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'Do drugs make you more creative?'

ROCK N ROLL: Jimi Hendrix sang about his love of cannabis

WE ARE told time and time again that taking drugs is bad. But can we always say the same for the fruits of drug-induced labour?

Have you ever looked at a painting and thought to yourself, 'They must have been on drugs?' What about when watching a film, reading, or even listening to one of your favourite songs? Well you’re probably not wrong.

Countless artists, writers, poets and musicians have been addicted to, or at least used, drugs or alcohol over the course of their careers.

As the '60s and '70s are often remembered as a time when using drugs was an innocent exploration into a new and exciting lifestyle, it comes as no surprise that some of the most acclaimed music, film, art and literature in history have been influenced – by being under the influence.

It also goes without saying that some of the greatest songs of all time have been odes to particular drugs and tributes to the feelings they gave – good or bad.

Artists have sung their praises, unashamed of their source of inspiration ­– even if it can - or did - kill them.

Making hits

Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze for example, is an archetypical psychedelic drug tribute of the sixties and is arguably his signature song.

The lyrics, which encapsulate the experience of smoking this powerful strain of cannabis (which was hugely popular at the time), blew away crowds and is now considered a rock classic.

CODE: The Beatles sang about getting 'high' with a little help

Some of the biggest hits from the most successful band of all time, The Beatles, have also been odes to drugs. They famously sang with pride on their number one single A Little Help From My Friends: ‘‘I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends.’’

Lesser-known songs such as Ella Fitzgerald’s jazz and blues-infused cocaine crescendo Wacky Dust, to modern drug ballads such as Goldfrapp’s chilled indie hit, White Horse, are just a few of the thousands of songs penned about the need for narcotics.

Drugs in literature

Then there is of course the liaison between drugs and literature. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was said to have written the entire novel during 'a six-day cocaine binge'.

His wife Fanny said: “That an invalid in my husband’s condition of health should have been able to perform the manual labour alone of putting 60,000 words on paper in six days, seems almost incredible.’’

Everyone’s favourite horror novelist, Stephen King, was also a cocaine addict between 1979 and 1987, which is the same era in which he wrote novel-turned-Hollywood smash It.

FAMED: Cover of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Lets not forget gonzo journalism pioneer and novelist Hunter S. Thompson, who penned the classic 1972 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was a story about a drug-fuelled American adventure that was actually based a real road-trip he had taken in 1971.

The book has also resulted in several Hollywood adaptations – most notably one where Johnny Depp played the role of Thompson himself; and hardly a scene goes by without some form of drug consumption and a relentless amount of cigarettes.

Thompson once said of his habits: ‘‘I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

Drug addiction has always been an inspiration for film and characters: from cocaine cowboy Scarface in Sunny Miami. To ‘Renton’ diving deep into the ‘the dirtiest toilet in Scotland’ in Trainspotting searching for his heroin pellets.

Blow, Human Traffic, City of God, Requiem for a Dream, Pulp Fiction and A Clockwork Orange are just another few films based on drugs and are considered to be some of the greatest films ever made.


It must be said that drugs are far from glamorous, even if you are in showbiz.

Celebrity casualties as a result from drug addiction is almost as famous as the art they may have created.

We have all seen the tragic pictures of the late Amy Winehouse when she was at the height of her drug and alcohol addiction. We also witnessed how crack cocaine had efffected the late Whitney Houston in the years up to her shock death last month.

Millions of fans were left mourning when the King of pop, Michael Jackson, sadly died in 2009 at age 50, after taking dangerous sedative propofol.

SAD: Michael Jackson dies after taking drugs

So while we cannot put a value on the priceless art, finding creativity at the cost of one’s life may be too high a stake for some to risk.

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