Jimi Hendrix died choking on his own vomit after getting so drunk he could barely make it back to his hotel room, Pinky Floyd guitarist Syd Barrett was accused of not playing at all during some performances because of his excessive LSD use, and Ozzy Osbourne snorted a line of ants.
“High off Music”
Regardless of whether or not you believe these musical tales of drug folklore, they all actually happened. The influences and impact that drugs had in the music world throughout the mid-to-late 20th Century are so clear and vivid they can’t be avoided whenever that musical era is explained. Some of the greatest songs, live performances, and albums came out of artists who either produced them while on some drug-induced high, or steered them down the path of music inspired by drugs themselves, with The Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, one of their most critically-acclaimed and fan-praised releases, being a case of the latter.
Then, of course, we have Woodstock, 1969’s, and arguably the entire Century’s, largest concert. The amount of psychedelic music to be played during that era was most certainly not in any shortage, and neither was the supply of drugs its goers were open to. Flower Power and other, wider cultural forces were sweeping across the country, promoting happiness and peace alike, and what better way to achieve as such than with substances that guarantee it, no matter how temporary? Woodstock signified the peak, as well as the end, of the hippie drug culture, taking the sixties out with a bang alongside the intensifying Vietnam War.
When we hit the eighties, we have the glamorizing cocaine-usage that punk rock and glam metal bands were undoubtedly subjecting themselves to. It’s no secret that Ozzy, Twisted Sister, and Van Halen were hefty over-indulgers of the drug. It’s even fabled that Ozzy, after making it big in Black Sabbath, had entire bowls of cocaine just lying around, there for whenever he felt like ingesting it like a child catching snowflakes on his tongue in a blizzard.
The nineties brought Nirvana, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, heroine, and marijuana. Nirvana specifically suffered heavily from the use of heroine, losing their lead-singer and front-man Kurt Cobain to an addiction-induced suicide in 1994 shortly after conquering the country. On the front of hip hop, Snoop Dogg has and will always continue to promote the use of marijuana. Being that a lot of hip hop music originated from the poorer neighborhoods and cities of the time as a way to give the lower class a more audible voice, drugs and other means of coping with the rough conditions were often mentioned in lyrics and rhymes. Of course, as was also the case with Nirvana and the many other popular bands of the time, such as Green Day and Alice in Chains, but no one tops New York City’s Run DMC or Los Angeles’s N.W.A. in the realm of narcotic-singing and police brutality ranting.