PLAYBOY: Our purpose, gentlemen, in this first PLAYBOY Panel, is to discuss narcotics
addiction and the jazz musician. We might put it another way: to what extent is addiction a special
problem of the jazzman? How common is the use of narcotics among musicians, and to what degree is the public attitude a reflection of the facts? We aren't in search of dogmatic conclusions: rather, we'd like to stimulate thought, to ventilate the subject and let in the light of knowledge and experience - which you men have.
Stan Kenton, you have not only been in the very forefront of advanced big-band jazz since the early Forties, you've also been a
long-time, articulate spokesman for jazzmen. Vhy don't you lead off? There are an estimated
Sixty thousand drug addicts in this country: how common is narcotics addiction in the jazz field?
KENTON: It exists, of course, and it exists as a very real problem - exactly as it does among other occupational groups jazzmen tend to be mavericks; they are not only non-conformist,
they refuse to pretend, to play it safe, to pose as if they are other than they are. And they are on display before
the public at their times of greatest tension, when the men who are addicted may
feel their greatest need - so the few addicts among them are more readily revealed. But I'd say there is an
immense over-emphasis on the degree of addiction among jazzmen.
PLAYBOY: Billy Taylor, is a top-ranking pianist with long and wide experience among the modernists, how do You feel about it?
TAYLOR: I'm certain it's not at all as common as the newspapers would lead you to believe. The addiction of musicians is played up completely out of
proportion to their numbers, simply because they're newsworthy.
PLAYBOY: Duke Ellington, you've been a vital part of jazz history since the Twenties - as composer, leader, pianist. Would you say
there is some factor - some force - which links drug addiction and the jazz musician?
ELLINGTON: I don't believe that drug addiction is an occupational hazard.
PLAYBOY: Maxwell T. Cohen, as an attorney who is also Secretary of the Musicians' Clinic, who is a recognized
specialist on narcotics and the law, and who represents many leading musicians and entertainers, what's your opinion?
COHEN: We know that possibly thirteen percent, and more realistically, twenty percent of the drug addicts in the
United States are juveniles. Of the remaining eighty percent we know, again in a general way, doctors are in first place. Next are nurses. Third, housewives. Fourth, professional criminals.
Musicians would come possibly around eleventh or twelfth on the list.
PLAYBOY: Let's hear from Shelly Manne , one of the major influences on drums in contemporary jazz, former associate of
Les Brown, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and a man who's had many combos of his own.
Shelly, do you agree that the segment of the public that automatically associates jazz and dope is greatly misinformed?
MANNE: I do- yet the musician is accessible to the pusher.
TAYLOR: He's accessible because many of the nightclubs, many of the places in which jazz musicians work, are easily accessible to the people who want to
PLAYBOY: Before we Start tossing this back and forth, let's hear from another panelist, Jimmv Giuffre - ace reed man,
GIUFFRE: I've been a musician for over thirty years, and I've played in clubs all over the country, and all over the
world, and no one has ever approached me about this kind of thing in nightclubs. In my opinion, addiction has more to
do with a man's background - his upbringing - than with his occupation.
PLAYBOY: Nat Hentoff is, of course, one of the few serious jazz critics in the world who is admired
by musicians as well as jazz fans. Let's hear from you, Nat.
HENTOFF: Although it's absurd to make jazz musician synonymous with addict, let's be practical. There is addiction in
the fields. I think that someone here once said that it would be hard to get a
big band together of really first-rate talent without having guys with problems.
PLAYBOY: Dizzy Gillespie, your pioneering on trumpet, your leadership of big bands and combos, and your superb musicianship don't require elaboration here. From your experience, do you think Hentoff's statement a fair one?
GILLESPIE: I've had addicts in my band. Once I was playing in a club in Chicago, and I walked down in the basement and I caught one of my musicians with a tie around his arm and a spoon on the table. I fired him immediately. Immediately! I said, "You get Out of here, get out of here right now!"
N. ADDERLEY: Maybe he was just going to eat some spaghetti.
PLAYBOY: Well, Diz, you've sort of anticipated our tackling another aspect of the problem - how a leader handles addicted musicians - but before we do, it seems apparent, right now, that we're all generally agreed that being a jazz musician does not presuppose addiction or a special susceptibility to addiction, despite some uninformed opinion to the contrary. It's probably fair to say, though, that part of that mistaken notion is based on a belief that drugs in some way inspire a musician to play his best. What about that?
ELLINGTON: Since playing an instrument is a matter of skill and coordination, it seems to me that a man's best performance would be when he had complete control of his faculties.
COHEN: A musician is first of all keeping time down to thirty-seconds of a beat. He is reading music. He is attuned to what the musician next to him is playing. There is manual dexterity involved in playing an instrument. It is impossible for a musician to be that finely coordinated if there is any degree of retardation resulting from alcoholism or drug addiction.
HENTOFF: Are you saying that nobody who's playing first-rate jazz can be on?
COHEN: I don't say that. I say that an addict is not coordinating perfectly. He may think he sounds good, but to the auditor, he doesn't. He is wild, uncoordinated.
PLAYBOY: Nat Adderley is looking a bit troubled. Nat, as a cornet player who's been involved with jazz since childhood, let's hear what you have to say.
N. ADDERLEY: I disagree with Max Cohen. I can't tell basically-unless it's a very extreme case of a guy being high- whether he's been using or not.
COHEN: Is it physically possible for a man tinder the influence of heroin to perform with a group?
PLAYBOY: Cannonball, do you want to answer that?
C. ADDERLEY: I'm afraid that I have played with many musicians who were stoned out of their minds and played like never before. I wish it were a truism that if a guy were addicted to narcotics, I could say, "Well, he's high, he can't play," but
COHEN: I ask Dizzy point blank - is it possible for a musician under the influence of narcotics to play in an ensemble?
GILLESPIE: I think it is. It's according to the degree of genius in the musician, I think. Because I know some musicians stoned
high and they still can play, but I know some musicians who sit down and they're high and they're slobbering all over their instruments. I've seen a
well-known musician under the influence of narcotics - I know he was high because he was nodding and
you'd wake him up and he'd start playing and just play, play, play, play, play - and
I've seen the same musician under the influence of alcohol and I had to call him off, and say, "Look,
think about all your fans out there." He's dreaming. He's going around with a fifth of
whiskey all the time, and maybe he's trying to substitute for the drug by drinking the whiskey. He's playing nothing -
absolutely like a beginner - and I know this guy's a genius.
HENTOFF: In other words, although we're not advocating the use of drugs, I think the only way to get a useful discussion of this problem is to do away with what ever moralistic myths we can. And one
is the myth that if you're on you can't coordinate. It's just not true.
TAYLOR: I worked with Charlie Parker, and Bird said a couple of times in print that he felt some of his worst performances were when he was under the
influence of drugs. And I think this is borne out by some of the records that he made - Relaxing at Camarillo and some things like that - and he was in pretty bad condition on some of those records. He was such a sensitive guy, it's very difficult to understand how he could stay on dope, because he knew it was suicide, that he was killing himself, but his other personal problems were just such that he wasn't physically or mentally
able to stay off.
MANNE: Actually, I think that the reason some musicians do feel better equipped to play, with their addiction, is that, like a lot of people, they feel inferior.
I think that taking junk sort of frees them of their inhibitions. And they can get up and feel on equal terms with the people who are listening to them, have
more confidence, and open up in their playing. But I don't think they play better. it's just their imagination.
GIUFFRE: I'm sure that there has passed through the minds of some immature musicians the idea that some very famous musicians have used drugs, and maybe that was part of their secret. But
I think it was coincidental with their greatness.
MANNE: I think that Billie Holiday was great before she was an addict. She would've been great if she had not been in addict. I've studied junkies when they were stoned, and I've studied them when they were straight, and I feel that when they can think clearly and speak coherently, they can perform better.
GIUFFRE: From what I've observed, under the influence of any kind of stimulant, there may be high points
reached, some kind of a quick inspiration, of abandon, but in the long run I don't believe that those high points are really that high or that they happen that often. And there are so many low points. I've seen musicians so lethargic under the influence of drugs that they tend to be very lax, and don't have the awareness and sharpness to perform.
PLAYBOY: You all seem to be pretty much agreed, then, that some musicians can play well under the influence of
drugs and others can't, but in general a musician's quality is not improved by narcotics - although they may give him a sense of self-confidence that he needs to perform. is that a major factor in jazzmen becoming addicts, do you think?
MANNE: Well, a jazz musician has to capture that spontaneity every night, so drug addiction may be a little more predominant among jazz musicians. A studio musician, through his experience and knowledge, can sit down and do a good job even if he doesn't feel like it that night, and he doesn't have to produce for, say, five thousand people sitting in an audience looking at him. He's not constantly creating like a jazz musician.
TAYLOR: One thing that drives guys either to drink or to dope is the one-nighter. You make impossible jumps. You're working with big bands - so you work tonight in Bangor, Maine, and you've got a
one-nighter scheduled right after that gig, and you have to get in the bus and go out to Minneapolis. You're driving to the gig, and then you've got to drive all day and you barely make it in time for the
one-nighter. You've been sitting up in the bus; the only time you have off is to go to the john or get something to eat, and you're dirty, you're sweaty, you've got to go right on - and the people are all freshly shaved and freshly showered, all the girls look nice and you feel like a dog. And the spotlight is on you - and you need a shave, you feel terrible, you don't want to go near anybody because you feel you smell like a ram. And this kind of thing, when you do it night in and night out - it's understandable why a musician would want to find some "out," some sort of relief, to make him feel good, too.
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
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
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
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
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. WSNICK: 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
problerm 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
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
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
TAYLOR: The only reason a man who is an addict would go
out and hit somebody on the head or rob someone is to get money for dope. He's not going
to do it under the influence of dope. Once he's high, everything's cool, everything is beautiful - "Don't bother me." But when he can't get it, he's ready to hit his
mother on the head
GiLLESPIE: There's no question but what the few jazz musicians who have
gotten themselves into serious trouble are responsible for the bum label that's
been pinned on the rest. But what really bugs me is the cats who mess with heroin. Heroin is the dirtiest, I mean, the worst Every time they stick that needle in their arm, there's a chance that they might
go out right then, because you could get a bubble in there and bam, there goes your heart, Or you get an overdose and,
bam, there you go.
C. ADDERLEY: And they're the people who can least afford it --
GILLESPIE: Sure. All a doctor does is sit down and write out a prescription ant
he's high for four to five months.
ELLINCTON: In my experience, the most offensive, obnoxious, violent, insulting obscene people are juiceheads-not
PLAYBOY: It is possible for an addict to lead a normal life - socially and professionally?
TAYLOR: The most widely publicized guy who did was Stan Getz : few people
knew that he was even an addict until he acknowledged it himself. And he looked like the All-American Boy. He
was healthy looking - with big, rosy cheeks and everything. And he was getting high
every hour on the hour. It's not that way now. At least he says he's straightened up.
