The Beatles Found the Hippie Movement ‘Disgusting’

The Beatles rose to prominence in tandem with the hippie movement. Their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club featured psychedelic imagery and linked the band to the countercultural movement. According to those who knew the band, though, they could not stand hippies. George Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, spoke about how the band felt about the youth movement.

The Beatles did not like hippies

The Beatles’ later albums reflected changing social trends in the 1960s, and the band members’ appearances shifted as well. While they seemed to fit in with the hippie movement in some ways, Boyd said the band did not like it.

“That whole hippie movement, which by the way, The Beatles found disgusting,” she said in the book All You Need Is Love: The Beatles In Their Own Words by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines. “I think the hippie movement … I went to Haight-Ashbury with George. There was really no grace. It was summer and we understood that it was a beautiful and nice, a charming place to go to.”

George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon lean over a table. McCartney and Lennon wear circular, red-tinted glasses.
The Beatles | Roger Viollet Collection/Getty Images

Boyd said that as they walked around Haight-Ashbury, hippies began to recognize Harrison. They joined the group for a while, but Boyd said the crowd turned on them when they refused drugs. This experience colored Harrison’s understanding of the hippie movement. 

“Sure enough, because George didn’t accept some drugs that they were trying to give him, they started rocking the car. Bang,” she recalled. “It turned into a horror show, which was rather frightening.”

George Harrison had the biggest problem with the countercultural movement 

Perhaps understandably, given the experience he had, Harrison had a particularly big problem with hippies. 

“Instead, it turned out to be just a lot of bums,” Harrison said in the Martin Scorsese documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World. “Many of them were just very young kids who’d come from all over America and dropped acid and gone to this mecca of LSD.”

Harrison had used LSD, but he did not like that the group used the drug so often.

“This is a thing that I want to try and get over to people,” he said, per the book George Harrison on George Harrison. “Although we’ve been identified a lot with hippies, especially since all this thing about pot and LSD’s come out, we don’t want to tell anyone else to have it because it’s something that’s up to the person himself. Although it was like a key that opened the door and showed a lot of things on the other side, it’s still up to people themselves what they do with it. LSD isn’t a real answer.”

John Lennon said one Beatles song was about a part-time hippie

While The Beatles did not like hippies, they wrote at least one song about them. According to John Lennon, the song “Day Tripper” was about a “part-time hippie.”

“Day trippers are people who go on a day trip, right?” he said in the book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. “Usually on a ferryboat or something. But it was kind of — you know, you’re just a weekend hippie. Get it?”

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