and the veins in the grass won’t pay no mind

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 minutes.

DID ELVIS EVER TRY ACID? Ap­par­ently, yes. Elvis and LSD pop up in ques­tions and con­ver­sa­tions on the In­ternet, so I am pub­lishing this short piece ad­dressing the topic. While his name is prob­ably for­ever linked with the misuse of pre­scrip­tion drugs—many of us heard the word ‘polyphar­macy’ for the first time in re­la­tion to Pres­ley’s death—Elvis also ex­per­i­mented briefly with the mar­i­juana and LSD, both il­legal at the time of the experimentation.

This little “ex­per­i­ment” has re­ceived very little at­ten­tion from his bi­og­ra­phers. Ac­cording to Elvis News, it hap­pened on De­cember 26, 1966. Elvis tried some phar­ma­ceu­tical grade LSD-25 acid with Priscilla, Larry Geller, and Jerry Schilling:

“Elvis had a small party at Grace­land with food pro­vided by Mon­ty’s Catering. Some­time over this pe­riod of Christmas time, Elvis tried LSD. He had read about it for al­most a year and wanted to try it him­self. Af­ter­wards, they watched [the movie The Time Ma­chine] and or­dered pizza.

Later Elvis, Larry, Priscilla, and Jerry walked out be­hind Grace­land and talked about having such good friends and how much they all cared about each other. As for any­body knows this was the only time Elvis ex­pe­ri­enced with LSD.”

Priscilla de­voted a few dis­creet para­graphs to the event in her 1985 book Elvis And Me (page 213):

“During this pe­riod when he was still seeking ‘a higher state of con­scious­ness,’ we ex­per­i­mented with mind-expanding drugs. We tried mar­i­juana a few times and nei­ther of us es­pe­cially liked it. We felt tired and groggy and we’d be­come rav­en­ously hungry. After a few raids on the refrigerator—and car­rying the re­sulting extra poundage—we de­cided to stay away from the stuff.

Al­though he ab­horred street drugs he was cu­rious enough to try LSD once. When he ini­ti­ated our ex­per­i­ment, he made sure Sonny West was on hand at all times to su­per­vise. The night we tried it Lamar, Jerry, Larry, Elvis, and I took seats around the con­fer­ence table in Elvis’ of­fice up­stairs at Graceland.


“We gath­ered around the large aquarium—there were only two or three, but I saw an ocean of brightly col­ored fish.”


Elvis and I took half a tab. At first, nothing hap­pened. Then we started staring at each other and laughing—our faces were be­coming dis­torted. I be­came en­grossed in Elvis’ mul­ti­col­ored shirt. It started to grow, get­ting larger and larger until I thought he was going to burst. It was cap­ti­vating, but I did not like the feeling. I thought: This isn’t real, be careful, you’re losing it. I tried to hang on to sanity.

We gath­ered around the large aquarium out­side the master bed­room, fas­ci­nated by the trop­ical fish. Funny—there were only two or three, but sud­denly I saw an ocean of brightly col­ored fish. I strolled off and found my­self in Elvis’ huge walk-in closet, purring like a kitten.

It was early morning when Elvis and I went down­stairs and walked out­side. Dew came down, cre­ating rain­bows in the mist, glis­tening on the trees and the lawn. We studied the leaves, trying to count each dew­drop. The veins in the grass be­came vis­ible, breathing slowly, rhyth­mi­cally. We went from tree to tree, ob­serving na­ture in detail.

It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence. How­ever, re­al­izing it was too dan­gerous a drug to fool around with, we never tried LSD again.”


PriscillaPresley ElvisAndMe

First hard­cover edi­tion of Elvis And Me (David Bruce Smith Pub­li­ca­tions, 1985).

That focused third eye

Like many celebri­ties who tried acid, it wasn’t talked about by Elvis or his bud­dies, al­though some people re­member Elvis as being very en­thu­si­astic about his ex­pe­ri­ence and rec­om­mending it to friends. Jerry Schilling recalled:

“Elvis and I started having an en­tire con­ver­sa­tion just by laughing. I stared at Elvis, and he seemed to morph into a child. He was this plump little boy, at times in­se­cure. The more I stared, the more he changed. Even­tu­ally, I saw him as a baby smiling back at me, con­tented as could be.”

It ap­par­ently had no im­me­diate ef­fect on his ca­reer, and the closest he ever came to making music that sounded re­motely psy­che­delic was Edge Of Re­ality. It was used in a trippy dream se­quence in the movie Live A Little, Love A Little (1968), which today looks more like ’60s kitsch than ’60s psychedelia.

But that can be said about many (if not most) at­tempts by rock artists to put the LSD ex­pe­ri­ence into vi­sual form—a viewing of the Bea­tles Mag­ical Mys­tery Tour movie of 1967 is a per­fect ex­ample. Or give Mick Jagger singing Memo From Turner in the movie Per­for­mance (pro­duced in 1968 but not re­leased until 1970), which is not only psy­che­delic kitsch but ho­mo­erotic kitsch to boot!

As a big fan of both Elvis and LSD, I’d like to see some cre­ative people con­ceive a few plays or even a movie about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of Elvis on acid in the ’60s. I won’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen, but if these lines in­spire you to do such a thing, throwing a little credit my way would be nice. Fi­nally, if you don’t get the ref­er­ence in the title, click HERE.

Elvis walked out­side. The veins in the grass be­came vis­ible, breathing slowly, rhyth­mi­cally. Share on X

Elvis art RonEnglish 1000

FEA­TURED IMAGE: There are very few ex­am­ples of Elvis ar that I con­sider psy­che­delic, but this painting by Ron Eng­lish ti­tled “Elvis Elvis #3” works just fine, es­pe­cially with that fo­cused third eye.


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