Narcotics and the Jazz Musicians Part Two

 

• KENTON: It’s hard for the average person who isn’t in creative work to know what a terrible insecurity exists within some one who has dared to be different, and you have to dare to be different if you’re going to create anything fresh To just conform and belong to a group in a pattern of living is not creativity. And believe me, when you deviate and move away from this group, and you start trying to do something fresh and create some new things, the insecurity can be terrifying. I’ve seen people just tremble – people that were creative – their very bodies showed this terrible fear. It’s awfully easy for someone to grab a drink sometimes to bolster himself, or even do other things sometimes to help beat this monster that really is a suffocating thing Every time I’ve ever met anyone in a creative field who was flamboyant and absolutely sure of himself, I’ve always discovered there really wasn’t any valid talent in his existence.


• PLAYBOY: We seem to be getting to something quite basic here, a feeling that the jazz musician – whose success hinges on a spontaneous feeling of creative well being – can’t always turn it on when the occasion demands. He may mistakenly believe that narcotics will provide the needed lift. He may also lean on drugs to bolster his self-confidence.


• MANNE: But I also think that musician have a tendency to place too much importance on what they are doing. Although music is very important – it certainly the most important thing in my life – I don’t think that a musician or anyone else, should take himself to seriously. I get as upset as anybody. I go into hibernation if I’m not playing good ; I feel like I just want to get away for a while and gather my thoughts. But you just don’t go out and get stoned. You can get a lift from other things besides drugs. I can get stoned on nature – getting away by myself, where there are no other musicians, no music – and get confidence that way.


• C. ADDERLEY: It takes a certain kind of individual to be a user of any kind drug.


• COHEN: Yes, a personality deficiency in certain individuals leads to drug addiction, and usually their personalities as pretty much the same. You can almost spot them. There is a specific pattern. That’s Cannonball’s point. There is no necessity that induces a man to become a narcotics addict. There is a psychological problem which weakens him t the point where he may think of narcotics as an escape mechanism for him.


• TAYLOR: When I was coming up, some of the very, very famous people were acknowledged dope addicts. And the common feeling among certain small groups of young musicians was that if you wanted to play like this guy you had to get high like he did.


• COHEN: I know a tragic case – of two high school students who started off with a band, and a musician who played the same instrument persuaded them they could improve, and become equal to the other men in the band, by using narcotics.


• TAYLOR: Today, if a guy is as aware a most young jazz musicians are, he realizes that any kind of addiction is sure death – it’s like suicide.


• PLAYBOY: Billy Taylor seems to be suggesting that the newer crop of young musicians may have a greater awareness of the dangers of addiction and may hence be wary of trying drugs. We know , too, that the go-to-hell attitude – the self-destructive attitude – of a dozen or so years ago provided a climate, even an excuse, for addiction, as though it were a romantic rejection of the mundane world. There are undoubtedly performing musicians today who fell under that earlier spell. Let’s hear what Dr. Charles, Winick, a research authority on drugs personality and addiction – and Director of the Musicians’ Clinic-has to say about this.


• Dr. WINICK: Even though a man may have gotten hooked in the early 1950s or the late 1940s, unless there has been some kind of intervention, some help, that man is still a heroin user today- and he’ll continue for another ten, fifteen years, because the life of a heroin user is about twenty-three years. Not too long ago one of the trade papers carried a front-page story about Buddy DeFranco. who was forming a trio, claiming that he wasn’t able to hire the other members of the trio without hiring a drug user. -And we all know that ten, fifteen years ago several well-known big bands broke up because of difficulties connected with narcotics. Now, what happened to these musicians? Most of them, I’m quite sure, are still taking heroin.



• GILLESPIE: Now you know about how many musicians I know – thousands and thousands. Well, right now I can’t think of over five, maybe six or seven musicians who I know are using heroin. And it gets around, because if you need a replacement in your band, and you say, “What do you think about so-and-so?” – one of your musicians will say, “You know, he’s messing around with it.” Because they don’t want the heat on them. Because there’s heat on everybody concerned when you have a guy who’s using stuff in the band.


