Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Hey Jude" Lyrics

by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Original Manuscript (1968)

Hey Jude don't make it bad
take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude don't be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
the minute you let her under your skin
Then you'll begin to make it better

And any time you feel the pain
Hey Jude refrain don't carry the world upon your shoulders

For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
by making his (life/world) a little colder

Hey Jude, don't let me down
She has found you now make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in, Hey Jude begin
you're waiting for someone to perform with
+ don't you know that it's just you

Second Manuscript (1968)

HEY JUDE don't make it bad,
take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude don't be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin,
Then you begin to make it better.

And any time you feel the pain,
Hey Jude refrain, don't carry the world upon your shoulder
For well you know that it's a fool who plays
it cool by making his world a little colder

Hey Jude don't let me down,
Admit your feelings and don't forget her

So let it out + let it in,
Hey Jude begin, bow down to the plasticine banana

As Released by the Beatles (1968)

Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better.

Hey Jude, don't be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better.

And any time you feel the pain
Hey Jude, refrain
Don't carry the world upon your shoulder.
For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder.

Nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah.

Hey Jude, don't let me down
You have found her, now go and get her (let it out and let it in)
Remember (hey Jude) to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better.

So let it out and let it in
Hey Jude, begin
You're waiting for someone to perform with.
And don't you know that it's just you
Hey Jude, you'll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder.

Nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, yeah.

Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin (oh)
Then you'll begin ((let it out)) to make it better

Better, better, better, better ((make it Jude)), better.

Oh yeah - nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah
((yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah))
(Take it Jude) nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah (ow)
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah (take it Jude)
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude
Jude, Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy.
(Ow - ow) nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah,
(Ow - ooo nah nah nah) nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude
(Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude).
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
(Well you know you can make it, Jude, you've just gotta break it.)
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah ((don't make it bad, Jude))
(Take a sad song and make it better)
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude (Jude, hey Jude, wah!).
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah (oh Jude)
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude (hey hey hey hey hey hey hey).
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
(Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude - yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
(Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah...)
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude (yeah).
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah ((hey hey hey hey))
(Take it Jude) nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
((Yeah - yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah - yeah yeah -
yeah yeah yeah - ha ha ha ha ha))
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude (Jude, Jude ma ma ma ma ma ma)
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah (oh)
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude (ooo).
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah (oh)
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude (ooo - ooo).
Well then nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah
Nah - nah - nah - nah, hey Jude.
Nah nah nah, nah - nah - nah - nah.

March 1, 1975 - The 17th Annual Grammy Awards

Taped: Saturday 1 March 1975
Aired: Saturday 1 March 1975

At the annual Grammy Awards show, televised live from New York, John Lennon puts in a guest appearance as an award presenter. He is seen with Paul Simon and Andy Williams presenting the award for 'Records Of The Year - Artist & Producer'. The three singers, standing at the podium, before the presentation, partake in a cleverly scripted comedy routine, which pokes fun at their three respective former partners.

Year One

By Ritchie Yorke/June 28, 1970

TORONTO. Snow was starting to fall in splashing flakes on the windows. Ronnie Hawkins yawned. Yoko Ono cuddled closer to John Lennon, took a drag on his Gitane cigarette and closed her eyes. The whole household was drowsily relaxing in the rambling old farmhouse on the outskirts of Toronto that Ronnie Hawkins and his wife, Wanda, owned.

Ed Sullivan's vacuous visage bounced onto the screen as Wanda came into the room and exclaimed: "Look, it's the Beatles on TV." John and Yoko came to life and Hawkins reached out to turn on the volume. Lennon leaped out of the sofa and knelt a few inches from the screen.

The long shot cut to a close-up of Paul McCartney singing "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed . . ." Lennon laughed, "Boy, was he shitting then."
Then a rerun of the group's first-ever appearance on the Sullivan show. Up came Lennon, short-haired and obviously nervous, strumming his axe and screaming into the mike. John had returned to the sofa and Yoko was laughing.

"Is that really my husband?" she teased. John shrugged.

Shea Stadium: John, leading the rest of the Beatles through the police guard and the cutaway shots of the crying, craving teenyboppers. "Yes, yes, yes," John bubbled. "I remember every moment of that. It was incredible."

A few minutes later, Sullivan was replaced by a Canadian network's public-affairs show, "W5," and Lennon was back on the screen. He was talking about peace and a massive pop-music festival for peace to be held in Canada next summer. His words were clear and full of conviction. The interviewer wanted to know if the rest of the Beatles would be there performing. "Yes, yes," he said impatiently. "I'm going to ask each of them. I can't say now that they'll play but I think they will."

John and Yoko's arrival in Toronto for the third time in less than a year was preceded by a large "War Is Over" campaign that had been simultaneously unveiled in twelve cities the previous morning. In Toronto, thirty roadside billboards went up, along with thousands of posters and handbills. Capitol Records of Canada took out newspaper ads with the same message.

The first press conference took place at the Ontario Science Centre.

"Well," announced John, "we've come back to Canada to announce plans for a big peace-and-music festival to be held at Mosport Park near Toronto on July third, fourth and fifth next year. We aim to make it the biggest music festival in history, and we're going to be asking everybody who's anybody to play.

"The whole idea of our new peace campaign is to be positive. You can't expect anybody to do anything for nothing. You must run things the way the Establishment does. The idea came from the Toronto people. They wanted to produce the biggest pop festival in history by the usual means, and then give a percentage of the gross to a new peace fund, which we're setting up. But it won't be the usual fund thing, and that's what we liked about the idea.

"We are forming a peace council that will administer the fund as it sees fit. If we decide, for example, that we want to give food to starving children in Biafra, we won't use traditional means. We'll hire planes and take the stuff there ourselves. We're doing away with all the old methods because they haven't worked very well from what we can see."

John spoke slowly, distinctly, choosing his words with evident care. Yoko, looking nervous, chewed a great wad of gum and, for the most part, only listened, smiling at John continually.

"One of our friends here in Toronto has come up with the idea that the new year should not be called 1970 A.D. Everyone who is into peace and awareness will regard the New Year as Year One A.P. - for After Peace. All of our letters and calendars from now on will use this new method.

"Along with the festival, we are going to have an International Peace Vote. We're asking everyone to vote for either peace or war and to send in a coupon with their name and address. This is going to be done worldwide, through music papers initially and, when we've got about twenty million votes, we're going to give them to the United States. It's just another positive step."

Why Canada and not the U.S.? According to John Brower, one of the team working with the Lennons on the festival and allied projects, Lennon feels that Canada has become the world's greatest hope for peace. "The political climate in Canada is completely different from any other country. The politicians here at least want to hear what young people think. They'll talk, and that is the important first step."

Friday, August 14, 2009

"I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" Lyrics

by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

As Released by the Beatles (1964)

I don't wanna spoil the party so I'll go
I would hate my disappointment to show
There's nothing for me here so I will disappear
If she turns up while I'm gone please let me know.

I've had a drink or two and I don't care
There's no fun in what I do when she's not there
I wonder what went wrong I've waited far too long
I think I'll take a walk and look for her.

Though tonight she's made me sad
I still love her.
If I find her I'll be glad
I still love her.

I don't wanna spoil the party so I'll go
I would hate my disappointment to show
There's nothing for me here so I will disappear
If she turns up while I'm gone please let me know.

Hey! - wuh!

Though tonight she's made me sad
I still love her.
If I find her I'll be glad
I still love her.

Though I've had a drink or two and I don't care
There's no fun in what I do if she's not there
I wonder what went wrong I've waited far too long
But I think I'll take a walk and look for her.

"Hound Dog"

"Hound Dog" is a twelve-bar blues written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952. Other early versions illustrate the differences among blues, country, and rock and roll in the mid 1950s. The 1956 remake by Elvis Presley is the best known version. This is the version that is #19 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. "Hound Dog" was also recorded by 5 country singers in 1953 alone, and over 26 times through 1964. From the 1970s onward, the song has appeared, or is heard, as a part of the soundtrack in numerous motion pictures, most notably in blockbusters such as American Graffiti, Grease, Forrest Gump, Lilo and Stitch, A Few Good Men and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The Beatles performed the song live from 1957 to 1961.

Big Mama Thornton version

The blues singer Big Mama Thornton's biggest hit was Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's "Hound Dog," which she recorded in 1952. Thornton’s "Hound Dog" was the first record Leiber and Stoller produced themselves. They took over the session because their work had sometimes been misrepresented, and on this one they knew how they wanted the drums to sound; Johnny Otis was supposed to produce it, but they wanted him on drums. Otis received a writing credit on all 6 of the 1953 pressings. This 1953 Peacock Records release (#1612) was number one on the Billboard rhythm and blues charts for seven weeks.

Thornton gave this account of how the original was created to Ralph Gleason. “They were just a couple of kids, and they had this song written on the back of a paper bag.” She added a few interjections of her own, played around with the rhythm (some of the choruses have thirteen rather than twelve bars), and had the band bark and howl like hound dogs at the end of the song. In fact, she interacts constantly in a call and response fashion during a one minute long guitar "solo" by Pete Lewis . Her vocals include lines such as: "Aw, listen to that ole hound dog howl.. OOOOoooow", "Now wag your tail", Aw, get it, get it, get it". Thornton's version is a slow, powerful, country blues.

The other musicians on this recording are Devonia Williams (piano), Albert Winston (bass), and Leard Bell (drums), and are listed as "Kansas City Bill & Orchestra."

