Did Jimi Hendrix really put LSD on his headband before performing?

The subject of Hendrix and drugs has long been muddled, partly because some members of Hendrix’s family long insisted that he had never taken any drugs at all, but mostly because the man isn’t around to set the record straight himself. (Asked in 1970 if he had “outgrown dope,” seven months before his untimely overdose of barbituates, Hendrix replied, “I don’t take as much.”) But some fans relish the notion that his technique for taking drugs was as inventive as his guitar playing: a popular rumor has long been that he would conceal LSD under his headband and let it enter his body through the pores of his forehead. (The story has variations: sometimes it’s heroin or cocaine that Hendrix had under the bandana; sometimes he’s supposed to have cut his brow to get the drugs into his bloodstream faster.)

While it’s not completely impossible to dose yourself with acid that way–you can get a contact high from handling sheets of blotter acid, and some people have been known to ingest liquid LSD through their eyes–frankly, it would have been a lot of needless effort for Hendrix when he could just have taken the acid orally before going onstage. So you won’t find any source on this rumor more reliable than the older brother of some guy you took wood shop with in junior high; Hendrix experts don’t lend the story any credence. Jim Fricke, for example, senior curator at the Experience Music Project, the Seattle rock museum with an extensive Hendrix collection, is familiar with the headband rumor, but told me, “I have never heard any backup for that story.”

(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)