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Rock and Narcotics


Apart from sex and rape, rock music encourages drug abuse. As far back as 1969, Time magazine (September 26) commented, "Rock musicians use drugs frequently and openly and their compositions are riddled with references to drugs." Songs such as Velvet Underground's "Heroin" helped encourage some young people to experiment with drugs, not infrequently with tragic consequences (John Cale, Spin, May 1990 p. 30).

As reported in Life magazine, (October 3, 1969), Jimi Hendrix, whose basic philosophy was one of unbridled sex and drug use, commented, "You can hypnotize people with music and when you get them at their weakest point, you can preach into the subconscious what we want to say."

But many famous rock stars have paid a price for their drug abuse. Among the dead are Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Elvis Presley, Janice Joplin, Bon Scott of AC/DC, Frankie Lymon, Tim Harden, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzie and many others could be mentioned. The day this booklet was finished the lead singer for the Temptations, David Ruffin, died from a cocaine overdose. But in spite of this, drugs still play a prominent role in rock music and this seems to have a harmful effect on many who listen.

For example, one study in Post Graduate Medicine concluded that "evidence shows that such [rock] music promotes and supports patterns of drug abuse, promiscuous sexual activity and violence" (King, "Heavy Metal Music" of Wass et. al., Adolescents Interest, p. 82).

The personal and social tragedy of modern drug abuse is simply unimaginable, and yet rock music continues to glorify drug use. In fact, it can be argued that rock music must assume a large share of responsibility for the modern drug epidemic. As in the area of human sexuality, rock musicians are failing to uphold their responsibilities, Steven Tyrler of Aerosmith noted in Sober Times (Oct. 1988, p. 2). Notwithstanding the fact that drug abuse presents a huge problem in our contemporary society, rock music continues to encourage this. It is time that society leaders understood that rock music carries a significant amount of blame for the current narcotic abuse.

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