LSD: Interview With a 1960s Acid Guide—Part 4
Driving on LSD
BK (Dr Billy Kidd): Did you ever drive on LSD?
AG (Acid Guide): I did until one day I was in the countryside in Marin. The road turned into a ribbon with a dotted line up the middle and headed up into the sky. On blind faith, I took the ribbon up into the sky—I mean, where the heck else was there to go?
AG: Finally, I got the van pulled over, got out, and shook it off. I mean, I had to sit down and repeat to myself, “Maintain,” over and over. I was so thankful my unconscious mind and my conscious ego agreed on what to do in that situation—follow the ribbon. Don’t slam on the brakes or veer off the road. We could have been dead on that one. We were buzzing at least 65 miles per hour when it hit me.
BK: I’ve never heard of such a thing. I mean, what you saw. That was reality for you—this ribbon going up into the sky?
AG: Yeah. But I’d seen a big top hat rolling down the freeway before this. So I guess I was ready for the whole road to turn into a delusion.
BK: A top hat rolling down the highway!
AG: Yeah, it was so funny. But not as crazy as when I was driving and didn't know it.
AG: Hey, I was driving the van, loaded with friends, around the Bay. And asked, “Who’s driving?” Everyone laughed. They thought it was a joke. A funny one, because we were so high. Then suddenly, I looked at my hands on the steering wheel and realized it was me. Talk about being on autopilot. I actually forgot I was the driver.
AG: I had the driving stoned thing down so well, I’d get caught up in other things as I drove. But with the ribbon thing, it totally freaked me later. “No more acid and driving,” I told myself. But you know, I broke that promise. The '60s were just too much of "anything goes" to do otherwise.
Who Spoke for the '60s?
BK: So there's a limit of how much of "anything goes" before you lose--what? Your mind. I mean, some people talk about anarchy as the way to go and others say democracy has become anarchy.
AG: True mental anarchy is where you get so loose you lose your base in the real world. Then, you live in a world of imagined things. And you drift.
BK: All right, so true anarchy is where you loose your sense of reality and live in a delusion.
AG: Right. And drugs and free sex will do that.
OK. OK. But I'm wondering, was there a particular band or person, like Timothy O’Leary or Dylan, who spoke for the ‘60s?
AG: The voice of the ‘60s was drugs and war. And now with the draft gone, America is free to hire mercenaries and fight forever. And you know, the people who could make a difference--well, they’re preoccupied with doing “lots of laughs” with their gadgets.
The First Big Music High
BK: I see what you are saying. But for you personally, was there any event that stands out in your mind today about the whole thing, maybe sums it up—the Spirit of the ‘60s?
AG: It’s kinda funny, lookin’ back at it. Ya see, I was in L.A. walking down Sunset in Hollywood, smoking a fat number—all in style. You know, wearing my Dylan boots, P-coat, black hat. Then, as I lifted my foot up and put it down, I went into a dream. I mean, now all the lights stood out and people looked good. And I glanced up and there’s a marque at a bar that says something like “Beach Boys” in huge letters. And down in the corner of the sign it said “The Doors” in these tiny letters.
BK: Small letters!
AG: For real. Anyway, I didn’t care about the music—never heard of The Doors. But I wanted a drink and didn’t care about this straight band they were headlining.
BK: So you were about 21?
AG: I had a fake ID at 17. So I was maybe 18. I paid the cover and went in. And there’s this long-haired, ripped-looking person hanging on the mike. And this lofty organ sound, coming at you subtly—psychic-like. It rose in waves and then rolled like breakers on the beach. It kept picking you up, then slowing you down, taking you back to Earth—over and over again. It was just revolutionary for that place in time.
BK: It wasn’t the dope talking?
AG: No, dig it. While all this is going on, I ordered a whiskey sour. The drink arrives, and The Doors are still playing the same song as when I came in. And on and on and on—with a stoned-out audience following them through every move. I’d never tripped out so intensely on a band for so long before.
BK: Was that your first music high?
AG: The first big one that stands out. I left when their set was over. You know, if you had seen Morrison at his first big gig you wouldn’t think anything could take you higher—not at that time and place. So no, it wasn’t the weed talking.
The Doors: The End
BK: I’m sure there are people who’d give up almost everything to have been at that Doors gig.
AG: For real.
BK: By the way, do you really have no problem with me publishing your story?
AG: The first one’s free, baby! Just leave my name out of it.