1953 Country versions

Peacock released Thornton's version in March 1953. Five versions of the song were recorded on several different labels by "country" groups the very next month (April 1953):
  • Billy Starr
  • Tommy Duncan
  • Eddie Hazelwood
  • Jack Turner
  • Cleve Jackson
Bernie Lowe, Freddie Bell and the Bellboys

Bernie Lowe suspected that "Hound Dog" could potentially have greater appeal, and asked Freddie Bell of Freddie Bell and the Bellboys to rewrite the lyrics to appeal to a broader radio audience. "Snoopin' round my door" was replaced with "cryin' all the time," and "You can wag your tail, but I ain't gonna feed you no more" was replaced by "You ain't never caught a rabbit, and you ain't no friend of mine." This new version of "Hound Dog" was recorded on Lowe's Teen Records in 1955 (TEEN 101 with "Move Me Baby" on the flip side, two of four songs the group did with Lowe that year). The regional popularity of this release, along with the group's showmanship, yielded both a tour, and an engagement in the Las Vegas Sands Hotel's Silver Queen Bar.

Elvis Presley's first, apparently not very successful, appearance in Las Vegas, as an “extra added attraction,” was in the Venus Room of the New Frontier from April 23 through May 6, 1956. Freddie Bell and the Bellboys were the hot act in town, and Elvis went to the Sands to take in their show. Elvis not only enjoyed the show, but also loved their reworking of "Hound Dog" and asked Freddie if he had any objections to him recording his own version. By May 16 Elvis had added “Hound Dog” to his live performances.

Drummer D.J. Fontana put it this way. "We took that from a band we saw in Vegas, Freddie Bell and the Bellboys. They were doing the song kinda like that. We went out there every night to watch them. He'd say: 'Let's go watch that band. It's a good band!' That's where he heard 'Hound Dog,' and shortly thereafter he said: 'Let's try that song.'"

Presley first performed "Hound Dog" to a nationwide television audience on The Milton Berle Show on June 5, 1956, his second appearance with Berle. By this time Scotty Moore had added a guitar solo, and DJ Fontana had added a hot drum roll between verses of the song. Presley appeared for the first time on national television sans guitar. Before his death, Berle told an interviewer that he had told Elvis to leave his guitar backstage. "Let 'em see you, son," advised Uncle Miltie.

An upbeat version ended abruptly as Presley threw his arm back. Then began to vamp at half tempo, "You ain't-a nuthin' but a hound dog, cuh-crying all the time." "You ain't never caught a rabbit..." A final wave signaled the band to stop. Elvis pointed threateningly at the audience, and belted out, "You ain't no friend of mine." Presley's movements during the performance were energetic and exaggerated. The reactions of young women in the studio audience were enthusiastic, as shown on the broadcast.

Over 40,000,000 people saw the performance and the next day controversy exploded. Berle's network received many letters of protest. The various self appointed guardians of public morality attacked Elvis in the press. TV critics began a merciless campaign against Elvis making statements that; Elvis "is a no talent performer," he had a "caterwauling voice and nonsense lyrics," he was an "influence on juvenile delinquency," and began using the nickname "Elvis the Pelvis."

Elvis next appeared on national television singing "Hound Dog" on the July 1 Steve Allen Show. Steve Allen wrote: "When I booked Elvis, I naturally had no interest in just presenting him vaudeville-style and letting him do his spot as he might in concert. Instead we worked him into the comedy fabric of our program...We certainly didn't inhibit Elvis' then-notorious pelvic gyrations, but I think the fact that he had on formal evening attire made him, purely on his own, slightly alter his presentation." As Allen was notoriously contemptuous of rock 'n' roll music and songs such as "Hound Dog," he smirkingly presented Elvis "with a roll that looks exactly like a large roll of toilet paper with, says Allen, the 'signatures of eight thousand fans'" and the singer had to wear a tuxedo while singing an abbreviated version of Hound Dog to an actual top hat-wearing basset hound. Elvis and the members of his band were all angry about their treatment that night.

The morning after the Steve Allen Show performance, the studio version was recorded for RCA Victor by Elvis' regular band of Scotty Moore on lead guitar (with Elvis usually providing rhythm guitar), Bill Black on bass, D.J. Fontana on drums and backing vocals from the Jordanaires. Presley recorded this version along with "Don't Be Cruel" and "Any Way You Want Me" on July 2, 1956 at RCA's New York City studio. The producing credit was given to RCA's Steve Sholes, however the studio recordings reveal that Elvis produced the songs (as well as most of the RCA recording sessions) himself, which is verified by the band members. Presley insisted on getting the song exactly the way he wanted it, recording 30 takes of the song before finally settling on take number 28.

"Don't Be Cruel" (G2WW-5936) was the flip side of the "Hound Dog" single (G2WW-5935), released on July 13, 1956. Both sides of the record topped the charts independently, a rare feat. The single also topped all three extant Billboard charts: pop, country & western, and rhythm & blues, the first record in history to do so.

On September 9, with the song topping the US charts, Presley performed an abbreviated version of "Hound Dog" on the Ed Sullivan Show hosted by Charles Laughton. After performing "Ready Teddy," he introduced the song with the following statement, “Friends, as a great philosopher once said...” Elvis's first time on the Sullivan show was an event that drew some 60 million TV viewers. During his second Sullivan Show appearance, October 28, he introduced the song thusly (although unable to keep a straight face). “Ladies and gentlemen, could I have your attention please. Ah, I’d like to tell you we’re going to do a sad song for you. This song here is one of the saddest songs we’ve ever heard. It really tells a story friends. Beautiful lyrics. It goes something like this.” He then launched into a full version of the song. Elvis was shown in full during this performance. Again, Presley drew more than 60 million viewers.

Presley's "Hound Dog" sold over 4 million copies in the United States on its first release. It was his best selling single and starting in July 1956, it spent a record eleven weeks at #1. It stayed in the #1 spot until it was replaced by "Love Me Tender," also recorded by Elvis.

In March 2005, Q Magazine placed Presley's version at number 55 in its list of the Q Magazine's 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #19 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time - the highest ranked of Presley's eleven entries.

Subsequent versions of "Hound Dog"

A partial list of cover versions of "Hound Dog" includes:

* Freddie Bell & his Bell Boys. Re-recorded for Mercury 1956 and released 1957 on the album "Rock 'n' Roll All Flavors"
* John Entwistle (bassist of The Who) - from his 1973 rock 'n 'roll album Rigor Mortis Sets In
* Jimi Hendrix - from BBC Sessions (The Jimi Hendrix Experience album)
* Jimi Hendrix & Little Richard - from the '72 'duet' album Friends From The Beginning.
* The Everly Brothers - from their Rock 'n Soul album.
* Jerry Lee Lewis
* John Lennon - from one of his last charity concerts in New York, 1972.
* Royal Artillery Alanbrooke Band
* Billy "Crash" Craddock - recorded on his album Live! 1977
* Johnny Burnette Trio
* Recorded live by the Rolling Stones in Memphis, Tennessee on June 28, 1978
* Robert Palmer - recorded the original lyric version for his 2003 Blues album Drive
* Tales of Terror (band) - recorded for his EP in 1984
* Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps Live from a Alan Freed radio show in July, 1956.
* Eric Clapton on his album Journeyman
* Bernie Marsden, Ian Paice, Neil Murray and Don Airey during an Ian Paice and Friends concert.
* Jeff Beck & Jed Leiber, an instrumental version appeared on the audio album Honeymoon in Vegas - Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1992)
* James Taylor on his Covers album in 2008.

Single by Big Mama Thornton
B-side: "Nightmare"
Released: March 1953
Format: 78 RPM 10" single
Recorded: August 13, 1952, Los Angeles
Genre: Rhythm and Blues
Length: 2:52
Label: Peacock Records
Writers: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Producer: Johnny Otis

Single by Elvis Presley
A-side: "Don't Be Cruel"
Released: July 13, 1956
Format: single
Recorded: July 2, 1956, New York
Genre: Rock and roll
Length: 2:15
Label: RCA Records
Writers: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Producer: Steve Sholes (Elvis Presley)

The Beatles - The Cavern Club Rehearsals

Label: The Early Years, 02-CD-3333
Year: 1990

Afternoon rehearsal, Cavern Club, circa September 1962:
1. I Saw Her Standing There (2:50)
2. One After 909 (version 1 - 2:42)
3. One After 909 (version 2 - 2:40)
4. Catswalk (version 1 -1:35)
5. Catswalk (version 2 - 1:20)
Liverpool Empire, December 22, 1963:
6. From Me To You (1:12)
7. I Saw Her Standing There (2:35)
8. All My Loving (2:06)
9. Roll Over Beethoven (2:14)
10. Boys (2:03)
11. Till There Was You (2:10)
12. She Loves You (2:16)
13. This Boy (2:13)
14. I Want To Hold Your Hand (2:19)
15. Money (2:43)
16. Twist and Shout (2:16)

Beatle People: Allen Ginsberg

Irwin Allen Ginsberg (pronounced /ˈɡɪnzbərɡ/; June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet. Ginsberg is best known for the poem "Howl" (1956), celebrating his friends who were members of the Beat Generation and attacking what he saw as the destructive forces of materialism and conformity in the United States.

Early life and family

Ginsberg was born into a Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Paterson. His father Louis Ginsberg was a poet and a high school teacher. Ginsberg's mother, Naomi Livergant Ginsberg (who was affected by a rare psychological illness which was never properly diagnosed) was an active member of the Communist Party and often took Ginsberg and his brother Eugene to party meetings. Ginsberg later said that his mother "made up bedtime stories that all went something like: 'The good king rode forth from his castle, saw the suffering workers and healed them.'"

