David Bowie claimed to have first started taking pills at around “thirteen or fourteen” but it wasn’t until he was much older when he first smoked pot. He soon found himself walking off into the street in pursuit of fascinating cracks in the pavement, all as a result of a pre-Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones passing him a joint.
Bowie, whose escapades with drugs have been well documented, made the admission about his history with cannabis to Playboy as part of a 1976 interview, the same year that he and Iggy Pop were arrested in Rochester, New York, on a charge of possessing the drug during The Thin White Duke era.
Talking about his history of drug use before first smoking weed, Bowie professed: “I’d done a lot of pills ever since I was a kid. Thirteen or fourteen. But the first time I got stoned on grass was with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin many, many years ago, when he was still a bass player on Herman’s Hermits records,” said Bowie, offering a tableau of his life before fame.
He continued: “We’d been talking to Ramblin’ Jack Elliot somewhere and Jonesy said to me, ‘Come over and I’ll turn you on to grass’. I thought about it and said, ‘Sure, I’ll give it a whirl’. We went over to his flat—he had a huge room, with nothing in it except this huge vast Hammond organ—right next door to the police department.”
Speaking about his unusual narcotic journey which started at the deep end, Bowie added: “I had done cocaine before but never grass. I don’t know why it should have happened in that order, probably because I knew a couple of merchant seamen who used to bring it back from the docks. I had been doing it with them. And they loathed grass. So I watched in wonder while Jonesy rolled these three fat joints. And we got stoned on all of them.” What goes up, must come down, or at least walk aimlessly into the street.
Then Bowie went on to reveal how he dealt with the inevitable munchies that followed Jones’ special joints: “I became incredibly high and it turned into an in-fucking-credible hunger. I ate two loaves of bread. Then the telephone rang. Jonesy said, ‘Go and answer that for me, will you?’ So I went downstairs to answer the phone and kept on walking right out into the street.”
Bowie confessed: “I never went back. I just got intensely fascinated with the cracks in the pavement.” He followed his imagination and found himself out on the street and far away from Jonesy’s. It’s yet another story filled with charm that we couldn’t help but share with you.
In the same interview, Bowie also talked about his relationship with LSD but it didn’t do much for him: “I did [it] three times. It was very colourful, but I thought my own imagination was already richer. Naturally. And more meaningful to me. Acid only gives people a link with their own imagery. I already had it.”
The Starman continued, “It was nothing new to me. It just sort of made a lot of fancy colours. Flashy lights and things. “Oh, look. I see God in the window.” So what? I never needed acid to make music, either.”