Sometimes, even the greats have to hang up their guns and ride into the sunset. Or at least give up the ganja and live like a square.
Few people have put weed to better use than Sir Paul McCartney, with the debatable exception of Bob Marley. McCartney was long famous for his marijuana consumption, picking up the habit in the early 1960s along with his bandmates. Bob Dylan famously introduced them to the drug.
Yet these days McCartney no longer tokes, thanks in part to his current better half. In an interview earlier this year, the singer, songwriter, and all-around music icon told British tabloid The Daily Mirror he has put cannabis in the past in the years since his first wife died in 1998.
Switched from marijuana to alcohol
“The last time I smoked was a long time ago,” McCartney told the newspaper. “Instead of smoking a spliff, I’ll now have a glass of red wine or a nice margarita.”
This is a long leap from the Paul McCartney we used to know. That McCartney first encountered weed on Aug. 28, 1964, at the Delmonico Hotel in New York City, when Dylan passed a few joints among The Beatles after a concert.
McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison – all took to weed immediately. They became notorious for it; for all the “flower power” of the 1960s, cannabis was still widely viewed as a hard drug akin to heroin, putting those who smoked it at real risk of arrest and jail time. That, in turn, meant that people who toked were breaking serious rules – exactly the kind of thing rock phenoms like The Beatles are expected to do.
McCartney got busted in ’75
But the rules caught up with McCartney in 1975, when he was arrested carrying pot that belonged to his first wife, Linda Eastman. They were both later busted for growing cannabis plants at their Scottish farm.
It was Eastman, apparently, who kept McCartney in touch with marijuana. She used the drug to treat the breast cancer that ultimately killed her, and he had a reputation to uphold.
But that all changed after Eastman’s death. McCartney remarried, this time to photographer Heather Mills, who frowned on his weed use. He quit, cold turkey, and it appears he hasn’t touched the stuff since. That may be hard to believe, but it seems his third wife, businesswoman Nancy Shevell, also prefers he stay off the grass. But McCartney says it’s about the rest of his family, too.
“I don’t really want to set an example to my kids and grandkids,” he said. “It’s now a parent thing. Back then I was just some guy around London having a ball, and the kids were little so I’d just try and keep it out of their faces.”