Hey, You've got to hide your drug away

Paul McCartney has given up smoking dope. Simon Usborne charts a career of highs and lows

Simon Usborne
Friday 17 February 2012 01:00

Hold the filters, pack away the rolling paper and stash the hash; Paul McCartney, the Beatle, bottom kisser (see his latest album) and self-confessed pothead, has quit smoking cannabis for the sake of his youngest daughter.

Sir Paul, who'll turn 70 in June, revealed in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine that a "sense of responsibility" had struck in the course of raising Beatrice, 8, who he had with his ex-wife, Heather Mills (a sense he was presumably too stoned to feel while he raised four children during the Seventies and Eighties). Fatherhood came to McCartney not long after marijuana. Bob Dylan introduced the Beatle to the drug in New York in 1964, apparently having been stunned that McCartney did not indulge (two years later, in "Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35", Dylan was unequivocal about its delights of the drug, singing: "Everybody must get stoned").

McCartney soon moved on to harder vices and in an interview in 2004 admitted drugs had "informed" much of his music. "Day Tripper" was "about acid," he said. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was inspired by LSD and "Got to Get You Into My Life" was "about pot – although everyone missed it at the time". There was no suggestion, however, that "Let Me Roll It" was a generous offer to create a super-sized jazz cigarette. But no more. McCartney doesn't reveal how recently he quit but says of his past: "I smoked my share," adding: "When you're bringing up a youngster, your sense of responsibility does kick in, if you're lucky, at some point." And then: "Enough's enough – you just don't seem to think it's necessary."

You were an exceptional musician if you didn't like a puff in the green room or the tour bus when McCartney was at his peak. Alice Cooper was a rare case of a rocker who kept off the grass, becoming addicted to alcohol instead (and, latterly, golf).

John Lennon was a big smoker but perhaps it was McCartney's other habit – getting into trouble – that has motivated his change of heart. He was arrested for cannabis possession in Sweden and in Scotland in 1972. In 1980, spent 10 days in a Japanese jail after customs officials found half a pound of marijuana in his bags, and was arrested again four years later in Barbados after scoring dope on a beach.

He got into trouble, too, with his second wife, Heather Mills, who reportedly offered him an ultimatum: Me or the drugs. McCartney evidently settled for neither.

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