As a young teenager, Ginsberg began to write letters to The New York Times about political issues such as World War II and workers' rights. When he was in junior high school, he accompanied his mother by bus to her therapist. The trip disturbed Ginsberg — he mentioned it and other moments from his childhood in his long autobiographical poem "Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg (1894-1956)." While in high school, Ginsberg began reading Walt Whitman; he said he was inspired by his teacher's passion in reading.

In 1943, Ginsberg graduated from Eastside High School and briefly attended Montclair State College before entering Columbia University on a scholarship from the Young Men's Hebrew Association of Paterson. In 1945, he joined the Merchant Marine to earn money to continue his education at Columbia. While at Columbia, Ginsberg contributed to the Columbia Review literary journal, the Jester humor magazine, won the Woodberry Poetry Prize and served as president of the Philolexian Society, the campus literary and debate group.

Ginsberg worked for a while as a clerk in the Gotham Book Mart, a renowned bookstore and literary hotspot, where he undoubtedly came in contact with many renowned authors and poets.

New York Beats

In Ginsberg's freshman year at Columbia he met fellow undergraduate Lucien Carr, who introduced him to a number of future Beat writers including Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and John Clellon Holmes. They bonded because they saw in one another excitement about the potential of the youth of America, a potential which existed outside the strict conformist confines of post-World War II McCarthy-era America. Ginsberg and Carr talked excitedly about a "New Vision" (a phrase adapted from Arthur Rimbaud) for literature and America. Carr also introduced Ginsberg to Neal Cassady, for whom Ginsberg had a long infatuation. Kerouac later described the meeting between Ginsberg and Cassady in the first chapter of his 1957 novel On the Road. Kerouac saw them then as the dark (Ginsberg) and light (Cassady) side of their "New Vision." Kerouac's perception had to do partly with Ginsberg's association with Communism (though Ginsberg himself was never a Communist); Kerouac called Ginsberg "Carlo Marx" in On the Road. This was a source of strain in their relationship since Kerouac grew increasingly distrustful of Communism.

In 1948 in an apartment in Harlem, Ginsberg had an auditory hallucination of William Blake reading his poems "Ah, Sunflower", "The Sick Rose", and "Little Girl Lost" (later referred to as his "Blake vision"). Ginsberg was reading these poems at the time, and he said he was very familiar with them; at one point he claimed he heard them being read by what sounded like the voice of God but what he interpreted as the voice of Blake. He had at that moment pivotal revelations that defined his understanding of the universe. He believed that he witnessed then the interconnectedness of the universe. He looked at lattice work on the fire escape and realized some hand had crafted that; he then looked at the sky and intuited that some hand had crafted that also, or rather that the sky was the hand that crafted itself. He explained that this hallucination was not inspired by drug use, but said he sought to recapture that feeling later with various drugs.

Also in New York, Ginsberg met Gregory Corso in the Pony Stable Bar, one of New York's first openly lesbian bars. Corso, recently released from prison, was supported by the Pony Stable patrons and was writing poetry there the night of their meeting. Ginsberg claims he was immediately attracted to Corso, who was straight but understanding of homosexuality after three years in prison. Ginsberg was even more struck by reading Corso's poems, realizing Corso was "spiritually gifted." Ginsberg introduced Corso to the rest of his inner circle. In their first meeting at the Pony Stable, Corso showed Ginsberg a poem about a woman who lived across the street from him, and sunbathed naked in the window. Amazingly, the woman happened to be Ginsberg's former girlfriend from one of his forays into heterosexuality. Ginsberg and Corso remained life-long friends and collaborators.

It was also during this period that Ginsberg was romantically involved with Elise Cowen.

San Francisco Renaissance

In 1954 in San Francisco, Ginsberg met Peter Orlovsky, with whom he fell in love and who remained his life-long partner.

Also in San Francisco Ginsberg met members of the San Francisco Renaissance and other poets who would later be associated with the Beat Generation in a broader sense. Ginsberg's mentor William Carlos Williams wrote an introductory letter to San Francisco Renaissance figurehead Kenneth Rexroth, who then introduced Ginsberg into the San Francisco poetry scene. There, Ginsberg also met three budding poets and Zen enthusiasts who were friends at Reed College: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Lew Welch. In 1959, along with poets John Kelly, Bob Kaufman, A. D. Winans, and William Margolis, Ginsberg was one of the founders of the Beatitude poetry magazine.

Wally Hedrick — a painter and co-founder of the Six Gallery — approached Ginsberg in the summer of 1955 and asked him to organize a poetry reading at the Six Gallery. At first, Ginsberg refused, but once he’d written a rough draft of "Howl", he changed his "fucking mind," as he put it. Ginsberg advertised the event as "Six Poets at the Six Gallery." One of the most important events in Beat mythos, known simply as "The Six Gallery reading" took place on October 7, 1955. The event, in essence, brought together the East and West Coast factions of the Beat Generation. Of more personal significance to Ginsberg: that night was the first public reading of "Howl", a poem that brought worldwide fame to Ginsberg and to many of the poets associated with him. An account of that night can be found in Kerouac's novel The Dharma Bums, describing how change was collected from audience members to buy jugs of wine, and Ginsberg reading passionately, drunken, with arms outstretched. A taped recording of the reading of "Howl" that Ginsberg gave at Reed College has recently been rediscovered and appeared on their multimedia website from 9am PST 15 February 2008.

Ginsberg's principal work, "Howl", is well-known for its opening line: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked...." "Howl" was considered scandalous at the time of its publication, because of the rawness of its language, which is frequently explicit. Shortly after its 1956 publication by San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore, it was banned for obscenity. The ban became a cause célèbre among defenders of the First Amendment, and was later lifted after Judge Clayton W. Horn declared the poem to possess redeeming artistic value.

Biographical references in "Howl"

Ginsberg claimed at one point that all of his work was an extended biography (like Kerouac's Duluoz Legend). "Howl" is not only a biography of Ginsberg's experiences before 1955 but also a history of the Beat Generation. Ginsberg also later claimed that at the core of "Howl" were his unresolved emotions about his schizophrenic mother. Though "Kaddish" deals more explicitly with his mother (so explicitly that a line-by-line analysis would be simultaneously overly-exhaustive and relatively unrevealing), "Howl" in many ways is driven by the same emotions. Though references in most of his poetry reveal much about his biography, his relationship to other members of the Beat Generation, and his own political views, "Howl", his most famous poem, is still perhaps the best place to start.

To Paris and the "Beat Hotel"

In 1957, Ginsberg surprised the literary world by abandoning San Francisco. After a spell in Morocco, he and Peter Orlovsky joined Gregory Corso in Paris. Corso introduced them to a shabby lodging house above a bar at 9 rue Gît-le-Coeur that was to become known as the Beat Hotel. They were soon joined by William Burroughs and others. It was a productive, creative time for all of them. There, Ginsberg finished his epic poem "Kaddish", Corso composed "Bomb" and "Marriage", and Burroughs (with help from Ginsberg and Corso) put together Naked Lunch, from previous writings. This period was documented by the photographer Harold Chapman, who moved in at about the same time, and took pictures constantly of the residents of the "hotel" until it closed in 1963.

England and the International Poetry Incarnation

In May, 1965, Allen Ginsberg arrived at Better Books, London, and offered to read anywhere for free.

Shortly after his arrival, he gave a reading at Better Books, which was described by Jeff Nuttall as "the first healing wind on a very parched collective mind." Tom McGrath wrote "This could well turn out to have been a very significant moment in the history of England - or at least in the history of English Poetry."

Shortly after the reading at Better Books, plans were hatched for the International Poetry Incarnation, which was to be held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 11, 1965.

The event attracted an audience of 7,000 people to readings and live and tape performances by a wide variety of figures, including Allen Ginsberg, Adrian Mitchell, Alexander Trocchi, Harry Fainlight, Anselm Hollo, Christopher Logue, George Macbeth, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael Horovitz, Simon Vinkenoog, Spike Hawkins, Tom McGrath and William Burroughs.

Peter Whitehead documented the event on film and released it as Wholly Communion.

Continuing literary activity

Though "Beat" is most accurately applied to Ginsberg and his closest friends (Corso, Orlovsky, Kerouac, Burroughs, etc.), the term "Beat Generation" has become associated with many of the other poets Ginsberg met and became friends with in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A key feature of this term seems to be a friendship with Ginsberg. Friendship with Kerouac or Burroughs might also apply, but both writers later strove to disassociate themselves from the name "Beat Generation." Part of their dissatisfaction with the term came from the mistaken identification of Ginsberg as the leader. Ginsberg never claimed to be the leader of a movement. He did, however, claim that many of the writers with whom he had become friends in this period shared many of the same intentions and themes. Some of these friends include: Bob Kaufman; LeRoi Jones before he became Amiri Baraka, who, after reading "Howl", wrote a letter to Ginsberg on a sheet of toilet paper; Diane DiPrima; Jim Cohn; poets associated with the Black Mountain College such as Robert Creeley and Denise Levertov; poets associated with the New York School such as Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch.

Later in his life, Ginsberg formed a bridge between the beat movement of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s, befriending, among others, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, and Bob Dylan. Ginsberg gave his last ever reading at Booksmith, a bookstore located in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, a few months before his death.

Buddhism and Krishnaism

Ginsberg's spiritual journey began early on with his spontaneous visions, and continued with an early trip to India and a chance encounter on a New York City street with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (they both tried to catch the same cab), a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master of the Vajrayana school, who became his friend and life-long teacher. Ginsberg helped Trungpa (and New York poet Anne Waldman) in founding the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Ginsberg was also involved with Krishnaism. He befriended A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement in the Western world, a relationship that is documented by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami in his biographical account Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta. Ginsberg donated money, materials, and his reputation to help the Swami establish the first temple, and toured with him to promote his cause.

