Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane: the fierce queen of San Francisco’s psychedelic scene wanted to drug Richard Nixon

Domagoj Valjak
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Nowadays, most people know Grace Slick as a singer-songwriter who fronted the influential psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane. Some of the famous songs she wrote and sang, which are still as popular as they were in the 1960s, include “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love.”

Her music career involved a number of renowned rock bands and spanned more than 40 years. However, Slick was not just a musician. She was a peace activist and an outspoken supporter of the use of psychedelics. Slick was a prominent figure of the 1960s counterculture who inspired generations of musicians and artists.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Slick led a turbulent life that was marked by legal troubles and battles with the establishment. She became notorious for openly speaking out against censorship, the Vietnam War, and the political policies of the Nixon administration.

In fact, the Nixon administration recognized her as a potential enemy of the state and even as a possible terrorist, so she was blacklisted by the FBI. What the government might not have realized is what she planned something of a psychedelic attack on Richard Nixon that, if she’d been successful, would likely lead to her imprisonment.

Grace Slick circa 1967 publicity headshot

In 1969, Slick was utterly disappointed with Nixon’s attitude towards the counterculture and the war in Vietnam. She was convinced that his view had been corrupted and that he would perhaps be able to see the beauty of the world around him if he were introduced to psychedelic drugs. In her opinion, psychedelics, particularly LSD, could help people see the world in a new way and make them realize that peace is the only path to progress. Therefore, she decided to drug Nixon with LSD.

Jefferson Airplane in early 1966.

Incidentally, Slick and Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, were both alumni of Finch College, New York. Tricia Nixon decided to organize a special alumni dinner at the White House and Slick saw this dinner as a perfect chance to go through with her mischievous plan. She decided to attend the dinner: since she was aware of the fact that the authorities wouldn’t want her to come even remotely close to the then-president, she used her maiden name “Grace Wing” and received a formal invitation in the mail. Since all attendees were allowed to bring a friend to the event, Slick decided to bring Abbie Hoffman, a radical social activist, anarchist, and the co-founder of the Youth International Party known as “Yuppies.”

Abbie Hoffman visiting the University of Oklahoma to protest the Vietnam War. Author: Richard O. Barry CC BY 2.0

Since the security policies at the White House were strict and Slick knew that she would be thoroughly searched, she hid a small amount of high-quality LSD under her fingernails. She planned on smearing the drug across the rim of the president’s glass. The pair wore formal clothes and arrived at the White House on the evening of the dinner. However, since both of them were prominent figures of the counterculture, the security guard at the entrance recognized them and they were ordered to leave the premises.

Richard M. Nixon

Slick’s plan would have failed even if she and Hoffman had managed to bypass the security guards and attended the dinner. Although many high-ranking officials of the U.S. government attended the event, Nixon never showed up. The fact that the plan failed was probably the best scenario possible for both Slick and Hoffman in the long run: drugging the president would be an unprecedented move and it would most likely result in severe legal repercussions. If the two had managed to slip some acid into Nixon’s drink, they would most likely have spent the rest of their lives behind bars.

Related story from us: Louis Armstrong asked Richard Nixon to carry his bags through customs. The bags had marijuana in them

Fortunately for them, the failure enabled them to continue their artistic endeavors and protests.