Skip to main content

Les Claypool says he was on acid during Primus’ 1992 MTV Spring Break performance – “everything I saw was just orange”

Les Claypool from Primus onstage in 1991
Les Claypool onstage in 1991 (Image credit: Paul Bergen / Getty)

In an admission that will surprise precisely zero Primus fans, Les Claypool has revealed that he and guitarist Ler LaLonde took acid ahead of Primus’ landmark 1992 MTV Spring Break show at Daytona Beach.

The bass guitar icon spoke to Revolver recently and recalled the band’s riotous early days and their fast rise to fame amid the heady alternative music boom of the early 90s. 

In the interview, which you can see below, the bassist says he was hassled by his label and management to take the Daytona gig for MTV, despite thinking it was “super cheesy”. 

“We said, ‘No, we don't want to do that,’” says Claypool. “And my manager said, ‘Look, you guys keep passing on all this stuff, the label is gonna stop supporting you…’ So on the way down there, I just got pissed; me and Ler did acid. 

“When you're watching us on that thing, everything I saw was just orange, just bright orange. And I remember talking to [MTV presenter] Pauly Shore – he's like, ‘Hey, buddy…’ And I was like, ‘What the hell's going on here!?’ And we met the Cypress Hill guys, and it ended up being a pretty fun thing.”

According to Claypool, things didn’t get any clearer once they got out of the festival.

“We flew back that night back up to Poughkeepsie, New York, back to the Public Enemy tour. So we were going from Daytona Beach, which was hot and warm, to literally – taking off – the captain said, ‘Well, the airport's closed in Poughkeepsie due to a blizzard, but we think they'll have it open by the time we get there.’ 

“So we're like, ‘What the hell!?’ and we had to do one of those fly arounds, which pilots don't like to do that unless something really bad is happening. The plane got almost completely sideways, and everybody's looking out the window, and it was only just us on the plane. And me and Ler frying out of our minds on acid.”

Claypool also recalls the band’s surprise at their own success at the time and an amusing conversation with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett around the release of 1991 album Sailing The Seas Of Cheese – the band’s first on a major label. 

“It was all so surreal, you know? Getting on MTV, we're like, 'What the hell?’” says Claypool. “I remember Kirk [Hammett] giving me shit, saying, ‘Man, how'd you get on MTV? We can’t even get on MTV!’ We got on with the John The Fisherman video [from their 1990 debut album Frizzle Fry]. It was just all bizarre, being on the radio, that's why we called the [next] album Sailing the Seas of Cheese.”

Sadly, Primus were recently forced to cancel the European leg of their Rush-inspired tour, A Tribute To Kings, due to logistical challenges. For now fans can comfort themselves with this live footage of Primus performing A Farewell To Kings

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Matt Parker
Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.