• C. ADDERLEY: I’ll tell you something else you learn, too. On the road. Every town you go into, there’s like one guy you know to avoid, and if you see anybody in your band hanging out with him you tell him, “Wait a minute!” And these are not musicians, for the most part. They are hippies who hang out with musicians. Like once upon a time there used to be a crowd of guys who used to hang out in front of Birdland. Occasionally, if you walked up you might see two or three musicians mingling with ten or twelve guys, in various positions. You know what I mean – some in positions of ecstasy – the ecstasy-crouch.


• GILLESPIE: The guy who’s pushing this stuff, he doesn’t spend too much time with a guy that’s not going to buy. He’ll say “Hi” and “Hey, Daddy,” and that- and then he’ll cut on out and you’ll see him hanging out with the guy who’s using the stuff. And if it’s somebody in my band, I fire him on the spot A narcotics addict is not reliable. Because he’ll sell his mother. He’ll sell anybody – anybody – to get that stuff. He’ll lie and steal and cheat, and if you pay him five dollars over – if you make a mistake on the addition – you’ll never see that no more. And he’ll swear —


• C. ADDERLEY: That’s right, he’s got the soul in his voice all the time.


• HENTOFF: You’re talking as if this is more than just five or six guys, Diz.



• GILLESPIE: : Well, through the years – I’ve been playing for thirty years – I have had addicts in my band.


• C. ADDERLEY: Dizzy has been through the period when there were more narcotics addicts than there are now.


• GILLESPIE: But I remember when it was. practically non-existent among musicians


• HENTOFF: Like the late Thirties.


• GILLESPIE: Yeah. When I came to New York in 1936-1937, I didn’t know one musician who was an addict. And then we found out that one guy was using the stuff. We didn’t even know what it was


• HENTOFF: The question is, why are fewer guys getting hooked – I mean really hooked – now than around Forty-six ,Forty-eight, Forty-nine?


• GILLESPIE: There was one band around that time in which the whole saxophone section were junkies. And the young guys actually thought that the use of narcotics would help them.


• N. ADDERLEY: The fad is over.


• GILLESPIE: Nowadays every policeman can smell dope three miles away, and the guys are just scared. Also, a lot of our most talented jazz musicians are dead. And the young guys know that narcotics might not have been the main reason for their death, but it led to most of the deaths. So everybody, nowadays, is saying, “Wait a minute, let me count the gate receipts there.”
• C. ADDERLEY: Today you have heroes such as Dizzy or Stan Kenton or Count Basie – and young musicians go around saying, “Well, he ain’t doing nothing. He ain’t bent in no crouch, and he can play well.” That makes a big difference.


• GILLESPIE: I have been approached many, many, many times by young musicians who thought I was on. They’d come to my hotel room. I remember in Kansas City one time – this was when I had a big band, in 1946-1947 – two real young musicians, they were about sixteen or seventeen, no beards, no nothing – came up to my hotel room. They said, “Dizzy, I want you to take my address. After a while one of them went over in the corner and took off right its my hotel room! I tore up his address, and I told him, “Man, you better get out of my hotel room before I call the police.” They looked to be no more than sixteen or seventeen. Little boys, babies.


• C. ADDERLEY: That’s what happened to Horace Silver, pretty much the same thing – like he was riding down the street in Philadelphia in a car with several other musicians – among them a couple of guys who had been busted for using narcotics in Philadelphia – and besides, they had a white girl sitting up in the car, which means a cop is automatically going to stop them. So once the cop found Horace was in the car, he was harassed for a long time


• PLAYBOY : Is there a contradiction here? Until a moment ago you all seemed agreed that addiction among musicians was on the decrease “The fade is over.” Nat Adderley said. Yet now we’re talking about what sounds like harassment by the police – pointless harassment, if addiction has really became rare. Would you say that the police single out jazz musicians in making arrests for possession of narcotics?