BK: Cool. Oh, another thing. What did you charge for these trips?
AG: I only charged for being the acid guide. I told people the drugs were free. I asked for maybe twenty dollars a person for the ride. Someone would generally buy the gas or slip me a few twenties. A twenty went a long way in those days. Like a hundred now. Doing it that way, you couldn’t say I sold you drugs. I was just giving you a tour of the Bay Area.
BK: What did it cost you to take a group out tripping?
AG: My expenses? I’d take a gallon of Red Mountain wine. But if someone got too frigging stoned, I had a bottle of whisky stashed to bring them down a little. If that didn’t help, I had a stash of Reds, downers. That was really a rare thing to have to use them. You see, these were fun outings. Play Land, OK? Adults acting like children in many ways.
BK: What about Haight Asbury? You don’t seem to talk about it?
AG: I lived it. The spirit of love and good will. But if we did the Haight, it would be too stimulating. The group could have split up, and I didn’t want to make a scene. So we’d mostly do the countryside.
The Highest High
BK: What else stands out in your mind about this period in your life?
AG: I guess I have to really cut loose to answer that one.
BK: Why not—if you are OK with it.
AG: I was high on mescaline, right? And I was going back and forth on a swing at my buddy Joe’s house. It was on a rural spread in the hills near Stanford University. Joe had just played a half-dozen versions of a Beatles song on the piano. So we were flying. And then I found myself on the swing, eyes shut, meditating, when I saw the Akashic Records. In Buddhism, that’s the ethereal record of the Earth. I went back in time and then forward. I saw things that were unimaginable.
BK: Geez. You're saying the Akashic Records really there.
AG: I knew it was real then. And I understand why some mystics believe in it. You have to have reached a higher plane of existence to see it. I mean you have to had rendered up your soul to get there. And I had asked God to make me holy one time when I was stoned watching the windmills in Amsterdam. But you have got to be careful with what you ask for. That's because you'll get some hard lessons. We're just people, not saints. This thing, this traveling in time, was overwhelming. And later I passed out. They found me lying on the ground in some bushes when Joe came looking for me.
BK: OK. You’ve blown my mind. And I’m trying to keep the conversation going. But I’m breathless—you saying you actually saw the recorded history of life. I mean, I’ve only heard the term once in all my years of study.
AG: That’s cool. Real or imagined, the Akashic record is there.
BK: Real or imagined?
AG: I’d never heard of this thing and then suddenly there I am time traveling on mescaline. So let’s just leave it there.
BK: Right. OK, I guess. Anything else stand out in your mind about the 1960s?
AG: Well, John Lee Hooker. He was like a father figure to me. You know, when I moved out of the commune after Crystal left, I lived in Oakland. Hooker didn’t live all that far away, and I’d go to his apartment. This was back when Tex was his manager. And so, one night I came over with a six pack of beer and John had one. The next night I did the same thing and John says, “I don’t drink.” Go figure that one?
AG: Hooker was talking it up with this red headed woman. And finally, Hooker says, “Show us some of your licks,” and hands me his guitar. OK, now he’s got this small apartment with chairs and couches surrounding the living room. And John hands me his personal guitar, and I play for a while. When I got done and handed the guitar back, Hooker says, “All right, but--hey hey hey--don’t come over here stoned anymore.” The room went silent and everyone stared at me like I’d committed a sin.
AG: I was high on coke, and had stopped doing the acid guide thing. And I moved equipment for Hooker a few times. But he had problems in his family with kin folk using drugs. And he was the first of the big boys to come out against drugs. He cranked up his anti-drug thing when his friend Wilson, from Canned Heat, died from an overdose.
John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt : I'm In The Mood
The First Wakeup Call
BK: How’d that go—getting called out on your drug use?
AG: It was a wakeup call all right. I’d already had one, but people don’t always learn until a mentor steps in.
BK: What was the first wakeup call? Want to talk about it?
AG: I got a call after that Thanksgiving trip.
BK: The commune had a phone?
AG: Yeah, locked in my room. I only give my number to my friends. Clients? I’d call them and remind them where to meet me. Got stood up a few times. But what the heck.
BK: And the wakeup call?
AG: This guy calls and says, “Is this the guy who played guitar at my house on Thanksgiving? He gave me this number.” I said that I woke up on the floor of a cool pad in Frisco the day after Thanksgiving. “That’s right,” he says. And he gives me a place where he wants to meet me. I say, “How will I identify you?” He says, “I know you; just be there. Wear a sport coat and cover you long hair with a hat. No purple pants. And shave.” So I do all that—I mean we’re talking a rich mother, judging by his house. And so we meet and he tells me that I told him I could get him all the coke he wanted.
