US jazz musicians were drafted into the CIA’s MKULTRA

US Jazz musicians were drafted into CIA’s MKULTRA

by Jon Rappoport

March 24, 2014

Here is a bit of US history that shows the reach of the CIA’s infamous mind-control program, MKULTRA.

During the 1940s and 50s, it was common knowledge that musicians who were busted for drug use were shipped, or volunteered to go, to Lexington, Kentucky. Lex was the first Narcotics Farm and US Health Dept. drug treatment hospital in the US.

According to diverse sources, here’s a partial list of the reported “hundreds” of jazz musicians who went to Lex: Red Rodney, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Sonny Stitt, Howard McGhee, Elvin Jones, Zoot Sims, Lee Morgan, Tadd Dameron, Stan Levey, Jackie McLean.

It’s also reported that Ray Charles was there, and William Burroughs, Peter Lorre, and Sammy Davis, Jr.

It was supposed to be a rehab center. A place for drying out.

But it was something else too. Lex was used by the CIA as one of its MKULTRA centers for experimentation on inmates.

The doctor in charge of this mind control program was Harris Isbell. Ironically, Isbell was, at the same time, a member of the FDA’s Advisory Committee on the Abuse of Depressant and Stimulant Drugs.

Isbell gave LSD and other psychedelics to inmates at Lex.

At Sandoz labs in Switzerland, Dr. Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, also synthesized psilocybin from magic mushrooms. The CIA got some of this new synthetic from Hofmann and gave it to Isbell so he could try it out on inmates at Lex.

MKULTRA was a CIA program whose goal was to control minds…in part through the use of drugs.

Isbell worked at Lex from the 1940s through 1963. It is reported that in one experiment, Isbell gave LSD to 7 inmates for 77 consecutive days. At 4 times the normal dosage. That is a chemical hammer of incredible proportions.

To induce inmates to join this drug experiment, they were offered the drug of their choice, which in many cases was heroin. So at a facility dedicated to drying out and rehabbing addicts, addicts were subjected to MKULTRA experiments and THEN a re-establishment of their former habit.

Apparently as many as 800 different drugs were sent to Isbell by the CIA or CIA fronts to use on patients at Lex. Two of the fronts? The US Navy and the US National Institute of Mental Health.

In another MKULTRA experiment at Lex, nine men were strapped down on tables. They were injected with psilocybin. Lights were beamed at their eyes–a typical mind control component.

During Isbell’s tenure, no one knows how many separate experiments he ran on the inmates. No one knows what other mind-control programming he attempted to insert along with the drugs.

As I say, Lex was the main stop for drying out for NY jazz musicians. How many of them were taken into these MKULTRA programs?

As Martin Lee explains in his book, Acid Dreams, “It became an open secret…that if the [heroin] supply got tight [on the street], you could always commit yourself to Lexington, where heroin and morphine were doled out as payment if you volunteered for Isbell’s whacky drug experiments. (Small wonder Lexington had a return rate of 90%.)”

A June 15, 1999, Counterpunch article by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, “CIA’s Sidney Gottlieb: Pusher, Assassin & Pimp— US Official Poisoner Dies,” contains these quotes on Dr. Isbell:

“Gottlieb also funded the experiments of Dr. Harris Isbell. Isbell ran the Center for Addiction Research in Lexington, Kentucky. Passing through Isbell’s center was a captive group of human guinea pigs in the form of a steady stream of black heroin addicts. More than 800 different chemical compounds were shipped from Gottlieb to Lexington for testing on Isbell’s patients.

“Perhaps the most infamous experiment came when Isbell gave LSD to seven black men for seventy-seven straight days. Isbell’s research notes indicates that he gave the men ‘quadruple’ the ‘normal’ dosages. The doctor marveled at the men’s apparent tolerance to these remarkable amounts of LSD. Isbell wrote in his notes that ‘this type of behavior is to be expected in patients of this type.’

“In other Gottlieb-funded experiment at the Center, Isbell had nine black males strapped to tables, injected them with psylocybin, inserted rectal thermometers, had lights shown in their eyes to measure pupil dilation and had their joints whacked to test neural reactions.”

