Drugs In The Music Industry Essay, Research Paper
Drugs in the Music Industry
The Music World-glamorous, fast paced, and a world most of us will never
be part of. But if we knew what it entailed, would we still want to be? The
whole world seems to be building itself around drugs more and more every day,
and music industry isn’t immune. In fact, music is one of the most influential
art forms of today’s society, and drugs, especially to today’s youth, just add
to the attractiveness of it all.
In the last two or three years, drugs, especially heroin, have risen in
use dramatically. Kurt Cobain was the most high-profile drug-related rock star
since the 1970’s and was still battling heroin addiction when he committed
suicide in 1994. Along with him, his wife Courtney Love made it fashionable to
be a “junkie”. In the last year, Stone Temple Pilot’s singer Scott Weiland and
Depeche Mode singer David Gahan, among others, have been arrested for cocaine or
heroin possession. The number of top bands that have been linked to heroin
through a member’s overdose, arrest, admitted use or recovery is staggering:
Smashing pumpkins, Everclear, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre, Blind Melon, Red Hot
Chili Peppers, The Breeders, Alice in Chains, Sex Pistols, Sublime, Iggy Pop,
the list goes on and on. Together, these bands have sold more than 60 million
albums(Newsweek pgs 50 & 53).
Since kids emulate popular musicians, what is there to keep them from
emulating their drug use? Moreover, what’s to keep the majority of the
population from doing the same? In the 60’s and 70’s, drug use was never spoken
of nor did anyone admit that it was a problem. Nowadays, there is not a person
in the world who hasn’t heard about the rising drug use. But what are they
doing about it? Back in the 80’s, higher prices, the fear of contracting AIDS,
and lower purity kept drugs out of the mainstream. Now, drugs are cheaper and
easier to get then ever, being imported into the country at double the rate it
was in the 1980’s. Unfortunately, the outsider’s view of drug use isn’t the
harsh reality. Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, and Charlie Parker are among the
many to die from heroin and other drug addictions. Drugs seem to make you a
funnier, wiser, cooler person, but what the younger generation fails to realize
is that they are fatal.
Despite this, drug use continues to soar. People mistakenly think that
drugs, if taken a certain way, aren’t addictive, when even marijuana, thought to
be a harmless “high”, has been found addictive.
The fear is that drug use is becoming another trend. The streets of
Seattle are cluttered with young people who have moved there just to do heroin
just like Kurt Cobain did-all this at a time when the people in the Seattle
music scene claim that drug use among musicians is tapering off (Newsweek p 54).
Smashing Pumpkins fired drummer Jimmy Chamberlin after finding that he
was addicted to heroin along with late keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin. This was
definitely a step in the right direction, although they may have done it for
the public acclaim. But will other bands follow? If they did, there wouldn’t
be any musicians left. Nonetheless, the Smashing Pumpkins didn’t lose their
place on the top ten charts. They didn’t get pushed into the trash pile, and if
they survived, who’s to say that no one else will?
People speculate that the pressures of success put a strain on
musician’s lives and push them to use drugs to feel better about themselves, but
they’re not really very different from normal people. Musicians are just common
people who play music. Drug addicts are all people, and names don’t matter.
Contrary to popular belief, musicians aren’t royalty to be worshipped and looked
up to. They breathe in and out just as normal human beings and have no more
reason to give into the temptation of drug use than we do.
The natural tendency for people is to be accepted and to feel wanted.
We take risks just to look better and more courageous than our peers because
we’re competing for popularity due to their own insecurities. The younger
generation is the most impressionable of today’s world, and they do what they
see as fashionable and “in”. This doesn’t mean that adults don’t join in on
this competition. Each person’s job or company has to be bigger and better than
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, best known for it’s commercials
on television, now worries that heroin will be the drug of the 90’s, and that
musicians, as well as movie stars, are helping to make it so. Earlier this
summer, the organization aired another shocking commercial. Showing images of
junkie music celebrities and anecdotes about middle-class drug use, this was the
most expensive campaign ever against drug use. Is this getting the attention
that it deserves? Sadly, people still continue doing drugs.
What makes drug use so popular? Is it the fact that people have found a
way to escape their problems, or that everywhere you look someone famous is
doing it. If people took the time to ask about the effects that drug use has
after being used continuously for log periods of time, they would find that it
isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Dave Navarro, guitarist for the Red Hot
Chili Peppers, said that he started doing drugs at the age of 15 to relive his
pressures after his mother died. Now a recovered addict, he says that heroin
ruined his dreams and turned his career from the thing he wanted most into the
thing he wanted to get away from (Newsweek p 65).
Many think that the lives of musicians are easy because they are wealthy,
popular, and sublimely happy. Being rich and famous isn’t all it’s cracked up
to be. They lead normal lives, have kids and pay bills just as we do, but this
is still no excuse to put your life into your own hands.
The music industry may be finally facing up to the truth that drug abuse
has become a serious problem, though. The National Academy of Recording Arts
and Sciences gathered in 1996 to discuss what could be done about it. The sense
of crisis has been growing since Kurt Cobain committed suicide, blamed at least
partly on his heroin abuse.(Time p57)Expressions of concern are easy to come by,
but the chances for meaningful industry action are less clear. Record
executives refuse to be drug police, especially in a society where drug abuse
has long been accepted, and even condoned, as part of the creative process.
Geffen Records has retained a drug counselor for it’s musicians who seek
help. (Time p 58). But the industry must recognize that pressure from the
label to keep tutoring and recording can blow a drug problem out of proportion.
It is a minimal step, but at least a start toward trying to keep musicians
healthy, productive, and alive.