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 musicfirst came into being in the early 20th century, and the word wasfirst 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.However, jazz has always seemed to attract addictive personalities.The annals of jazz history are loaded with names synonymous with great music and addiction.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.Alcoholism and drug addition bedeviled so many jazz musicians that the music came to be known for its grand beat and rhythm, but for its interest in addiction, too.One writer notes, “Historically, drug addiction seems to go hand-in-hand with jazz.Drug stories about Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Chet B…


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