This Day in History — Paul McCartney Released From Tokyo Jail After Nine Days
On this day in 1980, Paul McCartney was finally released after nine days in a Tokyo jail, following his arrest for attempting to walk through the Tokyo airport customs with a half pound of weed during his tour with Wings.
“I didn’t try to hide it.” McCartney reported. “I had just come from America and still had the American attitude that marijuana isn’t that bad. I didn’t realize just how strict the Japanese attitude is.” Man, things sure have changed in America since the 80s.
McCartney was taken to the Drug Supervisory Center for interrogation, and after 11 hours of god-knows-what, the Wings tour was cancelled and McCartney was imprisoned in a 4-by-8 cell, where he stayed for the next nine days, which is lucky, because apparently he faced a sentence that could have lasted up to eight years.
This wasn’t Paul’s first drug charge, it was his fourth; having paid fines in Sweden for hashish, and two charges in Scotland for marijuana possession and growing. Legend has it that prior to the tour, Paul had signed an affidavit that swore that his pot-smoking days were ever, as a condition for being granted a visa.
“Inmate #22,” as he was affectionately named in the Tokyo prison, was the picture of politeness during his stay, despite not being allowed a guitar or writing implements. He spent his nine days talking to prisoners, and reported that he was treated very well by the prison guards.
“My first night was the worst,” McCartney said. “I couldn’t sleep. I was frightened about the possibility of not seeing my family for years.”
This is my favorite interview with McCartney, on his use of LSD and his “responsibility as a public figure”: