Drugs and music… Do they really mix well? For the record, I “do not” (nor have I ever) gotten high or intoxicated, so from a personal standpoint there is probably not much I can inject from experience. However, I HAVE worked for people who have been visibly “buzzed, blitzed or blasted” onstage… From my understanding a LOT of people equate most musicians with drug usage. In fact, there have been “many”times where people have come up to me inviting me to go “get high” with them. Of course, I declined each and every time (really, I did). Let’s look at some examples of some of the most famous music legends and their bad habits. Janis Joplin died a long time ago and I don’t know much about her career to know just how much of an effect drugs had on her but normally if you die from a heroin overdose then that means she probably did too much. I do remember the career of Marvin Gaye, and I remember seeing him perform on television where his eyes were “red as beets” and his mood was “overly mellow” during his performance. Getting high might have made the biggest different in how Marvin “wrote” his songs though. He wrote some “great” music and I would not be surprised if he did a lot of it while under the influence of something. I am not sure of how much drugs played in his actual onstage performance…. Amy Winehouse was someone who probably “benefitted” from the songs she wrote during the process of “being high.” Her music (and her lyrics, which often reflected her life) were “great” from the “written standpoint.” I never saw a live show of hers, but I’m sure she was probably drugged out on a couple of those. The late Phylis Hyman had some “really horrible shows” while she was drugged out onstage. I heard there were times when she cursed out everyone due to the state of her condition. Jimi Hendrix was a “phenomenal musician” who was so great that he probably contributed greatly to making “getting high” a popular pastime. Jimi could really play and his music was incredible. However, could he have been able to do just as well “without” drugs in his system? Whitney Houston was a prime example of how adversely drugs could have an impact on you. During the latter years of her career she went to some of her “lowest levels” of singing mainly because she was high onstage. Her voice deteriorated so badly that I saw a clip of the audience actually “booing her.” I remember years ago playing behind a classic singer by the name of Eddie Money. He had a hit song out entitled “Baby hold on to me.” He was a real nice guy during rehearsal and sound check. However, when it came time for the actual show he “appeared” to be “very inebriated.” Even under these conditions, he still managed to sing the songs though. I just don’t know if drinking helped him sing them better or just made him feel more relaxed (if he was, in fact drunk). One of the “greatest examples of a songwriter/performer whose performances and writing were “enhanced heavily by drug usage was Sylvester Stone. He was the leader of “Sly and the Family Stone.” He was a big advocate for getting high, and the success of his music “soared” from it. There are others (like the late Rick James) who also benefitted from drug usage until he died from a drug overdose. The question here is whether or not these artists could have done just as well “without” getting high. Writing music under the influence of some type of “enhanced euphoria” might have made the difference in a lot of tunes that became “hits.” However, getting high did not always guarantee the same results of success for everyone. Some artists shows were great while others faltered. I would hate to think that it should be a “prerequisite” for all musician songwriters to be under the influence when it comes to their music. With “so many” artists having their lives and their careers cut short due to overdoses of drugs it makes their careers such a travesty. Was it really necessary for them to jeopardize their lives for the sake of their music? Hopefully the stigma that is often associated with musicians fades with the newer generation. Hopefully some new star will learn from the unfortunate experiences of others. Otherwise we can pretty much guarantee the same end results. “Life… and music can be appreciated much, much better while sane and in your right mind.” My name is Brett Jolly, and I endorse this message… Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Dwele and Brett Jolly in concert