DR. WINICK: There's an assumption that a lot of people make that drugs have a kind of inevitable effect, that there's a single path you have to follow once
you begin using heroin, and that this path is predictable. Now this is not true. Drugs in general seem to have two different kinds of reactions on people. By drugs, I mean heroin. There are some people who do become kind of dopey and sleepy, and slobber like the guy Dizzy described before. There are other people who use drugs and show none of these effects. The heroin such a person takes may make him peppy and buoyant. Now,
such a person doesn't necessarily have to increase his dosage regularly. This is another myth. In other words, if
reality -like a limited income- makes it neccesary, then a guy can get by with, say, one shot a day. Life just prevents him from taking more than one shot a day. So it is possible for some addicts to go through life relatively undetected. One of the country's leading ophthalmic surgeons here in New York died a year or two ago. He was the chief surgeon doing eye surgery for forty years at a major New York hospital. Everyone knew that he was an opiate user - he had been for forty years. If a person had the money for it, there is no reason why he couldn't take drugs - he'd need, say,
$100 a week to spend, or $125 a week-and go un detected for years.
GILLESPIE: Most of the musicians I've known who were addicted, if they ever got any large
sum of money, they really went hog wild. They'd just say, "Oh, my goodness, I got this money, I'm gonna buy up all of this. Tomorrow will be later on, I'm gonna buy it all and shoot it all up now.
HENTOFF: Well, the reason is clear. Unlike that surgeon, they don't have, first of all, a steady, substantial income; they don't have the easy access to drugs that the surgeon has. And the whole sociological context is different.
C. ADDERLEY: Another thing about addicts: they'll say, "I started with marijuana and then it became
unfunctionnal, so I
graduated to cocaine and then that didn't do, so I graduated to heroin" - and that kind of thing. It's ridiculous.
N. ADDERLEY: It is ridiculous in theory, but the truth of the matter is that most heroin users began with marijuana.
HENTOFF: On the other hand, I think we all know several guys who've been on marijuana alone for years.
MANNE: You can he hooked on marijuana mentally. A guy doesn't physically need it just because his mind has developed a need for it in order to relax and face the things he has to face.
GIUFFRE: But with heroin, it's a physical thing, you have to beat that physical
side to whip it, and once you're into it, it's pretty hard to stop. I mean that you
get physically sick when you try. But as I understand, with marijuana, there is not this kind of sickness when you
don't have it. You have a craving like you have for cigarettes or liquor, that's all
C. ADDERLEY: I'd like to know - it is true that there is such a device as a card
or some such thing that certain people, at certain levels, can get from doctors
or from the government that allows them to use narcotics legally?
DR. WINICK : Not officially. Not legally. But deals are made with informers.
In other words, how can you find out that a guy is taking drugs? He's not going
to tell you. Well, someone must tell you . Who tells you? An informer. How do you reward this informer? One way is
to give him immunity from arrest. Another way is to pay him in drugs, and thus sustain him.
COHEN: There is a third way which is very prevalent in New York City and which has resulted in the arrest of a number of jazz musicians. Informers are given police cards and permitted to work.
PLAYBOY: Nat Hentoff , you've given a lot of study to the cabaret card system. Will you explain it before we go
HENTOFF: Well, anybody who play's in New York City - and it's
unique to New York City, so far as I know - anyone who works in a place where liquor is sold - that's a waitress, a hat-check girl, a musician, I guess even my cat - has to have a card from the licensing division of the police department before
he can work, and that means that anybody who applies has to go down and get mugged, and fingerprinted. He has to renew the card every two years. In addition, if he has a
criminal record, he then also has to get a card from the State Liquor Authority. The cops in New York operate on whim more
often than not. Guys have been denied cards because they've been arrested maybe eight years ago - but not convicted. It's a thoroughly iniquitous thing.
N. ADDERLEY: What's the meaning of iniquitoni?
COHEN: Now, to get back to informers :
if you know a well-known musician with a record of convictions, and he is performing in New York City, the
presumption is that he has a police card or a State Liquor Authority card. How do you reconcile that with the fact that you know that
he has a record of convictions? You may rest assured that this musician is rendering a service to the police
DR. WINICK : Now wait just a moment. I really can't accept the insinuation
that a musician who's been convicted of some thing in the past - a drug violation - and who is
working in New York, must therefore be assumed to be an informer. I think that's most unfair.
