There has always been a reasonable percentage of famous musicians (and poets) who have leaned towards drugs either to inspire their art or to escape from it. In the modern age, Ozzy Osbourne, Robbie Williams and most recently, Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse have been in and out of rehab like the proverbial fiddler’s elbow.
And it’s not just the odd spliff which is causing controversy. The increasingly popular genre of ‘gangsta’ rap is full of lyrics glorifying drugs, gun crime and suicide. Like violent computer games, it has been suggested many times that this type of music has more than a passing link to the steady rise in violent crime in the UK. So, is it still ‘music’ or ‘art’ or is it incitement?
Along with drinking excessively, particularly when photos of these antics appear in the press, these factors contribute to the picture of a yobbish ‘don’t care’ attitude adopted by the famous people who are, worryingly, held up as role models and even idols by young people. However, instead of being ostracised, they receive more press coverage, more fame and also, it seems, more recognition within the industry.
So should illegal or immoral behaviour affect the way we treat our music stars or is it entirely separate from their music making? If we decide to stop allowing these people to avoid taking responsibility for their behaviour, is this to be confined to certain ‘crimes’ or should they be banned from the Brits for jumping a red light?