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Thread: herion and jazz musicians

  1. #1
    Registered User dandan's Avatar
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    herion and jazz musicians

    why have so many brilliant artists gotten into this stupid deadend? any thoughts

  2. #2
    www.jakehanlon.com Jakeweiser's Avatar
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    Drugs are Drugs. It's happened throughout history in all forms of music where artists fall to adiction. Heroine seemed to be the choice of beboppers because of the influence Parker and on the society of Jazz musicians at the time. It was not the only drug and I would venture to say Booze and SMoking was the demise of far more artists in jazz then Smack could have ever claimed. However, it is romantisized somewhat by Historians and writers that it was some epidemic in the jazz community.

    You look at all the musicians that killed themselves through drugs. Some sort of emotional hole in their life probably feeling somewhat empty in some ways for sacrificing so much of themselves towards their arts that they try to fill emotional or spiritual holes that they did not develop in their youth when they were instead practicing or on tour or being told their whole life they were genious'. When you are on the road the temptations are all there... where do you go after a gig, up to the bar for a beer. 5 beers later someone offers you a joint.... why not... joints move onto other things if you are not careful of controlling yourself, and if you live on the road, it's a life of excess of access.

    The music industry will always be in the shadow of the narcotics industry, it's part of the romantic aspect of the life style. Sex Drugs and Rock n Roll used to be Sex Drugs and Bebop. Nothing has changed really.
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  3. #3
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    ^True... the congressman who led the outlawing of marijuana claimed that because black jazzmen smoked it that they would rape white women because of it.
    "When I die I want them to play The Black and Crazy Blues, I want to be cremated, put in a bag of pot and I want beautiful people to smoke me and hope they get something out of it." - Roland Kirk

  4. #4
    Mr. PC Paul Chambers's Avatar
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    Black musicians, especially in the days of the 50s and before, got suppressed by rassistical whites who thought they are something better then this musicians who were seen as poor entertainers. Take the example of Miles Davis, coming back to the states after being loved in Paris by the people who respected him and his music. He got depressed, and the end of it was that he was hooked on heroin. Many died on their drug addiction, but most of these musicians, for example Art Blakey, Jackie McLean, Stan Getz, John Coltrane or also Miles Davis survived with taking the nail away. Life goes on...
    "Paul Chambers is one of the greatest bass players in jazz. His playing is beyond what I could say about it. The bass is such an important instrument, and has so much to do with a group and a solist can best function that I feel very fortunate to have had him on this recording dates and to have been able to work with him in Miles Davis' band so long."

    - John Coltrane -

  5. #5
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    Black / White Heroin

    Perhaps there has been too much emphasis on this post about black jazz musicians and heroin addiction. Proportionately there were just as many white jazz musicians in the 40s and 50s (the era of addiction) as there were black ones. Most of the musicians who paid their dues with Stan Kenton got hooked - Stan Levey, Art Pepper, et al. Ditto the guys in Woody Hermans bands - Getz, Sims. Later on there was Charlie Haden and Bill Evans. The list is unfortunately a very long one. Why? According to Pepper's biography it had to do with depression. And peer pressure. Maybe in the case of Evans it was a shyness combined with the peer pressure in Miles' group. The junky thing seemed to run out of steam in the 60s.

    I understand Art Blakey used heroin until the very end of his life, or close to it.

  6. #6
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    It's hard to say why so many jazz musicians have succumbed to drug addiction over the years, but they were certainly in close proximity to dealers in the heady nightlife atmosphere in which they often work.

  7. #7
    Chronic Jazzaholic
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    End to pain

    Heroin is a painkiller, simple as that. When societal pains are unbearable, some artists seek it for relief.
    "Jazz is freedom. You think about that." --- Thelonious Monk

  8. #8
    Registered User Johnny Murgatroyd's Avatar
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    Almost every jazz musician immediately after world war 2 was a heroin addict at some stage - black or white.

    You've got to realise that heroin suddenly appeared on the scene without warning, as organised crime sought a new way to make profits without prohibition.

    The Mafia targeted black neighbourhoods, because white policemen were more willing to overlook dealing to blacks. So Jackie McLean reports seeing mafia guys hanging around pharmacies literally handing out free heroin to black schoolchildren, telling them they knew where to get more if they wanted it

    Therefore all the things we know about drugs today were literally not known then. There was no accurate widespread knowledge of the nature of drug addiction. Not like now, when people are much more aware. It was just a bit of fun to them. To most people "dope" would only have meant "marijuana".

    Later on, when Charlie Parker died, many jazz musicians were frightened into quitting.

  9. #9
    Registered User gjudd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Balicat
    ....According to Pepper's biography it had to do with depression. And peer pressure....
    I'm reading Straight Life right now. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who loves jazz - provided they love it enough to appreciate it for all that may come with it.

    Pepper was - how shall we say? - an 'unusual' individual. While he may have included depression and peer pressure in his litany of woes, circumstances, and baldfaced lies about why he lived his life the way he did, I'd caution against taking anything he and his wife wrote 'straight'.

    many posters have identified relevant external factors that may have spurred heroin use among mid-20th century jazz musicians. Pepper's autobiography suggests that in more than a few cases personal makeup probably played a significant and complex role as well.

  10. #10
    Harold Smith Art
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    Quote Originally Posted by dandan
    why have so many brilliant artists gotten into this stupid deadend? any thoughts
    I had an uncle who played in that era....from what I understand, heroin in the NYC jazz community was like Don King to the heavyweight boxing division.

    If you were to be considered "in", you had to partake. Some people would not associate with you or play with you if you were not doing heroin. Like some boxers would not box you unless Don King promoted your fights.
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  11. #11
    www.jakehanlon.com Jakeweiser's Avatar
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    certainly that makes sense. It's a matter of trust or honor in theives. Drug users don't want to generally associate with non-users especially if you're in a tight nit society such as being a Jazz musician. You have to be able to Trust your band mates that they won't turn you into the cops for example. If you're not using and your entire band is using, they're not going to trust you sort of thing.

    That's the peer pressure. It's an amazingly powerful tool don't you think? It still works today in our world despite being raised to not give into it. It happens every day. The more things change the more they stay the same.
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  12. #12
    Harold Smith Art
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakeweiser
    certainly that makes sense. It's a matter of trust or honor in theives. Drug users don't want to generally associate with non-users especially if you're in a tight nit society such as being a Jazz musician. You have to be able to Trust your band mates that they won't turn you into the cops for example. If you're not using and your entire band is using, they're not going to trust you sort of thing.

    That's the peer pressure. It's an amazingly powerful took don't you think? It still works today in our world despite being raised to not give into it. It happens every day. The more things change the more they stay the same.
    I teach high school. You'd be amazed at the number of students who can write like Steinbeck or Hemingway but choose to write like Tupac or 50 Cent because it is what their peers expect.

    Thank God we still have the "nerd" table in the cafeteria where the Bohemians sit and refuse to partake in the peer pressure game.
    http://www.smithjazzart.com

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