Some Rock Musicians Began Using Psychedelic Drugs to Achieve Increased Levels of

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Some rock musicians began using psychedelic drugs to achieve increased levels of creativity and artistic expression. However, many of them found that the drugs had negative side effects and eventually stopped using them.

Psychedelic Drugs

Psychedelic drugs are a class of drug whose primary action is to trigger psychedelic experiences via serotonin receptor agonism, resulting in changes in perception, mood, and cognitive processes. These drugs are often used recreationally, but they also have been used to treat psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Some well-known psychedelic drugs include LSD, psilocybin, and DMT.


LSD is one of the most potent, mood-changing chemicals. It is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is usually found in tablet form or as a drop that is placed on absorbent material such as sugar cubes, small pieces of blotter paper or gelatin.

Psychedelic drugs alter perception, feelings, and emotions. They can produce visual and auditory hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not there). Psychedelics can distort a person’s sense of time and space, and make them feel disconnected from their body. The effects of psychedelics are strongly influenced by a person’s mood, personality, expectations, surroundings, and the dose of the drug being used.

Psychedelics are non-addictive and do not produce physical dependence. However, people who use them can develop tolerance (needing to take higher doses to achieve the same effect) and psychological dependence (needing to keep taking the drug to avoid becoming emotionally unstable).

LSD is one of the most well-known psychedelics, thanks in part to its popularity in the 1960s counterculture movement. Other popular psychedelics include psilocybin mushrooms (“magic mushrooms”), mescaline (found in peyote cactus), and DMT (dimethyltryptamine).


Psychedelic drugs are chemicals that can alter a person’s mood, emotions, and perceptions. Psilocybin is a type of psychedelic drug that is found in certain types of mushrooms. Some people call these mushrooms “magic” or “shrooms”. Psilocybin can also be made synthetically in a laboratory.

Psychedelic drugs are popular among some people who use them for recreational purposes. Some people believe that these drugs can help them achieve a higher level of consciousness. Others use them to self-medicate mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Psychedelic drugs can have profound and long-lasting effects on a person’s mental health. They can also cause short-term side effects, such as dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Long-term side effects of psychedelic drug use include flashbacks, paranoia, and psychosis.


DMT is a naturally occurring psychedelic drug that is found in many plants and animals. It is also known as the “spirit molecule” because it is thought to be responsible for the spiritual experiences that some people have during an ayahuasca ceremony. DMT is not typically considered to be a recreational drug, but rather one that is used for its spiritual and therapeutic benefits.

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The group, whose best-known line-up comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, are regarded as the most influential band of all time. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, they later utilised several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways.

John Lennon

John Lennon was an English rock musician who gained worldwide fame as a member of the Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music. His songwriting partnership with bandmate Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated in music history. After the group disbanded in 1970, he pursued a solo career and also started a family with wife Yoko Ono. He was murdered by an obsessed fan in 1980.

George Harrison

George Harrison was an English rock musician who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. He also collaborated with other members of the band on their songs, most notably on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Harrison pursued a solo career and released several successful albums, including “All Things Must Pass” and “Living in the Material World.” He also found success as a film producer with his company, HandMade Films. In later years, Harrison became a devotee of Hinduism and helped popularize Indian music in the West through his recordings with Ravi Shankar. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Beatles in 1988.

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr was the drummer for the Beatles and one of the group’s most popular members. He began experimenting with psychedelic drugs in the mid-1960s, and his use of them increased as the Beatles became more famous. Starr frequently took LSD, and he also used other psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms and mescaline. These drugs had a profound effect on his creative process, and he credited them with helping him to become a better musician.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band that formed in London in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). Wyman and Watts remained as the band’s sole constant members throughout its history. Jones was the original leader of the group.

Keith Richards

One of the most influential guitarists of all time, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones began using psychedelic drugs in the 1960s to achieve higher levels of creativity and consciousness. He is credited with helping to popularize the use of LSD and other psychedelics among young people during this time. Richards has said that his use of LSD was “an attempt to go beyond where [he] was creatively” and that it “opened [his] mind up”. He has also stated that his drug use was a way to rebel against the “straight” world and that it helped him to feel more connected to others.

Brian Jones

Brian Jones (28 February 1942 – 3 July 1969) was an English musician, the founder and original leader of the Rolling Stones. Although he was originally the group’s slide guitarist, he developed a wide range of other instruments during his career, including rhythm guitar, bass guitar, dulcimer, sitar, mandolin, marimba, oboe, koto, recorder, lap steel guitar and drums. His innovative use of multi-instrumentation and classic blues influences created a unique sound that distinguished the band from its contemporaries. He was also one of the first Westerners to experiment with Pagode music from Brazil as well as being one of the pioneers in bringing Raga Rock to Western audiences.