HENTOFF: That's the first time I've ever heard of this.
C. ADDERLEY: I've heard of it.
GILLESPIE: A guy gets arrested now and half an hour later
he's out of it. I told you - musicians, if they're heroin users, they'll turn in their mothers certain.
COHEN: A certain well-known musician was given a deck of heroin by another very well-known musician with a
criminal record performing in New York. The man who gave the heroin did not have a police card - that I know. He had a very impressive
criminal record. But he was performing in New York and his performances were being advertised. Within a few minutes after being given the heroin, the first musician walked down Broadway and was immediately pounced upon by the police. He then came to me.
I found out that every time a musician is convicted, somehow or other the second musician appears to be in the locality. The second musician himself - who is a notorious pusher - is never touched.
ELLINGTON: I wouldn't know a pusher from a puller.
DR WINICK: Of course, Max, you've reported this man's name to the police and called their attention to --
COHEN: Certainly not.
C. ADDERLEY: Tell me, so I can avoid him.
N. ADDERLEY: If you make it illegal for a man to work at the only thing he knows how to do, then the only thing left for him is to rob, cheat, steal or sell his mother. And he'll do any one of them, if he's an addict, to get the narcotic.
PLAYBOY: From what you've been saying, police activity in this field seems to
be a mixture of obtuseness, brutality and corruption - with no regard for the welfare of the addict himself.
KENTON: This is one of the problems that American society one day must make
adjustments for or straighten out in some way. There's not a human being alive who, at some time or other in his or her life, doesn't make some kind of mistake and - God knows - an accident or a mistake should be something that can be paid for, or lived down, instead of being pointed out every time you turn around. I think that once a man pays his debt to society for a past mistake - whatever it is - he should he permitted to live like others again, and not have these ugly things to contend with for a lifetime.
TAYLOR: I think it was Dr. Winick who once said that drug addiction is the only illness he knows of that's treated by the police department.
PLAYBOY: Billie Holiday is a notable example. While she was on her deathbed, the police were trying to arrest her for dope addiction. The sad thing is that addiction is treated as a crime instead of as
what it really- is - a disease and a social problem. Can we ever hope to solve the problem in this way?
COHEN: No, I don't think so.
GiLLESPSE: Narcotics is a big business proposition. If it were legal to buy narcotics, you wouldn't have to
spend all that money and you wouldn't have to bribe policemen.
HENTOFF: Some cops would lose their homes if it weren't for the narcotics market.
TAYLOR: It's impossible to work at night and see these people around in various places where you're working and not have some awareness that this is very definitely big business. Who controls it?
HENTOFF: Who do you think? The hoods.
C. ADDERLEY: An ounce of heroin in Lebanon costs five dollars. In the United States, that ounce will sell for
HENTOFF: There's the free enterprise system.
TAYLOR : Yes, and isn't that part of the solution to the problem, too? Take the profit Out of narcotics and
you've taken a very long step toward stopping the spread of drug addiction. Who's going to push the stuff, if there's
non profit in it? .And can't the potential profit be eliminated by making it legal to supply
addicts with small quantities of drugs, and needed. under medical supervision, while cures are attempted?
COHEN: The figures show that drug addiction is
responsible for approximately fifty percent of all crimes committed in larger metropolitan
HENTOFF.: I don't believe that.
C. ADDERLEY : Max says crime, hut I heard it in regard to certain types of crime - armed robbery, theft, breaking and entering. pandering, prostitution.
PLAYBOY: And it isn't the drugs that cause the crimes, but the need to get money to buy the
drugs. The problem of profit again. Right?
COHEN: Testimony tells us that the average drug addict
spends ten dollars to a hundred dollars a day, and he can only meet that financial need by crimes, violence
and inducing others to use narcotics.
