The Day Grace Slick Planned to Dose President Richard Nixon With LSD
If Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick had her way in 1970, Richard Nixon might have been called Trippy Dick, instead.
The 37th president of the United States never saw eye to eye with the American counterculture, of course. His administration was peppered with protests, principally against the escalation of the Vietnam War. And Slick's plan was, in its own way, an attempt to heal that rift. She figured, if Nixon were to drop some high-grade LSD, he might just see the world a little differently. Then, perhaps, he would rethink his stance on, well, everything.
She had the perfect opportunity, too. Slick received an invitation to the White House from Nixon's daughter Tricia in April 1970. As fate would have it, both Tricia Nixon and Slick were alumni of Finch College, though 10 years apart. Tricia was planning a social event for alumni, and on that list was Slick – under her maiden name Grace Wing.
At first, no one in the Nixon administration made the connection. Slick accepted the invite, and decided to bring a friend along to the party. That friend? Notorious radical Abbie Hoffman.
"I got the invitation in the mail and went, 'Oh yes!'," she recalled in Jeff Tamakin's Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. "I assumed that they were bringing their husbands, so I thought, 'I'll dress up Abbie.' 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!"
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Slick's plan, now in serious jeopardy, was to casually slip the acid into the president's afternoon tea. The timing, actually, couldn't have been better: Jefferson Airplane's new single "Mexico" was an angry tirade against the administration's anti-drug policy.
"I'd be talking with Richard Nixon, and have the LSD in my fingernail, and just gesture over his tea cup," she told CBS News in 2013. "He would have been talking about the walls melting. We laughed just thinking about it." When asked if she was serious, Slick replied, "Yeah, I was!"
Slick and Hoffman, however, were the poster children for everything anti-Nixon. It didn't take long for White House security to sniff them out. A guard promptly informed Slick that she couldn't come in. "He was right," Slick adds. "He didn't know why, but he was right."
As it happened, her plan to turn on Nixon would have fallen flat, anyway. The president wasn't planning to attend his daughter's alumni event.
Years later, Slick couldn't help but wonder what might have happened, though. "LSD was new then," she told the Wall Street Journal in 2011. "It opened up our heads and gave us new insight into the fact that reality isn't just one thing. That excited us, but it's also terrifying if your head isn't in the right place. So in hindsight, our advocating for LSD was kind of dangerous."
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