• KENT0N: There is one particular drummer who used to play with the band and is really big in the field of jazz – he had the problem, but he straightened out and he beat the situation wonderfully well. But it’s miserable the way the police still stay after him, they keep looking at him – every time be turns around there’s someone who’s saying, “Let’s talk to you, let’s examine you ” and sometimes – he’s pretty patient with them, but every once in a while – you can just see this look on his face: “I wish everyone would leave me alone.”

• TAYLOR: I don’t think the police specifically single out jazz musicians. It’s just that they look down on nightclub entertainers as loose livers, high-life people, who make a lot of money fast and are irresponsible. This is fostered by the newspapers: all of show business is glamorous; all of the men hive five or six pretty girls around them, and all of the women have rich men around them. Life is just a big ball, twenty- four hours a day. And so the cop, whose work is hard and who has a family and can’t pay his bills, he bangs a few heads.


• GILLESPIE: But it’s not all show business that’s picked on. When I was in Philadelphia at Convention Hall, they wanted to search me. And I asked this policeman, “Well, OK, now, if you search me, do you, when Isaac Stern plays at the Academy of Music, do you go back and look for narcotics? Anti when Jascha Heifitz comes in there and plays at the Academy, do you go back and search him?” Well, they wind up not searching me because I said, “You can arrest me, but you can’t search me.


• C. ADDERLEY: On one occasion, Miles Davis raised a stink about being searched in Philadelphia. He was calling their all kinds of names and using profane language and cussing everybody out and he happened to say, just being smart, “Yeah, I shoot dope into my knees,” and the guy says, “You’re under arrest. You admitted using narcotics.’ And the lawyer had a tough problem to keep Miles from going to jail.


• PLAYBOY: Perhaps Max Cohen will tell us what the law is in such cases.


• COHEN: If there are no offenses being committed in the presence of an officer he has no right to search. Principle Number One in dealing with the police is – if you let them get away with it you’re a dead duck. If you stand up for your rights, they will not harass you. The police in some cities are very quid to make arrests. In l955 and 1954, in Philadelphia, there were 2,779 narcotic arrests, but only 963 convictions. In Los Angeles there were 12,461 arrests. Of those arrested, only 4,406 were convicted. In Los Angeles, they arbitrarily arrested two musicians and would not release them until they agreed to identify two other musicians who were drug user There was nothing even to indicate that the arrested musicians were drug user. Dizzy called me about it in New York. I called Joe Hyams, the Hollywood columnist, who is a client of mine. He called the chief of police and told him there would be trouble if these musician were not released. The whole process took less than a half hour, and these musicians were released.


• C. ADDERLEY: When Horace Silver protested, he was molested and was subjected to many indignities. He was awakened in his hotel room at five o’clock in the morning by the police, saying they they had permission to search the room and search him.


• HENTOFF: Has the American Civil Liberties Union or any of its regional groups ever come into a case like this? No.


• COHEN: None of the professional liberal organizations. and certainly, emphatically, never the musicians’ unions


• HENTOFF: Yes, let’s get this on record – that the American Federation of Musicians, including Locals 802 in New York and 47 in Los Angeles, has never, to my knowledge, done anything about this treating of musicians as fifth-class citizens by cops.


• N. ADDERLEY: I wonder if professional jazz musicians are often harassed simply because many of them are Negroes.


• COHEN: No, no.


• HENTOFF: Look, Max, a cop in any city, North or South, is apt to be harder on a Negro than on a white man, for what ever the offense.


• COHEN: I’m not naive, but when it comes to arrests, I believe there is as high a percentage of white musicians arrested as Negro musicians . . .


• GILLESPIE: Yeah, for hanging out with the colored musicians……


• COHEN: After all, there are more Negro musicians in the area of jazz than white musicians, so there may be a larger number of arrests of Negro musicians without being a disproportionate percentage.