Music and chanting were both important parts of Ginsberg's live delivery during poetry readings. He often accompanied himself on a harmonium, and was often accompanied by a guitarist. When Ginsberg asked if he could sing a song in praise of Lord Krishna on William F. Buckley, Jr.'s TV show Firing Line on September 3, 1968, Buckley acceded and the poet chanted slowly as he played dolefully on a harmonium. According to Richard Brookhiser, an associate of Buckley's, the host commented that it was "the most unharried Krishna I've ever heard."

Attendance to his poetry readings was generally standing room only for most of his career, no matter where in the world he appeared. Ginsberg came in touch with the Hungryalist poets of Bengal, especially Malay Roy Choudhury, who introduced Ginsberg to the three fishes with one head of Indian emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar. The three fishes symbolised coexistence of all thought, philosophy and religion.


Ginsberg won the National Book Award for his book The Fall of America. In 1993, the French Minister of Culture awarded him the medal of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (the Order of Arts and Letters).

With the exception of a special guest reading at the NYU Poetry Slam on February 20, 1997, Ginsberg gave what is thought to be his last reading at The Booksmith in San Francisco December 16, 1996. He died April 5, 1997, surrounded by family and friends in his East Village loft in New York City, succumbing to liver cancer via complications of hepatitis. He was 70 years old. Ginsberg continued to write through his final illness, with his last poem, "Things I'll Not Do (Nostalgias)," written on March 30.

Ginsberg is buried in his family plot in Gomel Chesed Cemetery, one of a cluster of Jewish cemeteries at the corner of McClellan Street and Mt. Olivet Avenue near the city lines of Elizabeth and Newark, New Jersey. The family plot, located toward the western edge of the cemetery at the far end of the walk from the third gate along Mt. Olivet Avenue, is marked by a large Ginsberg and Litzky stone, and Ginsberg himself and each family member have smaller markers. The grave itself and the cemetery are neither picturesque nor otherwise notable (Ginsberg's grave is located near the rear fence of the flat cemetery, which is in the midst of an industrial area); although it has not become a major place of pilgrimage, there is a steady trickle of visitors to the grave, as indicated by a handful of stones always on his marker and the occasional book or other item left by other poets and admirers].

Free Speech

Ginsberg's willingness to talk about taboo subjects made him a controversial figure during the conservative 1950s and a significant figure in the 1960s. But Ginsberg continued to broach controversial subjects throughout the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. When explaining how he approached controversial topics, he often pointed to Herbert Huncke: he said that when he first got to know Huncke in the 1940s, Ginsberg saw that he was sick from his heroin addiction, but at the time heroin was a taboo subject and Huncke was left with nowhere to go for help. Likewise, he continuously attempted to force the world into a dialogue about controversial subjects because he thought that no change could be made in a polite silence.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, busking (i.e., public street performance) had grown to be quite a controversial enterprise in New York City. The country was in the midst of a horrible economic depression and many people had turned to busking as a source of income. Buskers were everywhere and fights over locations were alarmingly common between the buskers themselves and the buskers, merchants, and vendors. Out of frustration over the complaining, fighting, and violence, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia banned street performances in New York on the grounds of safety issues regarding the escalating conflicts. Busking went on, but on a much smaller scale. If anybody complained about a busker, at their discretion the police could order the busker to move on or could even arrest him or her. In 1970 Allen Ginsberg challenged the constitutionality of this ban. The ban was lifted in 1970 after being found to be unconstitutional by New York mayor John Lindsay.

Role in Vietnam War protests

Ginsberg also played a key role in ensuring that a 1965 protest of the Vietnam war, which took place at the Oakland-Berkeley city line and drew several thousand marchers, was not violently interrupted by the California chapter of the notorious motorcycle gang, the Hells Angels, and their leader, Sonny Barger.

The day prior to the scheduled march, the Hells Angels attacked the front line of a smaller scale protest where a confrontation between police and demonstrators was brewing. The Hells Angels came in on motorcycles and slashed banners while yelling "Go back to Russia, you fucking communists!" at the protesters. The Hells Angels then vowed to disrupt the larger protest the next day.

Ginsberg traveled to Barger's home in Oakland to talk the situation through. It is rumored that he offered Barger and other members of the Hells Angels LSD as a gesture of friendship and goodwill. In the end, Barger and the other Hells Angels that were present came away deeply impressed by the courage of Ginsberg and his companion Ken Kesey. They vowed not to attack the next day's protest march and furthermore deemed Ginsberg a man who was worth helping out.

It was shortly after the Tompkins Square Park riots in New York that Ginsberg was involved in a fracas with the Mentofreeist group and was assaulted by its leader, Vargus Pike. Pike was arrested, and was later released when Ginsberg, sporting a black eye, refused to press charges.

Relationship to Communism

Ginsberg talked openly about his connections with Communism and his admiration for past communist heroes and the labor movement at a time when the Red Scare and McCarthyism were still raging. He admired Castro and many other quasi-Marxist figures from the 20th century. In "America" (1956), Ginsberg writes: "America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I'm not sorry...." Biographer Jonah Raskin has claimed that despite his often stark opposition to communist orthodoxy, Ginsberg held "his own idiosyncratic version of communism." On the other hand, throughout his life Ginsberg often objected to being characterized as a Communist, stating publicly in 1970: "I am not, as a matter of fact, a member of the Communist party, nor am I dedicated to the overthrow of [the U.S.] government or any government by violence. ... I must say that I see little difference between the armed and violent governments both Communist and Capitalist that I have observed ..."

Ginsberg traveled to several Communist countries to promote free speech. He claimed that Communist countries, China for example, welcomed him because they thought he was an enemy of Capitalism but often turned against him when they saw him as a trouble maker. For example, in 1965 Ginsberg was deported from Cuba for publicly protesting Cuba's anti-marijuana stance. The Cubans sent him to Czechoslovakia, where one week after being named the King of a May Day parade, Ginsberg was labeled an "immoral menace" by the Czech government because of his free expression of radical ideas, and was then deported. Vaclav Havel points to Ginsberg as an important inspiration in striving for freedom.

Gay Rights

One contribution that is often considered his most significant and most controversial was his openness about homosexuality. Ginsberg was an early proponent of freedom for homosexuals. In 1943 he discovered within himself "mountains of homosexuality." He expressed this desire openly and graphically in his poetry. He also struck a note for gay marriage by listing Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong companion, as his spouse in his Who's Who entry. Later homosexual writers saw his frank talk about homosexuality as an opening to speak more openly and honestly about something often before only hinted at or spoken of in metaphor.

In writing about sexuality in graphic detail and in his frequent use of language seen as indecent he challenged—and ultimately changed—obscenity laws. He was a staunch supporter of others whose expression challenged obscenity laws (William S. Burroughs and Lenny Bruce, for example).

Radio talk show host, Michael Savage befriended and traveled with Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Stephen Schwartz, also an acquaintance of Savage from this time, reported Savage possessed a photograph of himself and Ginsberg swimming naked in Hawaii and used the photograph as sort of a "calling card." Savage maintained a correspondence with Ginsberg consisting of ten letters and a trio of postcards across four years, which is maintained with Ginsberg's papers at Stanford University. One letter asked for Ginsberg to do a poetry reading, so others could "hear and see and know why I adore your public image." One postcard from Michael Savage mentions his desire to photograph Ginsberg "nude, in a provocative way."

Association with NAMBLA

Ginsberg also spoke out in defense of the freedom of expression of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). In "Thoughts on NAMBLA," a 1994 essay published in the collection Deliberate Prose, Ginsberg stated, "I joined NAMBLA in defense of free speech." In the essay, he referred to NAMBLA "as a forum for reform of those laws on youthful sexuality which members deem oppressive, a discussion society not a sex club." Ginsberg expressed the opinion that the appreciation of youthful bodies and "the human form divine" has been a common theme throughout the history of culture, "from Rome's Vatican to Florence's Uffizi galleries to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art", and that laws regarding the issue needed to be more openly discussed. In an interview for the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review he said:

"Everybody likes little kids. All you've got to do is walk through the Vatican and see all the little statues of little prepubescents, pubescents and postpubescents. Naked kids have been a staple of delight for centuries, for both parents and onlookers."
—Intermountain Jewish News

Demystification of drugs

Ginsberg also talked often about drug use. Throughout the 1960s he took an active role in the demystification of LSD and with Timothy Leary worked to promote its common use. He was also for many decades an advocate of marijuana legalization, and at the same time warned his audiences against the hazards of tobacco in his Put Down Your Cigarette Rag (Don't Smoke): "Don't Smoke Don't Smoke Nicotine Nicotine No / No don't smoke the official Dope Smoke Dope Dope."


Though early on he had intentions to be a labor lawyer, Ginsberg wrote poetry for most of his life. Most of his very early poetry was written in formal rhyme and meter like his father or like his idol William Blake. His admiration for the writing of Jack Kerouac inspired him to take poetry more seriously. Though he took odd jobs to support himself, in 1955, upon the advice of a psychiatrist, Ginsberg dropped out of the working world to devote his entire life to poetry. Soon after, he wrote "Howl", the poem that brought him and his friends much fame and allowed him to live as a professional poet for the rest of his life. Later in life, Ginsberg entered academia, teaching poetry as Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College from 1986 until his death.

Inspiration from friends

Since Ginsberg's poetry is intensely personal, and since much of the vitality of those associated with the beat generation comes from mutual inspiration, much credit for style, inspiration, and content can be given to Ginsberg's friends.

