoking. San Francisco
Dr. Timothy Leary was of the best known of what was referred to as the "acid gurus" of the 1960s. Leary was dismissed from position at Harvard in 1963. After that, he used LSD as both therapy for paying patients and later found his own LSD based religion, the League of Spiritual Discovery (LSD). Like members of the Hippies, he scoffed at using political action and believed young people would do better to spend time "on expanded consciousness." He told Playboy magazine that one of the spiritual goals in his use of LSD was "to make love with God." Much of Leary's rituals were borrowed from Eastern religions. Leary said "the
is your own body - The Orientals teach us that." One of his books borrowed heavily and openly from The Tibetan Book of the Dead…… temple of God
Rock music is an art form that ended up right in the center of the 1960s counter culture. Experiencing the "Haight-Ashbury scene" was a
for many rock musicians. There was even a new category of music called "acid rock." It included such groups as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Electric Prunes and even the Beatles were, at one time, considered part of the "acid rock" movement. Groups such as the Jefferson Airplane often had lyrics with references to drugs. "Saturday Afternoon" was an Airplane song that celebrated the use of LSD. Mecca
Underground papers, such as the Los Angeles Free Press and The Berkeley Barb regularly focused on rock, dope, sex and revolution. Hippies, rock and the drug culture were clearly associated together. Many rock stars, if not most of the big name stars, were using some type of drugs.
Many people consider the Grateful Dead to be the founders of "acid rock." Jerry Garcia, the founder of the band, had met with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and became a part of the "psychedelic revolution," in 1965. In that year, they all started what was then called the "Acid tests." The idea was to give free LSD to people who attend special events, put on by the Pranksters. They were like big parties. Members of the Pranksters would invite anyone they knew of to attend these parties. There would be weird movies, music and light shows. After a few of the these tests, Garcia got the idea to have his band (then called the Warlocks) come and they provided the music. The events become larger as people distributed handbills that said "Can YOU Pass the Acid Test?"  The events were wild, with people taking large amounts of LSD and some people taking their clothes off. LSD was legal when the "Acid tests" began.
In those early days, Garcia associated with musicians, such as Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen (both of whom were key members of the Jefferson Airplane) and with Janice Joplin. By 1966, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother and the Holding Company (
's band) had developed what became known as the San Francisco Sound, conductive to improvisation and to stretching the limits of the art form. All these bands were also associated with the Joplin Haight-Ashbury counter culture.  Yet they played for large music halls, such as the Fillmore and the Avalon. Some newspapers, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, gave extensive coverage to the LSD culture, in much the same way newspapers had once been fascinated by the "old west."
Garcia was asked, by Rolling Stone, "what's psychedelic music?" He said:
"Ohhhhhhh, god dam.... Phil defined it pretty good once. He said ummmmm...Oh, somebody asked him once what acid rock was, which is psychedelic music, OK, whatever, we'll use those two as an equation- and he said "Acid rock is music you listen to when you're high on acid. Psychedelic music is music you listen to when you're psychedelic."
He went on to say that psychedelic music was suppose to be consciousness expanding. He equated acid rock to eastern music, such as Indian and Tibetan.
Marty Balin, of the Jefferson Airplane, recalled his "Acid test" days for High Times magazine:
"I can remember standing in
Central Park, bags of Orange Sunshine (candy drops) in our hands, just throwing them into the crowd. That was before it was illegal."
Orange Sunshine was a name given to certain tablets of LSD. They could also be other colors, such as yellow. Sunshine is mentioned in the Airplane song "Saturday Afternoon."
The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the top two rock bands, involved in drugs
The Beatles were probably the best known and most successful rock group of the entire1960s period. Not far behind them were the Rolling Stones. Both groups are among the biggest names ever in rock history. That's why it is significant that members of both groups were known to have been involved in the drug scene.
By 1969, the Beatles had put out some of their best work ever, including the albums "Rubber Soul" and "Sergeant Pepper." They also released an album called "Magical Mystery Tour," which was not taken well by the critics. Still, these albums presented music that was innovative and like many other groups of the time, seemed slower and somewhat mystical. The covers of "Sergeant Pepper" and "Magical Mystery Tour" were loud and brightly colored, in step with many of the "acid rock" groups, of that time. The images in their lyrics were believed by many people to represent acid trips.
It was in 1965 that a dentist introduced the Beatles to LSD during a dinner party. Shedding some light on the Beatles "acid rock" period, John Lennon told Playboy he took millions of LSD trips in the 1960s. He admitted that he wrote part of the song "I Am the Walrus" after taking LSD. The rest of the song was written with the help of his wife Yoko Ona. Ironically the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was never intended as a drug song at all. Lennon said it was based on a painting his son Julian had made. Much of the imagery from that song came from "
in Wonderland." Lennon denies that he intentionally used words in which the initials spell out LSD. Alice
He admitted that there were several songs that in some way were influenced by the Beatle's use of drugs. Lennon said he and Paul took delighted in using the phraze "turn me on" in the song "She's a Woman." That phrase was often used as a reference for taking drugs such as marijuana.
By 1980 Lennon said he no longer took LSD, although he did take Psilocybin mushrooms and peyote on occasion (maybe twice a year). He suggested some casual use of marijuana as well.
By 1969, several members of the Rolling Stones had been arrested and charged with possession of cannabis including Keith Richard, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones. Jones, who was found dead in 1969, had a reputation for overindulgence. Other Stones members had also developed reputations for using LSD and other drugs.
Jefferson Airplane Live @ Woodstock 1969 Won't You Try _ Saturday Afternoon.mpg
 David Caute, The Year Of The Barricades, (Harper and Row, New York, 1988), p. 55.
 David Caute, The Year Of The Barricades, p. 57.
 David Caute, The Year Of The Barricades, p. 52.
 Steve Otto, War on Drugs/ War on People, pp. 150, 151.
 David Caute, The Year Of The Barricades, p. 57.
 David Caute, The Year Of The Barricades, p. 58.
 David Caute, The Year Of The Barricades, p. 58.
 David Caute, The Year of the Barricades, p. 53.
 Sandy Troy, Captain Trips, A Biography of Jerry Garcia, (Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 1994), pp. 69 - 71.
, Captain Trips, p. 86. Troy
, Captain Trips, p. 94. Troy
, Captain Trips, p. 88. Troy
, Captain Trips, p. 86. Troy
 Charles Reich and Jann Wenner, "The Rolling Stone Interview: Jerry Garcia," Rolling Stone, 3 Febuary 1972, issue no. 101, pp.28- 36.
 "They said it in High Times," High Times, The Best of High Times #14, p. 96.
 Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, The Love You Make, An Insider's Story Of The Beatles, (McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1983) pp. 172 - 174.
 David Sheff, G. Barry Golson, The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, (Playboy Press, New York, 1981) pp. 93, 94.
 Sheff and Golson, p. 156.
 Sheff and Golson, p. 153.
 Sheff and Golson, p.147.
 Sheff and Golson, pp. 93, 94.
 James Karnbach and Carol Bernson, It's Only Rock 'N' Roll, The Ultimate Guide To The Rolling Stones, (Facts On File, Inc.
, 1997) pp. 17 - 22 New York
 Karnbach and Bernson, pp. 16 - 17.