When Cocaine was Fuel
“Cocaine’s a hell of a drug” – Rick James
My rule of thumb for musicians from the 70′s or 80′s goes like this: if you made records that had references to white lines, disco balls, or spaceships, you probably did too much cocaine. If you overdid it with the Frippertronics, made albums based on 1984, Brave New World, or I, Robot, wrote songs about snow, unicorns, or your impending insanity, you probably did too much cocaine. If you were unable to get your dick up to have sex with groupies, trashed a dressing room, hung out with trannies at Studio54, or employed a midget to be your bodyguard, you probably did too much cocaine. Also, if you hung out with David Bowie, were a member of Fleetwood Mac, are dead from a heart attack, got really into raw food diets, or have found god in any way shape or form, you probably did too much cocaine.
Yes, that may have been a bit abrupt or mean, and I don’t want you to think I’m not a nice guy, so here are some true facts about me: I’ve never put out a hit record, I’ve never ridden in a limo with a hot tub, I’ve never taken up residence in a sandbox to “fuel” my “creativity”, I don’t like cocaine, and, unfortunately, I have still not hung out with David Bowie.
Still, life isn’t so bad for me: I’ve got my health, a beautiful girlfriend, great friends, and I can breathe through my nostrils–life is pretty good. But when I watch shows like VH1′s Behind the Music and Celebrity Rehab –showcasing the supposed “road to redemption”–and listen to people go on and on about the error of their ways, and how they’ve changed, I can’t help but feel like they are totally full of shit, and if they could travel back in time, they absolutely would.
Now, if I may add one more thing to that Jeff Foxworthy-esque list of “You might have been a coke head if…”: my educated guess is that if you were signed to Casablanca Records, or held any job at Casablanca Records in the latter-half of the 1970′s, then you did cocaine. If you need evidence to prove this to yourself, read the And Party Every Day (Backbeat Books), by Larry Harris, the guy who co-founded the label.
For those of you with minimal knowledge of the Casablanca, it was responsible for some of the the best and worst of the disco era; giving us production genius Giorgio Moroder, and the utter pile of shit known as The Village People. It was also the home of the phenom known as Kiss, has the distinction of being the label that put out some of George Clinton’s most brilliant stuff under the Parliament moniker, and while it isn’t rock n’ roll, Casablanca also put out Rodney Dangerfield’s No Respect album, a release that some would say is one of the greatest comedy records ever put out. Between Gene Simmons and Ace Freely; Donna Summers “I Need Love”, and Rodney, no record label put out a discography as impressive as Casablanca.
But while Casablanca put together a fantastic roster of diverse talent, could they have done any of it without the help of cocaine? Would there even be a book if a good chunk of it didn’t involve stories about the booger sugar? Even on the back cover, the first quote from the book is about the stuff:
“There was blow everywhere. It was like some sort of condiment that had to be brushed away by the waitstaff before the next party was seated.”
Pretty much everybody in this book does cocaine. Harris does it with radio DJ’s to get his albums played on the air, Curtis Mayfield gives Harris tens of thousands of dollars to go buy him some, and if you read between some of the lines, you get the feeling that if not for cocaine, half the records that came out in the late 70′s may have never have seen the light of day. While I’m not sure if that’s for better or for worse, and And Party Every Day isn’t exactly the most exciting music book you’re ever going to read, it at least stands as an account of the excesses that made a lot of people rich in a time so long ago.
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