Ginsberg claimed throughout his life that his biggest inspiration was Kerouac's concept of "spontaneous prose". He believed literature should come from the soul without conscious restrictions. However, Ginsberg was much more prone to revise than Kerouac. For example, when Kerouac saw the first draft of "Howl" he disliked the fact that Ginsberg had made editorial changes in pencil (transposing "negro" and "angry" in the first line, for example). Kerouac only wrote out his concepts of Spontaneous Prose at Ginsberg's insistence because Ginsberg wanted to learn how to apply the technique to his poetry.

The inspiration for "Howl" was Ginsberg's friend, Carl Solomon and "Howl" is dedicated to Solomon (whom Ginsberg also directly addresses in the third section of the poem). Solomon was a Dada and Surrealism enthusiast (he introduced Ginsberg to Artaud) who suffered bouts of depression. Solomon wanted to commit suicide, but he thought a form of suicide appropriate to dadaism would be to go to a mental institution and demand a lobotomy. The institution refused, giving him many forms of therapy, including electroshock therapy. Much of the final section of the first part of "Howl" is a description of this.

Ginsberg used Solomon as an example of all those ground down by the machine of "Moloch." Moloch, to whom the second section is addressed, is a Levantine god to whom children were sacrificed. Ginsberg may have gotten the name from the Kenneth Rexroth poem "Thou Shalt Not Kill", a poem about the death of one of Ginsberg's heroes, Dylan Thomas. But Moloch is mentioned a few times in the Torah and references to Ginsberg's Jewish background are not infrequent in his work. Ginsberg said the image of Moloch was inspired by peyote visions he had of the Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco which appeared to him as a skull; he took it as a symbol of the city (not specifically San Francisco, but all cities). Ginsberg later acknowledged in various publications and interviews that behind the visions of the Francis Drake Hotel were memories of the Moloch of Fritz Lang's film Metropolis (1927) and of the woodcut novels of Lynd Ward. Moloch has subsequently been interpreted as any system of control, including the conformist society of post-World War II America focused on material gain, which Ginsberg frequently blamed for the destruction of all those outside of societal norms.

He also made sure to emphasize that Moloch is a part of all of us: the decision to defy socially created systems of control—and therefore go against Moloch—is a form of self-destruction. Many of the characters Ginsberg references in "Howl", such as Neal Cassady and Herbert Huncke, destroyed themselves through excessive substance abuse or a generally wild lifestyle. The personal aspects of "Howl" are perhaps as important as the political aspects. Carl Solomon, the prime example of a "best mind" destroyed by defying society, is associated with Ginsberg's schizophrenic mother: the line "with mother finally ****** (fucked)" comes after a long section about Carl Solomon, and in Part III, Ginsberg says "I'm with you in Rockland where you imitate the shade of my mother." Ginsberg later admitted that the drive to write "Howl" was fueled by sympathy for his ailing mother, an issue which he was not yet ready to deal with directly. He dealt with it directly with 1959's "Kaddish."

Inspiration from mentors and idols

Ginsberg's poetry was strongly influenced by Modernism (specifically Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, and most importantly William Carlos Williams), Romanticism (specifically Percy Shelley and John Keats), the beat and cadence of jazz (specifically that of bop musicians such as Charlie Parker), and his Kagyu Buddhist practice and Jewish background. He considered himself to have inherited the visionary poetic mantle handed down from the English poet and artist William Blake, and the American poet Walt Whitman. The power of Ginsberg's verse, its searching, probing focus, its long and lilting lines, as well as its New World exuberance, all echo the continuity of inspiration that he claimed.

He studied poetry under William Carlos Williams, who was then in the middle of writing his epic poem Paterson about the industrial city near his home. Ginsberg, after attending a reading by Williams, sent the older poet several of his poems and wrote an introductory letter. Most of these early poems were rhymed and metered and included archaic pronouns like "thee." Williams hated the poems. He told Ginsberg later, "In this mode perfection is basic, and these poems are not perfect."

Though he hated the early poems, Williams loved the exuberance in Ginsberg's letter. He included the letter in a later part of "Paterson." He taught Ginsberg not to emulate the old masters but to speak with his own voice and the voice of the common American. Williams taught him to focus on strong visual images, in line with Williams' own motto "No ideas but in things." His time studying under Williams led to a tremendous shift from the early formalist work to a loose, colloquial free verse style. Early breakthrough poems include "Bricklayer's Lunch Hour" and "Dream Record."

Carl Solomon introduced Ginsberg to the work of Antonin Artaud ("To Have Done with the Judgement of God" and "Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society"), and Jean Genet (Our Lady of the Flowers). Philip Lamantia introduced him to other Surrealists and Surrealism continued to be an influence (for example, sections of Kaddish were inspired by André Breton's "Free Union"). Ginsberg claimed that the anaphoric repetition of "Howl" and other poems was inspired by Christopher Smart in such poems as "Jubilate Agno." Ginsberg also claimed other more traditional influences, such as: Franz Kafka, Herman Melville, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Edgar Allan Poe, and even Emily Dickinson.

Ginsberg also made an intense study of haiku and the paintings of Paul Cézanne, from which he adapted a concept important to his work, which he called the "Eyeball Kick". He noticed in viewing Cézanne's paintings that when the eye moved from one color to a contrasting color, the eye would spasm, or "kick." Likewise, he discovered that the contrast of two seeming opposites was a common feature in haiku. Ginsberg used this technique in his poetry, putting together two starkly dissimilar images: something weak with something strong, an artifact of high culture with an artifact of low culture, something holy with something unholy. The example Ginsberg most often used was "hydrogen jukebox" (which later became the title of an opera he wrote with Philip Glass). Another example is Ginsberg's observation on Bob Dylan during Dylan's hectic and intense 1966 electric-guitar tour, fuelled by a cocktail of amphetamines, opiates, alcohol, and psychedelics, as a "Dexedrine Clown." The phrases "eyeball kick" and "hydrogen jukebox" both show up in "Howl," as well as a direct quote from Cézanne: "Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus."

Style and technique

From the study of his idols and mentors and the inspiration of his friends—not to mention his own experiments—Ginsberg developed an individualistic style that's easily identified as Ginsbergian. "Howl" came out during a potentially hostile literary environment less welcoming to poetry outside of tradition; there was a renewed focus on form and structure among academic poets and critics partly inspired by New Criticism. Consequently, Ginsberg often had to defend his choice to break away from traditional poetic structure, often citing Williams, Pound, and Whitman as precursors. Ginsberg's style may have seemed to critics chaotic or unpoetic, but to Ginsberg it was an open, ecstatic expression of thoughts and feelings that were naturally poetic. He believed strongly that traditional formalist considerations were archaic and didn't apply to reality. Though some, Diana Trilling for example, have pointed to Ginsberg's occasional use of meter (for example the anapest of "who came back to Denver and waited in vain"), Ginsberg denied any intention toward meter and claimed instead that meter follows the natural poetic voice, not the other way around; he said, as he learned from Williams, that natural speech is occasionally dactylic, so poetry that imitates natural speech will sometimes fall into a dactylic structure but only accidentally. Like Williams, Ginsberg's line breaks were often determined by breath: one line in "Howl", for example, should be read in one breath. Ginsberg claimed he developed such a long line because he had long breaths (saying perhaps it was because he talked fast, or he did yoga, or he was Jewish). The long line could also be traced back to his study of Walt Whitman; Ginsberg claimed Whitman's long line was a dynamic technique few other poets had ventured to develop further. Whitman is often compared to Ginsberg because their poetry sexualized aspects of the male form — though there is no direct evidence Whitman was homosexual.

Many of Ginsberg's early long line experiments contain some sort of anaphoric repetition, or repetition of a "fixed base" (for example "who" in "Howl", "America" in "America"), and this has become a recognizable feature of Ginsberg's style. However, he said later this was a crutch because he lacked confidence in his style; he didn't yet trust "free flight". In the 60s, after employing it in some sections of Kaddish ("caw" for example) he, for the most part, abandoned the anaphoric repetition.

Several of his earlier experiments with methods for formatting poems as a whole become regular aspects of his style in later poems. In the original draft of "Howl," each line is in a "stepped triadic" format reminiscent of Williams (see "Ivy Leaves," for example). He abandoned the "stepped triadic" when he developed his long line, but the stepped lines showed up later, most significantly in the travelogues of The Fall of America. "Howl" and "Kaddish," arguably his two most important poems, are both organized as an inverted pyramid, with larger sections leading to smaller sections. In "America," he experimented with a mix of longer and shorter lines.

"Lightning's blue glare fills Oklahoma plains, the train rolls east casting yellow shadow on grass Twenty years ago approaching Texas, I saw sheet lightning cover Heaven's corners... An old man catching fireflies on the porch at night watched the Herd Boy cross the Milky Way to meet the Weaving Girl... How can we war against that?" (From Iron Horse, composed July 22-23, 1966, while riding a train from the West Coast to Chicago. The poem was dictated to a tape recorder, and later transcribed. The second part of the poem takes place on a Greyhound bus.)


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beatle People: Timothy Leary

Timothy Francis Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an American writer, psychologist, futurist, and advocate of psychedelic drug research and one of the first people whose remains have been sent into space. An icon of 1960s counterculture, Leary is most famous as a proponent of the therapeutic, spiritual and emotional benefits of LSD. He coined and popularized the catch phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out."

