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From Aldous Huxley to the Beatles: how LSD has inspired art

As scientist David Nutt campaigns for drug rules to change, we look at artists who said yes to psychedelic culture

While the neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt and colleagues campaign for rules around psychedelics to change to aid research, such drugs have a long history in creative circles.

  • LSD was important to the Beatles, whose song Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds is thought to be a nod to the drug, with psychedelics referred to in Day Tripper among others. LSD is also thought to have played an important role in the creation of the album Revolver. John Lennon and George Harrison were enthusiastic about taking the drug, whereas it took Paul McCartney some time to begin taking it.
  • In November 1963, as Aldous Huxley lay dying from cancer, he asked his wife, Laura, to give him LSD. The results were recorded in a letter from Laura to Huxley’s brother. “Suddenly he had accepted the fact of death; he had taken this moksha medicine in which he believed. He was doing what he had written in [his utopian novel] Island [which features psychedelic drug use], and I had the feeling that he was interested and relieved and quiet,” she writes.

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