LondonJazzCollector – Many of the Fifties and Sixties boppers were heroin addicts but I don’t think any actually tried to play on drugs. Most of the profound “spiritual ” music , for lack of a better word ,came from those who cleaned up, and found their way home. Coltrane is a good example.
The leading lights of bop were selected for their great talent through the intensely competetive recruitment process of stand-up nights at New Yorks club scene. Drugs had nothing to contribute to their ability and eventually wasted their talent. They played brilliantly despite drugs, not because of them. Some even had their playing skills wrecked by gangster enforcers for drug debts, like a trumpeter’s front teeth smashed, ruining their embouchure.
Many people through their early passage into life – then and now – are attracted to the “forbidden”. Fortunately, most resist or survive. As anyone who has tried to play an instrument while pissed, drugs and music don’t mix, – except may be for the audience, but that is a different story.
What happens when musicians get older? Having seen some of the older guys playing into their Seventies, it’s not all good. As someone once said of painters, artists often paint just many variations of the same picture. I have one Hendrix album, which is enough. If he were still here today, would he be still playing, or advertising butter or car insurance?