Hubert Humphrey might be the most popular mayor in the history of Minneapolis, and if not, he's certainly the most popular mayor of Minneapolis who later became a U.S. Senator, Lyndon B. Johnson’s vice president, and namesake of an airport terminal.
The fast-talking pgrogressive is maybe best known for throwing down on behalf of the Civil Rights movement at the 1948 Democratic National Convention, pleading for the party (then home to many Dixiecrats) to make this issue a part of its platform.
Humphrey also pushed for school aid, advocated for a health insurance program that, many years later, would become Medicare, and did some landmark nuclear disarmament work.
…But what you might not know about Humphrey is that the guy who wrote "Mony Mony" slipped him some uppers one time.
That would be musician Tommy James, who also brought us such hits as "Crimson & Clover" and "I Think We're Alone Now." In an interview with Goldmine (“the music collector’s magazine”) about his tell-all book, Me, the Mob, and the Music, he mentioned having hung out with Humphrey a little on the 1968 presidential campaign trail.
“We were to meet him in Wheeling, West Virginia, after the Democratic Convention,” James recalled. He told Goldmine the politician “couldn’t have been nicer.” He and Humphrey ended up hitting it off and doing the whole campaign together.
“He asked me to become presidential adviser on youth affairs if he won,” he said. Humphrey even supplied the liner notes for the Crimson & Clover album.
And, in return, James “slipped him a Black Beauty.”
One night, James explained, after a rally, Humphrey had called the band up to his suite as usual. He complained to James that he was “downright drowsy” after all the excitement, but he still had to stay up late and write. James generously offered him what he called some “stay-awake pills” that he had in his pocket.
“’Well,' he asked, ‘do you think a thing like that would work?’ I said, ‘I think it would, Mr. Vice President. I take it when I have to stay up late composing.’”
He would later admit that this was a terrible, terrible idea.
“Oh man, you do not want to know Hubert Humphrey on speed!” James said – making a broad assumption we have no choice but to contradict here.
But, he added, more to the point: “I could’ve been arrested. I always felt bad about that.”
Humphrey turned out to be fine, but he later complained to James of the pill: “That darn thing kept me up all night.”
“I’ve never really told that story,” James said. “But with an autobiography out, I guess you’ve got to tell on yourself.”
Humphrey, who died in 1978, wound up winning his party’s nomination in a race marred by the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and a violent, chaotic Democratic National Convention. He eventually lost to Richard Nixon, who seized on the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War and rioting in the streets to reach the so-called "silent majority."
But for at least one night, Humphrey had momentum, the friendship of a hit pop star, and, so we're told, a heaping helping of speed in his bloodstream.