It was 53 years ago today (February 12th, 1967) that the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were arrested at Richards' West Sussex, England home for drug possession. The bust followed Donovan's arrest by the same drug squad, led by Norman Pilcher, the previous year, and sparked not only public debate within the rock community, but also within the underground and conservative press. Eric Clapton reportedly escaped arrest by Pilcher — who rang his doorbell pretending to be a mailman — by fleeing from his back door.
Jagger and Richards, along with Jagger's then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull and various friends, including photographer Michael Cooper — who shot the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover — art dealer Robert Fraser, and George and Pattie Harrison, were partying after a Stones recording session at Richards' country estate, Redlands.
According to the Stones, the raid was a set-up by the British newspaper The News Of The World, which had earlier reported that Jagger had taken LSD at a party thrown by the Moody Blues. Jagger immediately began legal proceedings against the paper for slander. According to Bill Wyman's 1990 autobiography Stone Alone, an informant reported the details of Richards' party to The News Of The World, who in turn told the London drug squad. The arresting officers waited until after the Harrisons left the party to charge the house, presenting Richards with a warrant issued under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1965.