• TAYLOR: The jazzman has always been tagged with the current vice of the times. In the Twenties the jazz musician was a drunkard. He was a jazz musician, therefore he was a drunkard. In the Thirties and early Forties, he was a jazz musician, therefore he used marijuana. In the later Forties and Fifties, into the Sixties, he’s a jazz musician, so he’s a dope addict.


• GIUFFRE: In the movies, every time they use a jazz mood or scene, they fill it with things that in the public eye are evil.


• C. ADDERLEY: Yes, and with any crime or immoral act – if there’s a musician involved, he’s automatically categorized as a jazz musician.


• N. ADDERLEY: A musician working in Lawrence Welk’s band – if he gets arrested, it’s going to come out, so help me, ”jazz musician.”

• GILLESPIE: And not only that, but a bebop musician! That gets me.


• C. ADDERLEY: This guitar player who was arrested down in Memphis two years ago for the murder of an entire family in Virginia – he was listed by all the wire services as a “jazz musician”.


• HENTOFF: The Daily News had it on the front page: WIFE DEFENDS JAZZMAN. I never heard of the guy.


• GILLESPIE: I was supposed to go on the Ed Sullivan show and about a week and a half before there was a big article about a bebop musician getting busted, and they started off the article, “Like his illustrious mentor” – me – and I didn’t know the guy. I’m supposed to be his teacher, and I don’t know him.


• HENTOFF: The Sullivan office said they were booked already?


• GILLESPIE: No, it was just finished. That was the end of my engagement and I hadn’t even opened yet.


• HENTOFF: The so-called bebop musician – which was a phrase, as I recall, that was invented by publicity guys – began to take the place of stripteasers and wife murderers as a thing to have Sunday supplement pieces on.


• GILLESPIE: That’s why I couldn’t say “King of Bebop” in my publicity any more. In all my publicity, when they want to say bebop, I say no.



• DR. WINICK: I think there’s no doubt that this does make hot copy, but there’s also no doubt that there are a considerable number of jazz musicians who have been, and are, drug users, that jazz musicians themselves, by voluntarily or otherwise associating themselves with narcotics themes, by making dozens and dozens of records dealing with narcotics themes


• HENTOFF: But that happened before bop. You’re thinking of, like, The Viper?


• DR. WINICK: There were many such records in the 1930s, and there were also such records in the 1940s and the 1950s, right up to the present time.


• HENTOFF: But it was mostly the older guys who made them – guys who were lushes, as a matter of fact.


• N. ADDERLEY: I think that right now there may be some association in the public mind between jazz and the beatnik movement – though I don’t know what the definition of beatnik is. But there’s a tendency, for example, to associate a guy who believes in existentialism with jazz. Now I don’t put a man down for what he wants to do or be – but why drag me into it?


• HENTOFF: Nat’s quite right, I think, especially in this whole Kerouac-Ginsberg circle. They have taken jazz for their own use. But in the general public’s mind – so far as they think about it at all – jazz somehow is inevitably mixed up with whatever kind of excess the beatniks commit.


• GILLESPIE: It’s even in the funny papers. Do you read Kerry Drake? The guy’s even got a goatee. And I resent that. And a beret. And he’s a trumpet player!


• N. ADDERLEY: They put a little Man-Tan on him, it could be you, right?


• C. ADDERLEY: When I was in Chicago a few months ago, I was called upon by a reporter of one of the Negro dailies to answer some charges by the great Sol Hurok about jazz which were perfectly ridiculous. Hurok is purported to have said that jazz is the worst thing that eve happened in America. He supposedly said he knew of wild “jazz” parties after which murders were committed.


• KENTON: That’s just one more example of the tendency to use the word “jazz” as though it were synonymous with narcotics addiction, alcoholism, sexual excesses and all things evil in our society

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