Jon Rappoport

The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at

24 comments on “US jazz musicians were drafted into the CIA’s MKULTRA

  1. Mickey Johnson says:

    77 straight days!?! The tolerance to LSD as well as psilocin nearly doubles for the next 24 hrs and goes back to baseline over the next few weeks. Isbell would have had to give them 8x normal dosage the second day, 16x the third, so this seems quite impossible to me. I have had plenty of experience with this drug and other psychedelics (500-1000 trips) and this is pretty common knowledge, so I have a hard time buying this particular fact.

    • Carl Corey says:

      I agree but I don’t think it discounts the article. It just means those psycho doctors lied about the doses.

    • Gus Mueller says:

      It makes sense if you take it as written: 4 times the usual does for 77 days. After a couple days it’s like so what? Same with shining bright lights in the eyes. Once you’ve got your trip on the light really doesn’t matter.

      • Mickey Johnson says:

        The brain doesn’t produce enough of the required chemicals to sustain a trip that long no matter what you take. It takes time. If a trip could last that long, the person would be too psychotic to function afterwards if only due to lack of sleep and proper brain chemistry. I’m not saying the whole things a lie, but this “fact” I would have to see much more proof to believe than the doctor’s notes according to someone else. I’m not sure I would even believe the doctor’s notes if I saw them myself but I would be a bit more curious.

  2. AntiTerrorJewAtheist says:

    Reblogged this on AntiTerrorAthiest and commented:
    Frightening and gut-wrenching , Government gone wild. Makes a person wonder what else they have been up to.

  3. mccoyote says:

    Reblogged this on McCoyote and commented:
    A good summary of Dr. Harris Isbell’s MKULTRA drug research in Lexington, Kentucky by Jon Rappaport.

  4. […] US jazz musicians were drafted into the CIA’s MKULTRA. […]

  5. Winston Smith says:

    ABC actually reported on MKULTRA in 1979! Little known but very important video here: YouTube: Mission: Mind Control (ABC News Closeup, July 1979 clip) put”v=gNMrZZWAvVQ” in your youtube link…I don’t wanna spell out the whole link.

  6. Frederics says:

    The Jazz Musicians were either black, or jewish, NO exceptions. Isn´t that worthwhile to point out? Gerry Frederics

  7. hp says:

    I can imagine Burroughs volunteering, just for fun.
    Writing it off as research.

    • theodorewesson says:


      • hp says:

        My brother lived in Lawrence, a couple of streets over from Burroughs.
        Whenever I visited I would walk by his house everyday and if perchance he was sitting on his porch, (feeling zero pain), or in the garden, I would yell at him – “Hare Krishna! Hare Rama! (haha) He would always laugh and shake his fist at me. My brother said he was very approachable (word on the street), but I was satisfied with our little ritual. (;>)

  8. Excellent article Jon, in line with this time of great revelation. The 20 century as presented was essentially a lie. A massive mass deception. A panopticonian Truman show. Gone wrong or passing as it’s time is up.

    Here is some more shocking “They did what?”….

  9. Just another reminder that there were more like Dr. Ewen Cameron who were funded by the U.S. government.

    Makes one wonder what actually happened to all of those rock-and-roll greats who perished from “drug-overdoses”, doesn’t it??? I am willing to wager that they were also part of the MK-ULTRA “cult-hood” experiments?!?

    Interesting (and very tragic) that so many of the MK-ULTRA “puppies” usually ended up “self-destructing” a short time later; after their usefulness was over?!?

    – Just wonderin’.

  10. Alex Carmichael says:

    My father worked at the Lexington facility from the early 40s until a medical retirement in the late 60s. When he first went to work there he was basically a prison guard but later he was an aide on the psychiatric ward. He was tight lipped about it and as a child I never heard any of these stories. But I can confirm that there were many jazz musicians there as they had an open house every year where the musicians performed. What was of interest was the art work which was displayed at those open houses … some ‘way out’ art as one would imagine. One of my school mates’ father was a medical doctor there and my school mate told me that Ray Charles had been there more than once, My mother was a RN at the Lexington state hospital (mental hospital) and she did relate stories of patients upon whom LSD experiments were performed … she saw some fantastic things and reactions to those experiments. Later in life when I learned more about this and the involvement of the CIA I was completely disgusted with what had been done to these people. Whether or not the patients on the narcotic farm volunteered, I have no reason to believe that the patients at the state hospital were capable of ‘volunteering’. If this was going on at the other state mental hospitals I don’t know … but why stop with the Lexington facility?

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