Grace Slick Tried Dosing Nixon With 600mg of LSD, But Hung A Weed Flag Instead
Left: The Yippie flag. Right: Grace Slick and Abbie Hoffman outside the White House on April 24, 1970. Sources: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr
Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane went to the White House in 1970 with a plan: slip President Richard Nixon a dose of LSD. Slick was a powerful woman in the San Francisco music scene and Woodstock-era counterculture; she was a hero to young people, and Nixon was not. His Vietnam policy, his strong anti-drug policies, and his general unpleasant back-to-the-'50s squareness all made Nixon anathema for the hippies who'd been in full revolt for the past few years. When Slick received an invitation to come to the White House, she saw an opportunity to strike a blow for peace, love and drugs.
Richard Nixon Didn't Invite Grace Slick To The White House
Slick hadn't been invited to the White House by Richard Nixon -- it was Tricia Nixon, the President's daughter, who had sent an invitation to Slick, or at least to the singer's maiden name Grace Wing. Nixon and Slick had both attended Finch, a women's college in New York City, about ten years apart. Slick didn't graduate from Finch (and Finch no longer exists), and neither did Tricia Nixon, but the First Daughter nonetheless decided to throw a gathering for Finch alumnae.
"I got an invitation in the mail. 'Grace Wing, we cordially invite you to a tea... Tricia Nixon at the White House," Slick recalled. "And I thought, 'Oh yeah, I think Tricky Dick needs a little acid.'"
Slick Stood Out Like A Sore Thumb
Slick was giddy with excitement over her plan, and she brought a special guest -- hippie insurrectionist Abbie Hoffman. "I assumed that [Finch alumnae] were bringing their husbands, so I thought, 'I'll dress up Abbie,'" she recalled. "But there's no way to dress up Abbie. We put a suit on him and put his hair back and he looked like a mafia guy. I had on the boots and the miniskirt, and all these other women were dressed the way preppy women dressed – with the camel's hair coat and the gold pins and a pageboy hairdo. So, we stood out right away and the security guards came right over and said, 'Sorry, this is invitation only.' I said, 'Well, I have an invitation!"
Slick And Hoffman Didn't Even Get Close To Richard Nixon
Her plan was actually rather ingenious, “I’d be talking with Richard Nixon, and have the LSD in my fingernail, and just gesture over his tea cup.” Unfortunately, Abbie Hoffman's presence caused the plan to unravel almost immediately. The brief report of the incident in the New York Times explained:
Mr. Hoffman, conservatively dressed and without his beard, said he was Miss Slick's 'bodyguard and escort,' but a White House Policeman would not permit him to enter the grounds, saying, 'This is strictly for females.
Mr. Hoffman brought out a black flag emblazoned with a multicolored marijuana leaf and hung it on the White House gate. It was quickly removed by a White House policeman. The singer and Mr. Hoffman ran across the street and were driven away by a member of the Jefferson Airplane.
Hoffman Left The Yippie Calling Card
The "black flag emblazoned with a multicolored marijuana leaf" would have been the flag of the Yippies, or Youth International Party. The Yippies were an informal party founded in 1967 who embraced free-speech and countercultural ideas, and who were known for pulling stunts and making outrageous statements. In 1968, Yippies proposed to run a pig for president, and threatened to put LSD in Chicago's drinking water as the Democratic Convention (which would be a debacle itself) approached.
While the plan to put acid into Nixon's tea was interesting, it never would have happened even if Slick had entered the White House -- Nixon did not attend his daughter's event.
Grace Slick Was An Outrageous Force Of Nature
If Grace Slick and Abbie Hoffman had managed to dose Nixon, the news would not have been all that shocking. Hoffman was an instigator and prankster, and Slick was a hippie chick with a sharp edge -- the girl parents feared their daughters might turn into. Tall, striking, and unafraid to say or do literally just about everything, Slick came of age at exactly the right time to say what she wanted and do what she wanted while finding adoring fans who loved her for being herself. Nothing was out of bounds for Grace Slick.
A Hippie In The Making
Where Grace Slick was born played a massive role in the person she became. The hippie and free love era were in full swing; Slick lived just a short drive from its epicenter, Haight-Ashbury. Today, techno-riffic San Francisco looks far different from the hippie cow town that it was back in the groovy era, but the sweet smell of marijuana still permeates the streets of the Haight. Some people may have some regrets from that time; Slick only has two, “The things I wish I did do that I did not do, were screw Jimi Hendrix, and ride a horse”.
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Slick’s beauty caught the eye of modeling agents as her lithe figure made waves wearing the hippie garb of the day. “Clothes were fun and I had some good stuff. I wore the same clothes on the street as on the stage. I got a lot from thrift shops in the Haight.” Chic silk vests, hip-hugging herringbone skirts, and boots were staples of her wardrobe. With her piercing eyes, mouth like a sailor, and the voice of angel, Grace easily morphed from model to musician
She even enjoyed a one night stand with Jim Morrison. “Jim was a well-built boy,” Grace remembered. “Larger than average. When I left I said: ‘Call me if you want.’ And he never did. So apparently I’m a terrible lay. I liked Jim. Most women did. He was gorgeous, but he was so screwy – half the time you couldn’t talk to him. He used himself as a human guinea pig, see how far you can push the human brain. I remember coming back from an Airplane gig in 1967 and going to the Tropicana Motel with Kantner, and Morrison was in the hallway, goofy on acid, stark naked and barking like a dog. Paul just stepped over him and went into his room.”
The Jefferson Airplane
Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane became famous for classic-rock anthems "Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit." They rubbed elbows with the biggest names of the time, and headlined Woodstock. A lover of acid, quaaludes, and weed, Slick’s stories read like fantasy but they were just the 70s. Her meeting of Mick Jagger was pretty funny if only for her description:
“I was invited with Kantner to meet Mick Jagger at his Chelsea home to discuss the Altamont concert. I was scared because I thought we were going to walk into an orgy. I’m not against orgies, but I’m not a good multi-tasker. I like one man, one child, one house and one car. Everything else is too confusing. There was no orgy. Jagger’s house was like my parents’. He had oriental rugs, Louis XIV furniture. He was in a three-piece suit. He gave us tea; didn’t offer liquor, didn’t proffer drugs. This was disappointing. We had a formal chat and Altamont was arranged – we would support the Rolling Stones.”
Tags: Abbie Hoffman | Grace Slick | Richard Nixon | Tricia Nixon | Yippies
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