Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick allegedly once plotted to sneak LSD into President Richard Nixon’s system during a trip to the White House in 1970.
In 1970, Jefferson Airplane were the embodiment of the rising youth counter culture in the States. They were living outside of the constraints that previous generations had accepted and the group were idolised by masses throughout the country who looked up to how they were tearing up the rulebook and deviating from societies expectations.
President Nixon, on the other hand, was the antithesis the band stood up for and was the human form of what they detested. Nixon was seen as a venomous figure in the hippie communities which Jefferson Airplane were born out of in San Francisco because of his stringent anti-drug policies. Add that to his seemingly unstoppable love of war with his Vietnam policy and Nixon was taking America back to the strict conservative state it was in the ’50s.
President Nixon hadn’t invited Slick to the White House to perform with her band Jefferson Airplane, her invite had nothing to do with the then leader of the free world. Slick’s invite had instead come from Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, who didn’t invite the singer-songwriter on the strength of 1969s Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane. Instead, she invited because both she and Tricia had attended Finch, which was a women’s college in New York City.
Neither Slick or Nixon had actually managed the feat of graduating from the esteemed college and studied around 10 years apart so we’re not even contemporaries of another. However, this didn’t stop the First Daughter deciding to throw a gathering for Finch alumni at the White House.
Slick had been invited under her maiden name of Grace Wing so White House officials had not made the connection between the hell-raising leader of Jefferson Airplane and the Finch alumni, an oversight which almost saw her spike President Nixon with LSD.
Slick told journalist Phyllis Pollack in 2009: “I’m not really an alumni, because I didn’t graduate. I got an invitation in the mail. ‘Grace Wing, we cordially invite you to a tea…Tricia Nixon at the White House.’ And I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I think Tricky Dick needs a little acid.’”
Slick decided to invite social activist Abbie Hoffman as her date to the event, Hoffman was one of the most notorious members of the counterculture movement and had recently been on trial for inciting unrest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, advocated dumping LSD into the Washington, D.C. water supply, and was a known quantity to the government.
The FBI and the Nixon White House had numerous files on both Grace Slick and Abbie Hoffman, who they perceived to be domestic security risks, however, they somehow didn’t clock that Grace Wing and Grace Slick were, in fact, the same person until the day of the event.
The duo would show up at the White House for tea on April 24, 1970. Slick allegedly had 600 micrograms of LSD powder in her pocket, which would have provided Nixon with the trip of his life. Her plan was to tuck the powder under her long fingernail and slyly drop the substance into Nixon’s teacup during a conversation.
Alas, the plan would never come to fruition as Hoffman was instantly recognised by White House guards in who immediately told Slick: “We checked and you’re a security risk.”
Slick, Hoffman and the alleged LSD were turned away at the door and never got to have their union with the Nixons, the President wouldn’t even make an appearance at the event so the plan would have been impossible to pull off even if they made it to the party.
The singer later discussed this incident with the Wall Street Journal in 2011 and expressed a nuanced look at the LSD culture that she was once an advocate of: “LSD was new then,” she said.
“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.”
Credit: Ultimate Classic Rock