One Toke Over the Line – Brewer and Shipley – 1970

Brewer and Shipley-One Toke Over the Line-1970They got in trouble with the US Vice-President, but that didn’t stop Brewer and Shipley going One Toke Over the Line back in 1970.

can you remember when…?

Does anyone remember this song? I remember hearing it as a kid. I knew it was about drugs, but it never occurred to me that anyone would get upset anyone. But people did.

It was banned on some radio stations and, apparently, Spiro Agnew, the Vice-President at the time, put Brewer and Shipley on subversiveness watch, just to make sure they weren’t using this song to plot the downfall of the free world.

Mike Brewer said:

Brewer&Shipley2The Vice President of the United States, Spiro Agnew, named us personally as a subversive to American youth, but at exactly the same time Lawrence Welk performed the crazy thing and introduced it as a gospel song. That shows how absurd it really is. Of course, we got more publicity than we could have paid for.

still going strong

Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley are another of those artists who, after all these years, are still together making music.

Hailing from Kansas City, they played with many well-known artists, including Stephen Stills, Bruce Springsteen, Black Sabbath, and Jerry Garcia.

They turned out six albums in the late 60s and 70s, and then another three in the 90s. Of all the music they’ve produced, however, One Toke Over the Line is, by far, the best known and most successful.

one toke over the line fax

  • Brewer&Shipley3One Toke Over the Line was released in 1970 from the album Tarkio. The album featured Paul Butterfield on electric guitar and Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar.
  • One Toke Over the Line spent 14 weeks on the US single charts, peaking at #10.
  • The first chapter of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, contains the chorus of One Toke Over the Line. Raoul Duke’s attorney, Dr. Gonzo, sings “One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line,” while the two of them drive to Las Vegas. The song is also included on the soundtrack of the movie.
  • One Toke Over the Line is also an addiction status in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV.
  • Mike said of the song:

We wrote that one night in the dressing room of a coffee house. We were literally just entertaining ourselves. The next day we got together to do some picking and said, ‘What was that we were messing with last night?’ We remembered it, and in about an hour, we’d written ‘One Toke Over the Line.’ Just making ourselves laugh, really. We had no idea that it would ever even be considered as a single, because it was just another song to us. Actually Tom and I always thought that our ballads were our forte.

  • Some radio stations refused to play this song because of the drug references, but not everyone understood that meaning. In 1971, the song was performed on the Lawrence Welk Show by a wholesome looking couple Gail Farrell and Dick Dale, who clearly had no idea what a toke was. Lawrence, at the conclusion of the performance of the song, remarked, without any hint of humor,  “There you’ve heard a modern spiritual by Gail and Dale.”  Mike and Tom heard about the performance and searched for the footage, but didn’t see it until the clip showed up on YouTube 2007 (see video clip below).
  • One Toke Over the Line lyrics.

one toke over the line – brewer and Shipley – 1970

one toke over the line – gail and dale – 1971

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