Early life

Leary was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the only child of an Irish American dentist who abandoned the family when Leary was thirteen. He graduated from Springfield's Classical High School. Leary spent two years at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, but received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Alabama in 1943. His obituary in the New York Times said he "finally earned his bachelor's degree in the U. S. Army during World War II," when he was a sergeant in the Medical Corps. He received his master's degree at Washington State University in 1946, and his Ph.D. in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1950. The title of Leary's Ph.D. dissertation was "The Social Dimensions of Personality: Group Structure and Process." He became an assistant professor at Berkeley (1950–1955), director of psychiatric research at the Kaiser Family Foundation (1955–1958), and a lecturer in psychology at Harvard University (1959–1963). He was fired from Harvard for failing to conduct his scheduled class lectures, though he claimed that he had fulfilled all of his teaching obligations. The decision to dismiss him may have been influenced by his role in the popularity of then-legal psychedelic substances among Harvard students and sympathetic faculty members.

Leary's early work in psychology continued the exploration of pioneers like Dr. Harry Stack Sullivan, Dr. Karen Horney, and Sam Biglari of the importance of interpersonal forces to mental health. Leary focused on how the interpersonal process might be used to diagnose personality patterns or disorders. He developed a complex and respected interpersonal circumplex model, published in The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality, which offered a means by which psychologists could use MMPI scores to determine a respondent's characteristic interpersonal modes of reaction.

In 1955, Leary's wife Marianne committed suicide, leaving him to raise their son and daughter. Before his first experiments with mushrooms, Leary had described his life of 35 years disparagingly, writing he had been "an anonymous institutional employee who drove to work each morning in a long line of commuter cars and drove home each night and drank martinis ... like several million middle-class, liberal, intellectual robots."

Psychedelic experiments and experiences

On May 13, 1957, Life magazine published an article by R. Gordon Wasson that documented (and popularized) the use of psilocybin mushrooms in the religious ceremony of the indigenous Mazatec people of Mexico. Anthony Russo, a colleague of Leary's, had recently taken this psychedelic (or entheogenic) Psilocybe mexicana during a trip to Mexico, and related the experience to Leary. In August 1960, Leary traveled to the Mexican city of Cuernavaca with Russo and tried psilocybin mushrooms for the first time, an experience that drastically altered the course of his life. In 1965, Leary commented that he "learned more about... (his) brain and its possibilities... (and) more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than... (he) had in the preceding fifteen years of studying doing research in psychology."

Upon his return to Harvard that fall, Leary and his associates, notably Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass), began a research program known as the Harvard Psilocybin Project. The goal was to analyze the effects of psilocybin on human subjects (in this case, prisoners and later students of the Andover Newton Theological Seminary) using a synthesized version of the then-legal drug— one of two active compounds found in a wide variety of hallucinogenic mushrooms including Psilocybe mexicana. The compound was produced according to a synthesis developed by research chemist Albert Hofmann of Sandoz Pharmaceuticals.

Leary argued that psychedelics, used with the right dosage, set and setting could, with the guidance of psychology professionals, alter behavior in unprecedented and beneficial ways. The goals of Leary's research included discovering better methods for treating alcoholism and to reform convicted criminals. Many of Leary's research participants reported profound mystical and spiritual experiences, which they claim permanently altered their lives in a very positive manner. According to Leary's autobiography, Flashbacks, they administered LSD to 300 professors, graduate students, writers and philosophers, and 75 percent of them reported it as being like a revelation to them and one of the most educational experiences of their lives.

In the Concord Prison experiment, they administered psilocybin to prisoners, and after being guided through the trips by Leary and his associates, 36 prisoners allegedly turned their backs on crime. The normal recidivism rate of prisoners is about 80 percent, but of the subjects involved in the project, that number dropped to 20 percent. However, the results of this experiment have been largely contested by a follow-up study, citing several problems, including differences in the length of time after release that the study group versus the control group, and other methodology factors, including the difference between subjects re-incarcerated for parole violations versus those imprisoned for new crimes. This study concluded that only a statistically slight improvement could be shown (as opposed to the radical improvement originally reported). In his interview within the study, Leary expressed that the major lesson of the Concord Prison experiment was that the key to a long-term reduction in overall recidivism rates might be the combination of the pre-release administration of psilocybin-assisted group psychotherapy with a comprehensive post-release follow-up program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous groups to offer support to the released prisoners. The study concluded that whether a new program of psilocybin-assisted group psychotherapy and post-release programs would significantly reduce recidivism rates is an empirical question that deserves to be addressed within the context of a new experiment.

Leary and Alpert founded the International Foundation for Internal Freedom in 1962 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was run by Lisa Bieberman (now known as Licia Kuenning), a disciple of Leary and one of his many lovers. Their research attracted a great deal of public attention and, as a result, many people wanted to participate in the experiments, but were unable to do so because of the high demand. In order to satisfy the curiosity of those who were turned away, a black market for psychedelics developed near the Harvard University Campus.

According to Andrew Weil, Leary was fired for not showing up to his lecture classes, while Alpert was fired for allegedly giving psilocybin to an undergraduate in an off-campus apartment. This version is supported by the words of Harvard President Nathan M. Pusey, who, regarding Leary's termination, released the following statement on May 27, 1963:

"On May 6, 1963, the Harvard Corporation voted, because Timothy F. Leary, lecturer on clinical psychology, has failed to keep his classroom appointments and has absented himself from Cambridge without permission, to relieve him from further teaching duty and to terminate his salary as of April 30, 1963."

Leary's activities interested siblings Peggy, Billy and Tommy Hitchcock, heirs to the Mellon fortune, who in 1963 helped Leary and his associates acquire the use of a rambling mansion on an estate in the town of Millbrook (near Poughkeepsie, New York), where they continued their experiments. Leary later wrote:

"We saw ourselves as anthropologists from the twenty-first century inhabiting a time module set somewhere in the dark ages of the 1960s. On this space colony we were attempting to create a new paganism and a new dedication to life as art."

Later, the Millbrook estate was described by Luc Sante of The New York Times as:

"the headquarters of Leary and gang for the better part of five years, a period filled with endless parties, epiphanies and breakdowns, emotional dramas of all sizes, and numerous raids and arrests, many of them on flimsy charges concocted by the local assistant district attorney, G. Gordon Liddy."

Others contest this characterization of the Millbrook estate; for instance, in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe portrays Leary as only interested in research, and not using psychedelics merely for recreational purposes. According to "The Crypt Trip" chapter of Wolfe's book, when Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters visited the residence, the Pranksters did not even see Leary, who was engaged in a three-day trip. According to Wolfe, Leary's group even refused to give the Pranksters acid.

In 1964, Leary co-authored a book with Alpert and Ralph Metzner called The Psychedelic Experience, based upon the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In it, they wrote:

"A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of space-time dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Such experiences of enlarged consciousness can occur in a variety of ways: sensory deprivation, yoga exercises, disciplined meditation, religious or aesthetic ecstasies, or spontaneously. Most recently they have become available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, etc. Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key—it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures."

Repeated FBI raids ended the Millbrook era. Regarding a 1966 raid by G. Gordon Liddy, Leary told author and Prankster Paul Krassner: "He was a government agent entering our bedroom at midnight. We had every right to shoot him. But I've never owned a weapon in my life. I have never had and never will have a gun around."

On September 19, 1966, Leary founded the League for Spiritual Discovery, a religion declaring LSD as its holy sacrament, in part as an unsuccessful attempt to maintain legal status for the use of LSD and other psychedelics for the religion's adherents, based on a "freedom of religion" argument. (Although The Brotherhood of Eternal Love would subsequently consider Leary their spiritual leader, The Brotherhood did not evolve out of IFIF International Foundation for Internal Freedom.) On October 6, 1966, LSD was made illegal in the United States and controlled so strictly that not only were possession and recreational use criminalized, but all legal scientific research programs on the drug in the US were shut down as well.

In 1966, Folkways Records recorded Leary reading from his book The Psychedelic Experience, and released the album, The Psychedelic Experience: Readings from the Book "The Psychedelic Experience. A Manual Based on the Tibetan...".

During late 1966 and early 1967, Leary toured college campuses presenting a multi-media performance "The Death of the Mind", which attempted to artistically replicate the LSD experience. Leary said the League for Spiritual Discovery was limited to 360 members and was already at its membership limit, but he encouraged others to form their own psychedelic religions. He published a pamphlet in 1967 called Start Your Own Religion, to encourage people to do so (see below under "writings").

Leary was invited to attend the January 14, 1967 Human Be-In by Michael Bowen the primary organizer of the event. Leary spoke at the Human Be-In, a gathering of 30,000 hippies in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and uttered his famous phrase, "Turn on, tune in, drop out". The phrase came to him in the shower one day after Marshall McLuhan suggested to Leary that he should come up with "something snappy" to promote the benefits of LSD.

At some point in the late 1960s, Leary moved to California. He made a number of friends in Hollywood. "When he married his third wife, Rosemary Woodruff in 1967, the event was directed by Ted Markland of Bonanza. All the guests were on acid."

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Leary (in collaboration with the writer Brian Barritt) formulated his circuit model of consciousness, in which he claimed that the human mind/nervous system consisted of seven circuits which, when activated, produce seven levels of consciousness (this model was first published as the short essay, "The Seven Tongues of God"). The system soon expanded to include an eighth circuit; this version was first unveiled to the world in the rare 1973 pamphlet "Neurologic" (written with Joanna Leary while he was in prison), but was not exhaustively formulated until the publication of Exo-Psychology (by Leary) and in Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger in 1977. Wilson contributed significantly to the model after befriending Leary in the early 1970s, and has used it as a framework for further exposition in his book Prometheus Rising, among other works.

