Who Was Doctor Robert?

Who Was Doctor Robert?

Who Was Doctor Robert?

Who was the drug pushing doctor in the Beatles song “Doctor Robert”?

Many Londoners in the 60s speculated the real Dr. Robert was gallery owner Robert Fraser. Fraser was a friend of the Beatles who was also known as “Groovy Bob” for his endless supply drugs.

Then there was the now famous story of the Dentist who slipped Lennon and Harrison their first hits of LSD in cups of coffee at a diner party. Could this drug-pushing Doctor have been inspiration for the story?

Aldous Huxley had a character named “Dr Robert” in his novel “Island”, which could have been read by Lennon, and may have given him inspiration for the name.

Some have speculated that it was “Bob (Robert Zimmerman) Dylan, because he was the one who turned the Beatles onto pot.

According to John Lennon in his 1980 Playboy Interview, “ It was about myself. I was the one that carried all the pills on tour… later on the roadies did it. We just kept them in our pockets, loose, in case of trouble.”

Paul McCartney said, “Well, he’s like a joke … about this fellow who cured everyone of everything with all these pills and tranquilizers, injections for this and that; he just kept New York high. That’s what ‘Doctor Robert’ is all about: just a pill doctor who sees you all right. It was a joke between ourselves, but they go in in-jokes and come out out-jokes because everyone listens and puts their own thing on it, which is great … You put your own meaning at your own level to our songs and that’s what’s great about them.” Paul also said, “ John and I thought that was a funny idea, the fantasy doctor who would fix you up by giving you drugs. It was a parody on that idea. It’s just a piss-take. There was a fashion for it. Change your blood and have a vitamin shot and you’ll feel better.”

Long-time Lennon-friend Pete Shotton seems to reveal more details saying, “John paid sardonic tribute to an actual New York doctor. His real name was Charles Roberts, with an ‘s’ – whose unorthodox prescriptions had made him a great favorite of Andy Warhol’s entourage, and indeed, of the Beatles themselves, whenever they passed through town. When John first played me the acetate of ‘Dr Robert’, he seemed beside himself with glee over the prospect of millions of record buyers innocently singing along.”

Who is Doctor Robert?

Me? Doctor Robert? Nonsense!

A Hard Day’s Write author, Steve Turner claims, “Dr. Robert was almost certainly Dr. Robert Freymann, a 60-year-old (at the time) German-born physician who had a practice on East 78th Street in New York City. (The ‘Dr. Charles Roberts’ cited in some Beatles books didn’t exist. It was an alias used by Jean Stein, the biographer of Andy Warhol actress Edie Sedgwick, to conceal the identity of another ‘speed doctor’.) Known as Dr. Robert or the Great White Father (he had a shock of white hair). Freymann was well connected with the city’s arts scene. He had helped, among others, Theolonius Monk and Charlie Parker (whose death certificate he signed in 1955), and had a reputation for being generous with amphetamines.”

Maybe several of these inspirations are partly true. Perhaps Lennon drew from several characters in his life when penning the lyrics to Doctor Robert. He’s a man you must believe, helping everyone in need.

What Do You Think?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Marie Henness

I always thought that Dr. Roberts represented those who were advocating the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs like LSD during that era. Such as psychologist Timothy Leary, who popularized the phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out”. . . Timothy Leary did know John Lennon. In fact Leary joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their Montreal Bed-In and Lennon subsequently wrote Leary a campaign song called “Come Together” for Leary’s candidacy for Governor of California, running against Ronald Reagan… just my neat little spin on it. However I am sure no one will ever know or sure who the real Dr. Robert is … well only the Fab 4 know for sure and they are not sharing ;)


Lisa Marie Henness

Another possible twist would fit for the part of the song :
” If you’re down he’ll pick you up, Doctor Robert
Take a drink from his special cup, Doctor Robert
Doctor Robert, he’s a man you must believe,
Helping everyone in need
No one can succeed like Doctor Robert ”

….. makes me think of Ken Kesey (the author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”) and his “electric kool-aid” parties. He frequently entertained friends and many others with parties he called “Acid Tests” involving music (such bands as the Grateful Dead), black lights, fluorescent paint, strobes and other “psychedelic” effects, and, of course, LSD. Making a punch out of Kool -aid and drugs …. maybe Dr. Roberts is a combination of Kesey and Leary two famous ICONS during that time who were so pro psychedelic drugs, and opening ones mind …. or maybe Dr. Roberts represents just psychedelic drugs in general …



Certainly Dr Robert was Robert Zimmerman, of course.


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