HENTOFF: I think you'll find the incidence of violence is less than you suspect. There are crimes
connected with the need to get drugs, but --
C. ADDERLEY : I don't think that drugs would have to do with rape, , for example.
GILLESPIE: A guy who use heroin has no sexual
desire. That's what they tell me. The guys that I know say that this blocks out Sex altogether --
HENTOFF: And that celebrated man who held up the drug store could just
barely hold the gun.
DR WINICK : Sentences for narcotics violation have gone up steadily on all levels
- federal, state and municipal.
GILLESPIE: In some States, if you get caught with one stick of marijuana - fifteen years. And up to twenty years.
C. ADDERLEY: That's was happened to Candy Barr in Texas. For possession.
DR WINICK :: The law makes no distinction between possession and use. Either you're
possessing, or you're possessing with intent to sell, or you're selling. But whether you use it is irrelevant.
COHEN: Philadelphia, I think, lists internal possession as an offense.
GILLESPIE: In Philadelphia they had one of lily musicians strip down, and
they were looking at his arm, and I say, "You gonna make us sound bad. can't you
wait around until after the performance and take him on down and give him a test?" They Say, "No, I think we're going to take him now, Mr.
Gillespie." I say, '~You want us to go out there and sound bad
? The guy plays one of the lead horns.'' So they say, ''Well, he's got a mark on his
arm." I say, ''I got a mark on my arms. too. You want to see it?" And they say no.
"Well," I say, 'I been vaccinated; we're going overseas.. So I got
a mark, and you can take me down there.'' You know, they let him go.
The main efforts of the authorities in this
appear to be directed at making the punishment of the addict mo severe - that is
, putting him in jail for a longer time . Quite difference from the British
system , isn't it ?
DR WINICK : The law in England and America is
substantially the same . However the practice is different in that the
physicians are encouraged to help addicts to rehabilitate themselves and they
are allowed under the law to give them decreasing dosages of drugs. For less than
fifteen cents a dose.
HENTOFF: If the physician can do it, he'll reduce the
dosage over a period of time. But you never have to go scuffle for it, whereas in this
country if a doctor treats an addict by supplying him with drugs in my quantity, he gets busted,
and can lose his license. It seems to me what we've proved is that fi you try to regulate
addiction by punitive measures , you're going to get more and more addiction, and more hoods making more money. There have been a few doctors who for years have been
fighting this .The tendency among professionals in the field. lawyers and doctors, is for a medical approach to
addiction- having doctors treat the addict. Unfortunately, however, the head of the Federal
Narcotics Bureau, Harrv Anslinger is a notably obtuse man: also if you
do this he loses his own kind of power. And the newspapers, by and large, are still pretty uninformed.
The tendency is toward a medical approach but it may take a long time.
: What about the Musicians Clinic, in New York, which some of you helped to set
up. This is certainly an expression of an enlightened attitude.
TAYLOR: It was through the efforts of Nat Hentoff that we first discussed the
problem at the Newport jazz Festival, and the Festival gave us a grant of
$5.000.We organized a committee to help rehabilitate some addicts. Our Committee felt you
should treat addiction as a byproduct of an illness. Everybody who uses some form of narcotics uses it is
a crutch. Now you don't make a man walk any better by taking his crutch away as a first step in his cure. So the thing,
as I see it, is to make this mandatory problem of health and make a
man go to a hospital. When we got the committee together, it took us almost eight months before we could
actually find a way to help dope addicts without runing afoul of the law. we got
$5.000 to put in the bank and we didn't know what to do with it, because if we got a guy to come to us, we'd have to report it to the police first.
PLAYBOY : Suppose an addict does want help. What can he do?
TAYLOR: Well, let's say I'm an addict, and I want
to kick the habit. I can go to my doctor and say, "Look, I'm an addict, please, can you help me cure my self?" I can do that, but he has to report it to the police. He says, "Billy Taylor just came to me. He's an addict." In the next few days I get a visit from the
police department and I'm under constant surveillance from then on. And they look for me to lead them to the pushers and the other people. As soon as I turn myself in, I'm really in trouble. I lose my cabaret card; I can't work. It means
that I'm not going to turn myself in and get all these headaches. I'll try to kick by myself or I'll keep on using.
