English 11B, Period 3
04 June 2012
Drugs and the Music Industry
Throughout the years, drugs and music have been as synonymous as America and baseball. Especially within the past 50 years, this nation has experienced the birth, and death, of many genres of music due to rampant drug use. Sure, we all know that drugs are bad for you and that if you abuse them, they will eventually lead to your death, but these substances have created music that has inspired millions around the world, and who is to say that is a bad thing? We have all benefited in one way or another from a musicians use of mind altering chemicals or in some cases, plants, and this is an undeniable fact.
Drugs have had an overall positive impact on the music industry. They have inspired, enlightened, expanded, and even destroyed the minds of some of Americas best musicians. However, no matter what happens to the musician, the drug fueled music that they have made lives on forever to inspire later generations of youth to join the revolution and create something worthwhile. Whether it be jazz, rap, rock, electronic, or even modern day pop, as long as people are out there creating music, there will be a new type of drug to fuel the fire.
The history of drug use started with jazz musicians and their use of heroin, and led to the counterculture movement and their avocation of psychedelic drugs and marijuana. This in turn brought about the punk movement, who took drug use to an extreme that was not seen before. Although this drug use positively effects the musical aspect, it does destroy the lives of those who choose to take the risk. Many musicians have lost their lives to drug use which shows the fine line between just drug use, and drug abuse. Despite all the negatives, drugs have had a positive impact on the American music industry over the past 100 years.
The whole thing started with a little thing called jazz. Down south and in the streets of Harlem, many famous jazz musicians were known to be hard drug users whose drug of choice was heroin. This drug could keep you up for days upon end with little to no food, allowing for hours and hours of practice and time to write beautiful works of art. (Winick) Famous musicians such as Ray Charles, Miles Davis, and Hank Mobley all were using this "hip" drug and their influence led to not only just other musicians using it to increase their playing abilities but also to the everyday listener. This caused a problem in the jazz community as more and more people were falling victim to this drug for all the wrong reasons.
People were becoming hooked on this new jazz sensation. “In those days, people did not know the overwhelming addictive powers of heroin. The mistake they made was trying it just once. After they tried it, they were hooked, and the creativity part of it was no longer. It simply became an addiction.” (Winick) Once the creativity aspect left the equation, it just became another drug to be abused. However, almost all popular music to this day have heavy roots and jazz, which just goes to show that although it destroyed lives, the music created was greatly influential.
Next came the infamous counterculture, the hippie movement of the 1960's. This generation of peace and love highly advocated the use of marijuana and psychedelics such as LSD, mushrooms, mescaline, peyote, and MDMA. These drugs definitely showed up in the music of the decade. Bands such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and many others all took these psychedelics and entered a sort of trance that increased their composing and lyrical abilities. (Gillespie) Some people say that even in order to fully understand this music, one must be under the influence of some sort of drug. Since a lot, but not all, of the drugs that were done during this time period were not addictive, everyone seemed to be enjoying this movement without any inference. Much of the music created during this time period...