AG: Then he tells me that the word is that his type can’t have hippie musicians in their homes anymore. That was because the police had too may undercover agents out who were trying to nail the dealers. But kind of as bait, he says he’s got a tape of me playing some pretty wild stuff. He said It's incredible.
BK: How’d you react?
AG: That I’d get pulled in and have to be a snitch if I didn’t watch myself. But I sensed I had a secure connection and got him his coke. The money I made blew my cool. So I dealt to him and his trusted friends. Well, there were others. But no more acid trips. No more not knowing what I was doing. And then Hooker spots me on coke. I still remember the white tile floor in his bathroom where I snorted up and the old white refrigerator where I stashed the beer. That whole thing made me realize I wasn’t thinking normally. I had to quit this whole trip. Move. Get out of town before I went crazy or went to jail.
BK: Did you hear the tape from Thanksgiving?
AG: Yeah, and it made me realize why Crystal was so pissed at me?
BK: What do you mean?
Performing on LSD
AG: I gigged at some coffee shops, OK? And one time I shut my eyes and watched this white light that appeared in my mind. It was so enthralling that I forgot I was playing. I just stared at the light in my mind. Meanwhile, I was doing some sort of spell-binding riffs. The room was silent. So I didn’t realize I was still there and performing until I finally I stopped playing and opened my eyes to discover I was on stage. Then suddenly, the room breaks out with the wild applause.
BK: You’re kidding.
AG: No. And coming off the stage, and making my way back to Crystal, people wanted to shake my hand. I was excited then. But I didn’t know why the audience was. So I asked Crystal, “What did I play that’s got them so worked up?” She asked me with a totally startled look, “You don’t remember?” When I said, “No,” she would hardly speak to me the rest of the evening.
BK: How could you not know what you just played?
AG: That's what Crystal wanted to know--how I could be so stoned as to not remember. And, to think about it, she was getting very tired of my drug use. Oh, wow, I almost missed this. I was using the excuse that I was stoned which is why I did or didn't do such-and-such. You know, as if it was OK, just too cool, and really hip to be stoned.
BK: OK. I get that. People with addictions always have an excuse. Like the gambler who is borrowing another ten-thousand because he or she feels the next big win is coming.
AG: I guess that's it. But now that I think about it, I really didn't have a clue that I had a drug problem.
BK: Still, that’s an amazing story—hypnotizing an audience and not knowing how you did it. Can you explain it?
AG: Actually, no. There's another issue that I'd forgotten until this moment. It felt like an alien force took over for me and a wild man came out and played.
BK: An alien force!
AG: Yeah, for real. So no, I didn’t recognize the guy on tape—wailing, strumming, hooting, and stopming like a crazy S.O.B. Then doing mantras like I was some guru from India.
BK: No way.
AG: For real. This happened a lot as I looked down at my hands. This alien force taking them over. So hey, the unconscious imagination is powerful. Well, I think I got a good taste of mine.
BK: Whew. But you knew you were on LSD when this happened?
AG: Well, yeah, when it happened I could feel it. But later I never knew when I took what. Once you get high on most anything, you forget what you’ve done. It’s like drinking a tall six pack and forgetting you had two shots of whiskey afterwards. Because, you know, you’re frigging drunk.
BK: I get it. But why did this guy from Thanksgiving trust you to get him coke?
AG: I asked him the same thing. And he said, “Anyone who takes the whole house to nirvana cannot be a snitch. Not the way you closed your eyes and went into a trance.
BK: Interesting. Another trip lost to your memory, right?
AG: You got it. That kinda of defines the ‘60s
BK: But how come you remember this much of if you were stoned?
AG: Hey, there’s like a whole lot of time I cannot account for. A complete loss. Don’t even know where I was or what happened. Drugs screw up your memory, especially pot and hash. That's because they're so subtle you don't know it's happening. It slowly creeps up on you.
BK: So you’re probably against legalizing marijuana, right?
AG: No, it’s relatively harmless. Just compare a little memory dysfunction to all the insane things people do when they’re drinking. What? Maybe a hundred-thousand car accidents caused by alcohol in the U.S. every year.
BK: So, don’t worry about marijuana, just designer drugs, LSD, and crack?
AG: Plus meth and heroin.