PLAYBOY: We seem to be doing all we can to make the addict's situation impossible. Is it possible for an individual to kick the habit himself?
GIUFFRE: I have known several who told me that they were just about at the bottom, and I knew them personally and considered their cases pretty hopeless. Yet they completely shook
MANNE: I've seen guys kick it on their own, but I find that the thing isn't just to kick - that's not the hard part. It's the years following their kicking the habit.
The problem is to stay away from guys who would turn them on again.
PLAYBOY:: What can other musicians do to help a man who's trying to kick?
ELLINGTON: I hear that the worst evil of addiction is the pain that comes from craving. So, to alleviate the worst evil, the bandleader should at all times
have a neat bundle of "C" notes - or credit cards - tucked away in the addict's instrument case.
PLAYBOY: How would you deal with a pusher confronting members of your
ELLINGTON: Ask him for his pilot's license. -
COHEN : I'd like to ask Charlie Winick this question, point blank: Would it be
possible for the narcotics traffic in New York - or anywhere - to exist, were it not for a certain
degree of official acquiescence and passivity?
DR WINICK: Well, I don't see why not. A criminal's business is not to get caught and, as we know, most of them aren't.
HENTOFF: It seems to me that the volume of narcotics traffic
must imply a certain amount of, let's say, laxity, to say the least. A cop is much more
likely to go after a user than after a big supplier; he might get into trouble if he went after an important pusher.
DR WINICK: : This whole pusher-user thing is confusing and irrelevant. Most
pushers are little guys, errand boys, not these big monsters waiting in a plush apartment for the men to come in with
hundred-dollar bills. Over half the traffic is the little guy who saves two or three thousand dollars,
buys a kilo in Marseille and brings it over here and then works with one other guy.
COHEN: The arrests made are mostly juvenile delinquents involved with narcotics
and small pushers, but no major distributors, no major importers.
HENTOFF: This is all true, but I think, realistically, if we want progress on this, the area to work hardest on is more medical control of addiction.
COHEN: That is one phase of the problem. Ultimately, you may curb it by medical assistance and so forth - but it's just an ameliorating factor.
HENTOFF: No, not at all. It's a radical, organic approach. But when you have the man in charge of the federal narcotics program so uninformed after all these years about the basic nature of addiction, let alone the basic ways to cope with it, your whole program is stopped from a federal point of view.
COHEN: Here we have a business process which consists of the raising of narcotics in certain areas of the world, its importation to the United States
and its distribution in the United States. Finally it comes down to John Smith who is arrested. The problem is not solved by giving John Smith medical
DR WINICK: But you have to accept the fact that a man is sick, that he has cancer, and you do the best you can in the face of a serious chronic disease. These
high-order considerations are worthwhile and serious, but someone else works on them while you cope with the chap who is sick.
N. ADDERLEY: That's right, what can you do about the user?
PLAYBOY: How valuable, for example, is the work being done now at the federal hospital for the treatment of addicts at Lexington, Kentucky?
GILLESPIE: You know what they tell me about Lexington? A guy tells me that when he's in Lexington, all they're thinking about is - "When I get out of Lexington, boy, I'm gonna get so high!"
TAYLOR: A guy might go in doing it one way. After being put in among addicts of all kinds, he might find fifty other ways to do the thing he was doing before. And he's not helped at all in too many cases. I have talked to
many musicians who have been in Lexington. One guy told me: "Well, I went down, and it was my first time. I went voluntarily because I thought I wanted to kick, and it just didn't work out. If you commit yourself, you can leave at any time, so guy's went
DR WINICK: It's misleading to imply that you just turn it over to the does and they'll take over. In other words, what will the doctor do, and under what circumstances? The fact is that he doesn't really know what to do. There is no knowledge, really, on the basis of which treatment can be given in a systematic way, and it's misleading to say, "Well, that's it, the doctors will take over." We have forty-seven thousand Americans who are as ill as if they couldn't walk. They are unable to function. Their central nervous system has been substantially modified, at least for a while, by the drug they're using. Now these people need enormous help from the community. They need much more than medical or psychiatric help. They need help in getting jobs, help in getting re-established, help in learning to relate to people and many, many other things.
