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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 next.

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.


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