[78-L] Musicians and drug use (was) Charlie Shavers andMilt Kabak

Steven C. Barr stevenc at interlinks.net
Fri Apr 23 20:18:12 PDT 2010

From: "Cary Ginell" <soundthink at live.com>
> Not having first-hand experience in either drugs or in playing in jazz 
> groups, I can only report what I have been told. In my book on the life of 
> Terry Gibbs, Terry informed me about the rampant use of hard drugs in 
> bands he played in; most notably the Buddy Rich and Woody Herman groups. 
> According to Terry: "Most of the guys in Buddy's band were hooked on hard 
> drugs, mostly heroin and morphine." Much is made in my book of drug use in 
> the Herman band (the second Herd), including legends like Stan Getz, Serge 
> Chaloff, Red Rodney, Earl Swope, Lou Levy, and Shorty Rogers. I can't 
> speak for other bands in other eras, but Terry's stories were quite 
> frightening and sad. Many others he knew, such as Chubby Jackson, loved to 
> smoke a joint now and then. Jackson even smuggled pot inside his bass when 
> he took a quintet to play Sweden in 1947.
> "Before we left New York, Chubby had his bass maker take his bass apart 
> and put in about three or four bags of pot. He rigged it so we could take 
> it out of the F-hole and Chubby rationed it out to Frank Rosolino, Conte 
> Condoli, Lou Levy, and me. We were the only ones who smoked pot, along 
> with Chubby. I don't think Denzil Best ever did. We would smoke it before 
> we went out on stage. After we smoked all the pot that Chubby rationed out 
> and had nothing left, we were kind of bugged. Somebody got a brainstorm 
> and thought that maybe some of the pot might have trickled out into the 
> bottom of Chubby's bass. So we put a bunch of newspapers on the floor and 
> took turns shaking the bass. Conte and Lou would shake the bass, and then 
> Frank and I would follow them. We smoked whatever came out; all the 
> rotgut, dust, and funk. We smoked all that garbage and got sick. We smoked 
> half a Kaye bass, which wasn't a very good bass to start with."
> Just because you didn't see much of it doesn't mean it wasn't there. Drugs 
> pervade every aspect of our society. You are right that jazz should not be 
> singled out as being equated with drug use, but for many groups, 
> especially in the bop world, it was the norm and not the exception.
A very good friend...and excellent blues guitarist...of mine, from c;.1983-4 
until I moved
out here to Oshawa (a "blues-free zone...?!") used (and I assume STILL does, 
since he
isn't dead?!") to smoke a "joint" before gigs, and then during each 
intermission! Note
that this was "current" pot...which is many times stronger than what I 
indulged in back
in the late sixties...??

Keep in mind that the "pot" of earlier days is NOT what is available...and
indulged in...in this day and age! In fact,k I wouldn't at all mind finding 
source for "ditchweed" (low-energy "pot"), just to re-enjoy my old "habits"
of putting a favourite LP on my player...and settling down with "Qat," my
Siamese, in my lap for a restful interlude...?!

Steven C. Barr 

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