“Some of them were very good drugs. They work for the moment. I hear even some extroverts like them. All my heroes are drug addicts so it was very easy for me. Saying ‘I’m an artist’ is a great device when you are in total denial. You say let’s talk about Baudelaire, Henry Miller, WC Fields, John Barrymore, blah, blah, blah. But all these people ended up rather tragically. Drugs work for a while and then they don’t work any more.” – Ex-addict Dennis Hopper, who at his peak would get through three grams of coke a day
I read this article called “Charlie and the Music Factory,” by Peter Paphides from Time Out, October 29, 1997 (which is where the Hopper quote came from). I came across it in a book called The Mammoth Book of Sex Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll, which I highly recommend if you find this blog’s topics of interest. It really hit on the impact of drugs on musical creativity, and the (inseparable) result on the life of those producing the creativity. (As I’ve said in related posts, I’m not entirely denouncing drugs, but I’m certainly not encouraging them.)
Paphides makes the valid point in the article, “Imagine being in a band. Really imagine it: three months at a time away from your loved ones; ten hours on a coach from Washington to Buffalo, trying to while away the hours; the pressure of knowing you’re only as good as your last album. How would you get through?”
This goes with the idea of “celebrity is a form of isolation,” which I wrote about here. It really is. Your extremes are more pronounced than you ever could have imagined. The attention is daunting, but when it’s gone, it’s even more daunting.
Drugs seem a logical choice.
From the same article, Robin Guthrie, guitarist in Cocteau Twins provides his input on cocaine.
“We started doing it in 1988, I think around the time of Blue Bell Knoll. By the time I wanted to stop, everything in my life was based around getting drugs. Music was a by-product, something I did because I was too wired to go home. So I’d stay in the studio for five days. It was worse than death. With death you can switch off. I thought parenthood might straighten me out, but I was dealing with a more powerful force. That’s where you realize – when you’re sitting bollock naked in your living room at 6 a.m. in the middle of winter with all the windows open, and this little girl comes in and says, ‘Dad, are you all right’?”