Sex, drugs, rock’n’roll. It’s no secret drugs have a significant presence in the music industry. JOSEPH EARP investigates just how widespread they are in Australian music, and how music has historically dealt with the question of drug use. This article was produced as a collaboration between The Brag and Dopamine.

Music is fulfilling. The next day you feel better. Drugs, the next day you feel terrible – unless you have more drugs.” – Neil Young

There are certain images that have become seared onto the pop culture consciousness. Images of tortured musicians slumped over their guitars, needles sticking out from their track-mark-studded arms. Images of great rock’n’roll doyens hoovering up blow in a jacuzzi. Images of performers searching for a quick pick-me-up before they head out under the bright lights of the stage. These are images that we now know intimately, that belong almost entirely to the realm of cliché.

After all, drugs and rock’n’roll are so deeply intertwined with one another that we often talk about both when only specifically mentioning one. They mean the same things to us. They mean excess, privilege, self-destruction and wealth. They mean all the things that maybe we don’t often admit to ourselves that we want, and all the things that we know might ultimately kill us.

Many of rock’n’roll’s most mythic, legendary tales concern the imbibing of titanic amounts of illicit substances. We are obsessed with these stories; we tell them to ourselves over and over across different mediums. They’re stories about musicians succumbing to the allure of drugs and then slowly, defiantly rising back up to the top.