How Have Drugs Influenced Your Favourite Artists?

By Tommy Baird 

Spread The Word

Drugs have been part of music since the beginning

From way back, when shamans banged on drums and chanted in specific patterns to enter altered states of consciousness whilst on various psychedelic tryptamine containing plant matter, right up until the more commonly known genres of the (more) present day such as Jazz and Dance.

You might not know that surrounding Jazz music is a lot of herion addiction. Supposedly, all the big names in Jazz were using it, and it was considered the ‘cool’ thing to do at the time. Dance music of the early nineties went hand in hand with the cheap production of ecstasy tablets, though back in the seventies and eighties it seemed like the drug of choice was cocaine. A lot of the most well known and popular music to date will more than likely have a connection with drugs. Even some classics (The Stranglers- Golden Brown; Coldplay – Yellow) contain subtext about drugs which some might not know directly.

I think its pretty safe to say that drugs have changed the way music can be written and/or experienced. Many ground-breaking pieces of music has been created because of drugs, with, and without the writer being under the influence of them. Bands like The Doors (named after The Doors of Perception, a short book by Aldous Huxley) are well known for their recreational drug use. I’m sure Pink Floyd’s sound would be very different without the use of drugs.

Though if you have ever talked to Frank, you will know that drug mis-use can seriously harm you and others around you. I am in fact referring to being the cause of death of many influential musicians. Many of which could be seen as the kings or queens of the genres they represented.

Legend has it that Jimi Hendrix used to put LSD under his headband as he went on stage, and because of the heat of the stage lights, the Hotalent in his temple and showmanship in his sweat, the drug would be absorbed into his system allowing Jimi to quite possibly taste the sweet music coming from his fingertips and hitting the fret board. Though it is almost impossible to gain hard evidence of certain myths about drugs and musicians, they certainly make a great talking point.

The obvious conclusion to this piece is that music, it’s self, is a drug. A fix of its own only more likely to be fatal to you emotionally rather than physically (unless you’re trying to deafen yourself.) Scientists have found that the pleasurable experience of listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain important for more tangible pleasures. The new study also reveals that even the anticipation of pleasurable music induces dopamine release. The same is the case with food, drug, and sex cues. The study is from The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital — The Neuro at McGill University. Some have the idea that in the future the music and drugs will be mixed to create something new. Selected frequencies and tones will give you the effect of being under the influence of drugs. Though who knows what the future has in store for addicts and experimentalists. Please note that I am in no way trying to push drugs or indeed advocate them.

Check out the author’s fantastic music on the links below.


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