Somehow the other day, while listening to crowd neutral satellite radio on a business trip, a Frank Zappa song came on.
I love Frank Zappa, it was a normal song and I knew only one person in the escort would know him. So I burst out my love for the man singing the song.
My friend responds about how he was weird and a druggy. I confidently announced that despite all odds, Zappa was no druggy. I know, the 60's, LSD... most of his music, if you've heard it. Sounds like a bold faced lie. He was actually a great composer who studied classical music and crafted mathematically complex compositions framed into musical stylings of the time.
Yet anyone familiar with this man now or then would insist he was so high on drugs he must have thought he was on another planet at first glance. His kids have weird names. He had a weird sense of humor and his music is 'different' with odd timing and themes. and not always even 'music'.
Well there's a reason he still, to this day, is referenced as an influence by most serious musicians.
----Music and drugs often do not go together. Music and success in the industry often do not go together. ----
So many examples can be named but here are a few successful, and maybe surprising, examples of those who made it clean and made it big:
1. Gene Simmons
2. Angus Young of AC/DC
3. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
4. Bruce Springsteen
5. Jennifer Hudson
6. Frank Zappa
7. Morrissey of The Smiths
8. Henry Rollins of Black Flag
9. Rage against the Machine
NOTE these aren't guys that sobered up and got clean. These are peeps that got their genius clean as a whistle. MUSIC WAS ENOUGH!!
This site trend youthful so I really thought I might take a moment to point out that music and drugs really don't even correlate.
Pain and drugs correlate and maybe that gives some artists easy subject matter. Fiona Apple, Kurt Cobain, Trent Reznor, Tool. They have pain and that's visceral, it shares a comorbidity with substance abuse. Talented people with a story that would have been just as talented with a story in absence of use.
Most musicians I know perform sober for recordings and with only a few beers live when it's an important show. Their lives are together.
Alcohol or drugs only hamper the writing and creative process in most cases. LSD and the sort does make for some interesting lyrics as we saw expressed in the 70's and that's fine. Nonaddictive substance.
I see kids and grown adults sometimes indulging in risky behaviors such as overdrinking or just pissing off the production company for crowd appeal and it isn't worth it.
Persona and brand only go so far and wear thin without substance. So build on the substance of who you are and not the ones that will ultimately eat you away.