In addition to his musical accomplishments, Jones is also remembered for his doomed love affair with Anita Pallenberg and his role in the death of fellow Stones member Mick Jagger’s friend Marianne Faithfull. Due to health problems that arose from his excessive drug and alcohol use as well as his erratic behavior, Jones’s contribution to the Rolling Stones’ studio recordings became less consistent towards the end of the 1960s. He increasingly struggled with depression and in 1968 began displaying increasingly erratic behavior which led Jagger to ask him to leave the band shortly before his death in 1969.

Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger, born in Dartford, Kent, England, on July 26, 1943, is the lead vocalist of the Rolling Stones. He produced satisfied results as a student and was a natural leader with an outgoing personality. His father, Basil Fanshawe “Joe” Jagger (1913–2006), was a teacher and registration clerk; his mother, Eva Ensley Mary (neé Scutts; 1916–2000), was a hairdresser and an active member of the Methodist church. Eva reportedly believed that Mick should have gone into the ministry. When Jagger was four years old, his father gave him a guitar; soon thereafter he took piano lessons and began to play in public at local youth clubs. He learned Blues and rhythm and blues from records by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed ,and Elmore James.

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. The band’s primary songwriters were Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Phil Lesh. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which combined elements of folk, blues, country, jazz, and rock. The band was also known for its live performances, which often included extended improvisation.

Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia (born Jerome John Garcia on August 1, 1942) was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, best known for his work with the band the Grateful Dead. Though he disavowed the role, Garcia was seen by many as the leader or “spokesman” of the group. One of its founders, Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead for their entire thirty-year career (1965–1995). While Garcia was not a writer or composer in the traditional sense, many of the band’s best-known songs originated in his improvisations during live performances. These include “Dark Star”, “Franklin’s Tower”, “Playing in the Band”, and “Terrapin Station”. He also contributed to a number of singles including: “Sugaree” (a song he wrote), “Friend of the Devil” (co-written by Robert Hunter and John Dawson), “Casey Jones” (co-written by Robert Hunter) and “Touch of Grey” (written by Robert Hunter).

Garcia founded several side bands including: The Jerry Garcia Band featuring R&B/soul/gospel singer Tina Louise; Legion of Mary featuring Martin Fierro on horns and Merl Saunders on keyboards; Old & In The Way featuring David Grisman on mandolin; Reconstruction featuring Tony Rice on guitar; The Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band featuring Sandy Bull on electric sitar and David Nelson on guitar; The Jerry Garcia Latin Holiday Band featuring Maria Muldaur singing Afro-Cuban music; The psychedelic rock band New Riders of the Purple Sage which featured David Nelson from country rock pioneers Country Joe & The Fish; and finally exasperated Deadheads were treated to classic rock covers performed as part of Bob Weir’s Ratdog.

Bob Weir

Bob Weir (rhythm guitar, vocals) was one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead. Born in San Francisco in 1947, he began playing guitar at age 13. He met Jerry Garcia in 1964 and soon after, they formed the Warlocks, which evolved into the Grateful Dead.

Weir played an important role in shaping the band’s sound and songwriting. He wrote or co-wrote many of the Dead’s most popular songs, including “Sugar Magnolia,” “Cassidy,” and “Truckin’.” His distinctive guitar style was an important part of the band’s sound; while Garcia was often seen as the lead guitarist, Weir was considered by many to be his equal.

Weir is also known for his close friendship with Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, another founding member of the Dead who died in 1973. The two were often referred to as the “weirdest” members of the band due to their affinity for drugs and weird behavior on stage.

Phil Lesh

Phil Lesh is a musician best known for his work with the Grateful Dead. A founding member of the band, he played bass guitar and helped contribute to their unique sound. After the band’s dissolution in 1995, Lesh continued to perform with various iterations of the Grateful Dead, as well as pursuing solo projects.

Lesh was an early adopter of psychedelic drugs, and his use of them had a profound impact on his music. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he recalled how LSD expanded his consciousness and helped him to see music in a new way. “All of sudden, I was able to hear things that I couldn’t hear before,” he said. “I could hear the separate instruments within a piece of music and understand how they were all working together.”

This increased level of understanding allowed Lesh to take greater creative risks with his playing, and he became known for his innovative bass lines. He was also able to use his expanded consciousness to channel the energy of the audience into his performance, creating a more transformative experience for both himself and the fans.

Lesh’s commitment to psychedelic exploration also led him to become an advocate for drug law reform. He has spoken out against draconian drug laws that criminalize exploration and artist creativity. For Lesh, psychedelic drugs are not just about getting high – they are integral to the creative process.

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