HENTOFF: I didn't mean that it's a simple matter of just turning it oYer to the doe tors. But there is hardly any research data available on treatment of addiction, and the way you're going to get that is by having doctors treat addicts. So the first thing that has to be done in this country is for that to happen. Then there has to be community education to bring about not only medical and psychiatric help, but economic help, and a change in a complex of things which goes deep into the roots of society.
COHEN: I want to give you what I think are some practical
solutions. The Opium Control Commission of the United Nations has specifically charged that five countries are the source of most narcotics supplies coming into the United States:
Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria. Suppose that we ignore the political Situation and say to these five countries, "There will be no foreign aid extended to you and we will create tariffs which will prevent the importation of any goods from your country, unless you immediately prevent
narcotics from illegally leaving your countries for the United States." I would also hold any transportation company liable
if it permitted the transportation of narcotics into the United States. The third suggestion would be that it be deemed a felony, with the most severe possible penalties, for anyone to remove narcotics from a boat to
HENTOFF: Isn't that like sentencing a pusher for what the big guys do?
COHEN: In the United States, I believe in vigorous prosecution of major distributors. I also believe there is a need now for establishing a research facility which will study the possibilities of preventing addiction. It may be possible to determine that certain
children show a potentiality for turning to narcotics. I think it is possible to undertake a
prograim which can spot these youngsters, and to help them with their problems at that time.
DR.WINICK : That kind of prediction has never worked, even in something as gross as the prediction of juvenile
COHEN: You know more about this subject than anyone I've ever met - yet you're being negativistic about it. It has to be done.
DR.WINICK : If I sound negative about specific proposals, it's because no single program for the elimination of an illness as complex as drug addiction - which carries so much emotional freight in the community - can solve the problem. We need cooperative inter-disciplinary research and action, more local community participation, training the various healing professions in the techniques of
dealing with addicts, regional treatment facilities, demonstration centers, and a thorough and vigorous post-treatment rehabilitation program, which would certainly appear to be among the minimum requirements for an attempt to come to terms with this problem. The addict should be viewed as a sick person with a chronic disease which requires almost emergency action.
N. ADDERLEY: I have the final solution. If you want to cut out all of the narcotics addiction and the whole problem, then let's don't be lenient on anybody. Take all the junkies, all the pushers, all the crooks, and throw them all in jail, and there'll be no narcotics problem at all.
HENTOFF: What do you suppose we'll all be on next?
N. ADDERLEY: Then we'll all start taking something else, like grass. Then they'll outlaw grass. Nobody will have a lawn!
PLAYBOY: What you mean is, some people in society will always look for a new kick, for a new escape, from the cares and the stresses of society. And if it isn't narcotics, it will be something else. You can't solve the problems of a complex society like ours with laws alone, you've got to mix in understanding and help for those among us who are a little weaker than the rest, a little more apt to crack under the pressures of a fast-moving
modern world. The jazz musician, like any creative artist, is apt to be a little more vulnerable to these pressures than someone less sensitive and more satisfied with conformity, but the public image of the majority of jazzmen being involved with drugs is simply
untrue. Where it does exist, however, the situation is confused and worsened by official ignorance, prejudice and corruption at both the federal and local levels, with the result that narcotics addiction in this country is treated as a crime, when it should be handled as a medical
problem. A disturbing state of affairs, certainly, but one that may, in time, be cleared up by precisely the kind of open discussion that you gentlemen have participated in today. Thank you.