Jazz and Drugs Over Time

Length: 6 Pages 1464 Words

Jazz and Drugs Over Time The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the topic of drug abuse and alcoholism during the jazz age. Specifically, it will discuss the history of abuse and its' effects on musicians and the music itself. Jazz music has a long and varied history in the United States, and unfortunately, it has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse among performers, too. This abuse helped give jazz an undeserved reputation among many listeners, but it also created a sub-culture among performers that has been difficult to overcome. Jazz is more than music and enticing rhythms, jazz is a state of mind for many, and that may be why so many jazz musicians and performers alter their states of mind with alcohol and drugs. Jazz music first came into being in the early 20th century, and the word was first noted around 1913 (Teachout 58). A jazz writer notes, "That word jazz is ambitious… The origin of the word is uncertain. The term has been applied also to noisy proceedings, to loud writing, to eccentric and discordant coloring'" (Osgood 10). Often performed by black musicians, jazz played a part in the Harlem Renaissance in New York, and remains one of the most popular forms of music today. Continue...

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He died of a bleeding ulcer at the age of thirty-four, and the jazz world lost a great musician in his prime. Heroin and other drugs took their toll on the jazz world. He was bothered by an ulcer and his doctor warned of a possible heart condition (Gioia 231). A darker quality now pervades the music; at times, a sense of despair infuses the performances" (Gioia 181). Author Osgood does not mention drug or alcohol abuse in his 1926 book, "So This is Jazz," but he does mention the fears of Americans. He writes, "Jazz is not necessarily the gateway to hell. One long-time musician says, "'I think that drugs are still fashionable with jazz musicians,' Peterson says. ... Her voice clearly showed the signs of strain, of wear. Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Serge Chaloff, Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans are just a few of the jazz names associated with drug abuse, and many, many more musicians abused alcohol because it was so prevalent in the clubs they played. Young people were breaking away from tradition, and jazz, with its disapproval by many, was tantalizing and forbidden, and thus, quite appealing. Sadly, alcohol abuse was extremely widespread in jazz musicians, partly because liquor was so prevalent in the clubs and venues they played, even during Prohibition. In conclusion, alcohol and drug addiction has played a major part in jazz music from the very beginning. But I see guys with that "I don't care whether you know" attitude, which was my battle cry'" (Koransky 48). Beiderbecke died at the age of twenty-eight of pneumonia, brought on by severe delirium tremens. His once taut figure now took on a bloated aspect, and he tipped the scales at over two hundred pounds.


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