Leary believed that the first four of these circuits ("the Larval Circuits" or "Terrestrial Circuits") are naturally accessed by most people in their lifetimes, triggered at natural transition points in life, such as puberty. The second four circuits ("the Stellar Circuits" or "Extra-Terrestrial Circuits"), Leary claimed, were evolutionary off-shoots of the first four that would be triggered at transition points that we will have when we evolve further, and would equip us to encompass life in space, as well as the expansion of consciousness that would be necessary to make further scientific and social progress. Leary suggested that some people may "shift to the latter four gears" (i.e. trigger these circuits artificially) by utilizing consciousness-altering techniques such as meditation and spiritual endeavors such as yoga, or by taking psychedelic drugs specific to each circuit. An example of the information Leary cited as evidence for the purpose of the "higher" four circuits was the feeling of floating and uninhibited motion experienced by users of marijuana. In the eight circuit model of consciousness, a primary theoretical function of the fifth circuit (the first of the four developed for life in outer space) is to allow humans to become accustomed to life in a zero or low gravity environment.

Trouble with the law

Leary's first run-in with the law came on December 20, 1965. During a border crossing from Mexico into the United States, his daughter was caught with marijuana. After taking responsibility for the controlled substance, Leary was convicted of possession under the Marihuana Tax Act on March 11, 1966, and sentenced to 30 years in jail, given a $30,000 fine and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. Soon after, however, he appealed the case, claiming the Marihuana Tax Act was, in fact, unconstitutional, as it required a degree of self-incrimination. Leary claimed this was in stark violation of the Fifth Amendment. On December 26, 1968, Leary was arrested again, in Laguna Beach, California, this time for the possession of two roaches of marijuana, which Leary claimed were planted by the arresting officer. He was later convicted of this offense. On May 19, 1969, The Supreme Court concurred with Leary in Leary v. United States. The Marihuana Tax Act was declared unconstitutional, and his 1965 conviction was quashed. On the day his conviction was overturned, Leary announced his candidacy for Governor of California, running against Ronald Reagan. His campaign slogan was "Come together, join the party." On June 1, 1969, Leary joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their Montreal Bed-In and Lennon subsequently wrote Leary a campaign song called "Come Together."

On January 21, 1970, Leary received a ten-year sentence for his 1968 offense, with a further ten added later while in custody, for a previous arrest in 1965, twenty years in total to be served consecutively for less than a half ounce of marijuana. When Leary arrived in prison, he was given psychological tests that were used to assign inmates to appropriate work details. Having designed some of the tests himself (including the "Leary Interpersonal Behavior Test"), Leary answered them in such a way that he seemed to be a very conforming, conventional person with a great interest in forestry and gardening. As a result, Leary was assigned to work as a gardener in a lower security prison, and in September 1970 he escaped. Leary claimed his non-violent escape was a humorous prank, and left a challenging note for the authorities to find after he was gone. For a fee, paid by The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the Weathermen smuggled Leary and his wife, Rosemary Woodruff Leary, out of the United States and into Algeria. He sought the patronage of Eldridge Cleaver and the remnants of the separatist USA Black Panther party’s "government in exile." After staying with them for a short time, Leary claimed that Cleaver attempted to hold him and his wife hostage.

In 1971, the couple fled to Switzerland, "where they were sheltered and effectively imprisoned by a large-living arms dealer, Michel Hauchard, who claimed he had an 'obligation as a gentleman to protect philosophers,' but mostly had a film deal in mind." In 1972, President Richard Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, persuaded the Swiss government to imprison Leary, which it did for a month, but the Swiss refused to extradite him back to the U.S. In that same year, Leary and Rosemary separated. Leary became involved with Swiss-born British socialite Joanna Harcourt-Smith, a stepdaughter of financier Árpád Plesch. Leary "married" Harcourt-Smith at a hotel two weeks after they were first introduced; she used his surname until their breakup in early 1977. They traveled to Vienna, then Beirut and finally went to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1973. "Afghanistan had no extradition treaty with the United States, but this stricture did not apply to American airliners," Luc Sante wrote in a review of a biography of Leary. That interpretation of the law was used by U.S. authorities to capture the fugitive. "Before Leary could deplane, he was arrested by an agent of the federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs."

At a layover in the United Kingdom, as Leary was being flown back to the United States, he requested political asylum from Her Majesty's Government, but to no avail. He was then held on five million dollars bail ($21.5 mil. in 2006). President Richard Nixon had earlier labeled him "the most dangerous man in America." The judge at his remand hearing remarked, "If he is allowed to travel freely, he will speak publicly and spread his ideas." Facing a total of 95 years in prison, Leary was put into solitary confinement in Folsom Prison, California, where at one point he was in a cell immediately adjacent to Charles Manson.

Leary made somewhat of a pretense of cooperating with the FBI's investigation of the Weathermen and radical attorneys, by giving them information that they already had or that was of little consequence. Leary would later claim, and members of the Weathermen would later support, that no one was ever prosecuted based on any information he gave to the FBI.

"The Weather Underground, the radical left organization responsible for his escape, was not impacted by his testimony. Histories written about the Weather Underground usually mention the Leary chapter in terms of the escape for which they proudly took credit. Leary sent information to the Weather Underground through a sympathetic prisoner that he was considering making a deal with the FBI and waited for their approval. The return message was 'we understand.'"

While imprisoned Leary remained a productive writer, sowing the seeds for his incarnation as a futurist lecturer with the StarSeed Series. In Starseed (1973), neurologic (1973), & Terra II: A Way Out (1974), Leary transitioned from Eastern philosophy and Aleister Crowley to a belief that outer space was a medium for spiritual transcendence as his principal frame of reference. Neurologic also added the idea of "time dilation/contraction" available to the activated brain through the cellular, DNA, or atomic level of reality. Terra II is his first detailed proposal for space colonization. Leary’s muse peaked with Exo – Psychology, Neuropolitics, and The Intelligence Agents.

Leary's last two decades

Leary was released from prison on April 21, 1976, by Governor Jerry Brown. After briefly relocating to San Diego, Leary established residence in Laurel Canyon and continued to write books and appear as a lecturer and (by his own terminology) "stand-up philosopher." In 1978, Leary married filmmaker Barbara Blum, also known as Barbara Chase, sister of actress Tanya Roberts. Leary adopted Blum's son and raised him as his own. Leary and Blum divorced in 1992.

Leary cultivated a friendship with former foe G. Gordon Liddy, the notorious Watergate burglar and conservative radio talk-show host. They toured the lecture circuit in 1982 as ex-cons (Liddy having been imprisoned after high-level involvement in the Watergate scandal) debating about the soul of America. The tour generated massive publicity and considerable funds for both figures. Along with the personal appearances, a successful documentary called Return Engagement that chronicled the tour, and the concurrent release of the autobiography Flashbacks, helped to return Leary to the spotlight.

While his stated ambition was eventually to cross over as a mainstream Hollywood personality, reluctant studios and sponsors ensured that that never occurred. Nonetheless, constant touring ensured that he was able to maintain a very comfortable lifestyle by the mid-1980s, while his colorful past made him a desirable guest at A-list parties throughout the decade. He also attracted a more intellectual crowd, which included John Frusciante (Leary appeared in Johnny Depp's and Gibby Haynes' 1994 film Stuff which showed the squalid conditions that Frusciante was living in at the time), Robert Anton Wilson, David Byrne, science fiction wunderkind William Gibson, and Norman Spinrad amongst its ranks.

While he continued to use drugs frequently on a private basis, rather than evangelizing and proselytizing the use of psychedelics as he had in the 1960s, the latter day Leary emphasized the importance of space colonization and an ensuring extension of the human lifespan while also providing a detailed explanation of the eight-circuit model of consciousness in books such as Info-Psychology, among several others. He adopted the acronym "SMI²LE" as a succinct summary of his pre-transhumanist agenda: SM (Space Migration) + I² (intelligence increase) + LE (Life extension).

Leary's colonization plan varied greatly throughout the years. Because he believed that he would soon migrate into space, Leary was opposed to the ecology movement. He dismissed many of Earth’s problems and labeled the entire field of ecology “a seductive dinosaur science.” Leary stated that only the “larval,” intellectually and philosophically backward humans, would choose to remain in “the fouled nest.” According to his initial plan to leave the planet, 5,000 of Earth's most virile and intelligent individuals would be launched on a vessel (Starseed 1) equipped with luxurious amenities. This idea was inspired by the plotline of Paul Kantner's concept album Blows Against The Empire, which in turn was derived from Robert A. Heinlein's Lazarus Long series. In the 1980s, he came to embrace NASA scientist Gerard O'Neill's more realistic and egalitarian plans to construct giant Eden-like High Orbital Mini-Earths (documented in the Robert Anton Wilson lecture H.O.M.E.s on LaGrange) using existing technology and raw materials from the Moon, orbital rock and obsolete satellites.

By the mid 1980s, Leary had begun to incorporate computers, the Internet, and virtual reality into his aegis of thought. Leary established one of the earliest sites on the World Wide Web, and was often quoted describing the Internet as "the LSD of the 1990s." He became a promoter of virtual reality systems, and sometimes demonstrated a prototype of the Mattel Power Glove as part of his lectures (as in From Psychedelics to Cybernetics). Around this time he cultivated friendships with a number of notable people in the field, including Brenda Laurel, a pioneering researcher in virtual environments and human-computer interaction.

In 1989, Leary's eldest daughter, Susan, committed suicide after years of mental instability. After separating from Barbara Leary in 1992, Leary began to associate with a much younger, artistic and tech-savvy crowd that included people as diverse as actors Johnny Depp, Susan Sarandon and Dan Aykroyd, and his granddaughters, Dieadra Martino and Sara Brown; grandson, Ashley Martino; stepson, Zach Chase; author Douglas Rushkoff, publisher Bob Guccione, Jr., and goddaughters: actress Winona Ryder and artist/music-photographer Hilary Hulteen. In spite of his declining health, Leary maintained a regular schedule of public appearances through 1994.

