I woke up to the news of Scott Weiland’s passing. As a kid that grew up heavily influenced by grunge, it truly feels like the end of an era now. Most of them are dead. From drugs.
I can’t really say I’m surprised that he’s dead early, but it doesn’t make it any less sad. It’s hard to see someone struggle and lose to their demons, whether it’s a substance, mental illness, or something else. Facing reality is hard for some people.
Drugs and music have been connected for centuries. It’s really only been in the last 10-15 years that there’s been an increased awareness among musicians that it’s really not a good idea to do them, nor do you need them to produce your best work.
I’ve had friends overdose and nearly die, and acquaintances actually die. I have many friends that feel they can’t really be in a public setting without having a few drinks in them. I have too many friends that simply don’t know when to stop.
In some ways, I feel like I’m not qualified to talk about something like this, because I’ve never personally been through it, and there’s not really a family history of it. Very little, at least. However, I’ve been the bystander to enough of it, that I guess I can.
Anyway, here’s a very abridged list of why, if you’re a working musician, it’s a bad idea to do drugs.
1. They’re expensive. Musicians tend to start out very poor. We have to watch every dollar. Why be poorer?
2. They don’t fix your problems. Sure, they’re really great for masking reality and making you feel really great for a short period of time, but your problems will always be there until you solve them.
3. Your music suffers. Contrary to what your drug-addled brain might think, you actually suck when you’re high, and it’s obvious to EVERYONE. It’s disrespectful to your craft, to your audience, and to the entire industry, but mostly to yourself.
4. (Career) size matters. I know. Most people that adore Jimi, Jim, Janis, John, Kurt, Keith, Billie, Layne, Amy, et al. know them for their wonderful work but careers cut short due to drugs. Half the reason they are as famous as they are posthumously is because they died early. Wouldn’t you want to be know for a long and fruitful career of brilliance, instead of one where you were shitwrecked for most of it? Imagine how much more brilliant Jimi could’ve become if he cleaned up, or Kurt if he took the courageous step of facing his demons. We would all be better off.
5. Health. I mean…
Conclusion: while I admire the straight-edge lifestyle, I’m not advocating it. I’m advocating a conscious decision to think before you consume. Understanding the implications of your decisions goes far beyond drugs. It’s just a good skill to have for navigating life’s perilous twists and turns.
RIP Scott. Damn shame.
Our last show of the year is a special holiday unplugged show at the Lovecraft Bar In the East Village on Saturday, December 19 at 6pm. I’ll be doing a solo set as well, and we will have our friends Don Paris Schlotman and Wanderer’s Soul join us. It’s $5 to get in and 21+.