From 1989 on, Leary had begun to reestablish his connection to non-mainstream religious movements with an interest in altered states of consciousness. In 1989 he appeared with friend and book collaborator Robert Anton Wilson in a dialog entitled The Inner Frontier for the Association for Consciousness Exploration, a Cleveland-based group that had been responsible for his first Cleveland, Ohio appearance in 1979. After that, he appeared at the Starwood Festival, a major Neo-Pagan event run by ACE, in 1992 and 1993 (though his planned 1994 WinterStar Symposium appearance was canceled due to his declining health). In front of hundreds of Neo-Pagans in 1992, he declared, "I have always considered myself, when I learned what the word meant, I've always considered myself a Pagan." He also collaborated with Eric Gullichsen on Load and Run High-tech Paganism: Digital Polytheism.


In early 1995, Leary discovered he was terminally ill with inoperable prostate cancer. He did not reveal the condition to the press upon diagnosis, but did so after the death of Jerry Garcia in August.

Leary authored an outline for a book called Design for Dying, which attempted to show people a new perspective of death and dying. Leary's de facto "family" — his staff of technophilic Gen Xers — updated his website on a daily basis as a sort of proto-blog, noting his daily intake of various illicit and legal chemical substances, with a predilection for nitrous oxide, cigarettes, his trademark "Leary Biscuits" (a snack cracker with cheese and a small marijuana bud, briefly microwaved), and eventually heroin and morphine. His sterile house was completely redecorated by the staff, who had more or less moved in, with an array of surreal ornamentation. In his final months, thousands of visitors, well wishers and old friends visited him in his California home. Until the final weeks of his illness, Leary gave many interviews discussing his new philosophy of embracing death.
Movie poster for Timothy Leary's Dead (a Paul Davids film). Universal Pictures. Designed by Mark Hanau

For a number of years, Leary was reported to have been excited by the possibility of freezing his body in cryonic suspension. He did not believe that he would be resurrected in the future, but he believed that cryonics had important possibilities. He called it his "duty as a futurist," and helped publicize the process. Privately he dismissed cryonics as "a joke" and did not seem to regard the process with much seriousness. Leary had relationships with two cryonic organizations, the original Alcor and then the offshoot CRYOCARE. A cryonic tank was delivered to Leary's house in the months before his death. However, Leary subsequently requested that his body be cremated, which it was, and distributed among his friends and family.

Leary's death was videotaped for posterity at his request, capturing his final words. During his final moments, he said, "Why not?" to his son Zachary. He uttered the phrase repeatedly, in different intonations, and died soon after. His last word, according to Zachary Leary, was "beautiful."

Leary's final moments also appear in the documentary, Timothy Leary's Dead (1996). After remembrances are recorded among family and colleagues, Leary allows his bodily functions to be suspended for the purposes of cryonic preservation. Consistent with his embrace of the idea of donating himself to ongoing experiments in consciousness-- e.g., determining whether his consciousness could transcend his life, or moreover could be re-constituted after his death-- the film documents the experiment: Leary's head is removed and placed on ice.

Seven grams of Leary's ashes were arranged by his friend at Celestis to be buried in space aboard a rocket carrying the remains of 24 other people including Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek), Gerard O'Neill (space physicist), Krafft Ehricke (rocket scientist), and others. A Pegasus rocket containing their remains was launched on April 21, 1997, and remained in orbit for six years until it burnt up in the atmosphere.

General Influence / Popular Culture

Timothy Leary's ideas also heavily influenced the work of Robert Anton Wilson. This influence went both ways and Leary admittedly took just as much from Wilson. Wilson's book Prometheus Rising was an in depth, highly detailed and inclusive work documenting Leary’s eight circuit model of consciousness. Although the theory originated in discussions between Leary and a Hindu holy man at Millbrook, Wilson was one of the most ardent proponents of it and introduced the theory to a mainstream audience in 1977's bestselling Cosmic Trigger. In 1989, they appeared together on stage in a dialog entitled The Inner Frontier in Cleveland, Ohio hosted by the Association for Consciousness Exploration, (the same group that had hosted Leary's first Cleveland appearance in 1979). Wilson and Leary conversed a great deal on philosophical, political and futurist matters and became close friends who remained in contact through Leary's time in prison and up until his death. Wilson regarded Leary as a brilliant man and often is quoted as saying (paraphrase) "Leary had a great deal of 'hilaritas,' the type of cheer and good humour by which it was said you could recognize a deity."

Leary's apparent endorsement of care-free LSD usage is also reflected upon in a more negative light in the concluding chapter of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In addition, Owsley Stanley, one of the pioneers of the era, would later write of him:

"Leary was a fool. Drunk with 'celebrity-hood' and his own ego, he became a media clown-and was arguably the single most damaging actor involved in the destruction of the evanescent social movement of the '60's. Tim, with his very public exhortations to the kids to 'tune in, turn on and drop out,' is the inspiration for all the current draconian US drug laws against psychedelics. He would not listen to any of us when we asked him to please cool it, he loved the lime-light and relished his notoriety... I was not a fan of his."

Author and Merry Prankster Ken Kesey remained a supporter and admirer of Leary throughout his career,

"Leary can get a part of my mind that's kind of rusted shut grinding again, just by being around him and talking."

World religion scholar Huston Smith was turned on by Leary after the two were introduced to one another by Aldous Huxley in the early 1960s. The experience was interpreted as deeply religious by Smith, and is captured in detailed religious terms in Smith's later work Cleansing of the Doors of Perception. This was Smith's one and only entheogenic experience, at the end of which he asked Leary, to paraphrase, if Leary knew the power and danger of that with which he was conducting research. In Mother Jones Magazine, 1997, Smith commented:

"First, I have to say that during the three years I was involved with that Harvard study, LSD was not only legal but respectable. Before Tim went on his unfortunate careening course, it was a legitimate research project. Though I did find evidence that, when recounted, the experiences of the Harvard group and those of mystics were impossible to tell apart—descriptively indistinguishable—that's not the last word. There is still a question about the truth of the disclosure."


The Psychedelic Experience was the inspiration for John Lennon's song "Tomorrow Never Knows" on The Beatles' album Revolver. Leary once recruited John Lennon to write a theme song for his California gubernatorial campaign (which was interrupted by his prison sentence), inspiring Lennon to come up with "Come Together," based on Leary's theme and catchphrase for the campaign. Leary was also present when Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono recorded Give Peace a Chance during one of their bed-ins in Montreal and is mentioned in the lyrics of the song. He appears in the world television broadcast of "All You Need is Love" as well.

Leary was the explicit subject of The Moody Blues song "Legend of a Mind," which memorialized him with the words, "Timothy Leary's dead. No, no, no, no he's outside looking in" (a lyric later incorporated into the Bongwater's cover version of the Moody Blues song "Ride My Seesaw"). At first, Leary detested the line, but later found the sense of humor to adopt "Legend of a Mind" as his theme song when he hit the lecture circuit.
Leary, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and others recording "Give Peace A Chance." Photo By Roy Kerwood

A number of other musical groups have admired and been influenced by Leary, including:

* The song "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me," by the alternative rock band Cracker, paraphrases one of Leary's catchphrases in a song about physically escaping mainstream culture (from the album "Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey" (2009).
* The song "Timothy Leary" by the alternative rock band Guster was on their 2007 release of Satellite EP as well as on the "Rock the Net" multi-artist compilation (2008).
* The progressive rock band Tool (who sampled one of his monologues during the opening of their live recording of Third Eye from the Salival album)(2000)
* The metal band Nevermore mentions Leary in their lyrics, and titled one of their albums "The Politics of Ecstasy" (1996) (after Leary's book of the same name). Also, on Nevermore's self-titled album (1995), there is a song named "Timothy Leary".
* The Psychedelic Trance band Infected Mushroom uses a sound clip of Leary saying "Turn on, tune in, and drop out" in a song.
* Leary made a cameo appearance in "Stuff" (1993), a short film directed by Johnny Depp and Gibson Haynes about the Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitar player John Frusciante.
* Leary is also mentioned in the song "The Seeker" by The Who (1970): "I asked Bobby Dylan/ I asked the Beatles/ I asked Timothy Leary/ But he couldn't help me either", placing him among several other leading figures of '60s pop culture.
* References to Leary appear in the iconic counter-culture piece "Hair" in the lyrics to "Let the sunshine in" ("Singing our space songs on a spider web sitar / Life is around you and in you / Answer for Timothy Leary, dearie"), and in the song "Manchester England, England".

Television and Film

Leary was the inspiration for the character "Brother William" in a 1968 episode of Dragnet. In the episode entitled "The Big Prophet", Jack Webb's character Joe Friday along with his partner Bill Gannon visit Brother William's home and spend the entire episode debating the consequences of using LSD and other drugs. Friday famously tells Brother William "Marijuana is the flame, heroin is the fuse, LSD is the bomb." At the end of the episode Brother William is found guilty of selling narcotics to minors.

In the movie, The Ruling Class, the character, Jack Gurney (played by Peter O'Toole), who thinks he is Jesus, claims that the voice of "Timothy O'Leary" told him he was God. Leary also appeared in Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams (1981) as a benevolent psychiatrist administering LSD to mental patients.

Leary also had a brief voice-over appearance on the American sitcom Frasier in the episode, "The Show where Lilith Comes Back," as Hank, a man with an over-eating disorder who called into The Dr. Frasier Crane Show.


Leary authored and co-authored over twenty books and was featured on more than a dozen audio recordings. He had an acting career that included over a dozen appearances in movies and television shows, over thirty appearances as himself in the same, and produced and/or collaborated in both multi-media presentations and computer games.