The Needle And The Damage Done: Addiction And The Music Business

Nothing is more dishonest, these survivors claim, than the myth that getting high helps your creativity.

[caption id="attachment_211935" align="aligncenter" width="763"] Illustration by Mackenzie Moore[/caption] Polly Parsons grew up with  a lot of questions. Why did her famous father, the country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, die from a big dose of liquid morphine on top of multiple tequila shots at Joshua Tree National Park in 1973 when she was six years old? Were her own subsequent teenage drug problems inevitable given her family history of suicide, mental breakdowns and addiction? How much does genetic make-up contribute to substance abuse? How much does the environment? Are musicians more susceptible than most people? Are drugs and creativity somehow linked? And what was the father she barely knew really like? Such questions are as old as the music business, but they are being asked again today, more loudly than ever, after the recent high-profile opioid overdoses by Prince, Tom Petty and Avicii. Looking for answers led Polly Parsons to open the Hickory Wind Ranch, a detox/rehab center named after her father’s best known song, outside Austin. “Every Friday night at the ranch,” says Parsons, now 50, “I’d have all the boys and girls come over to my living room and bring a new song or a new poem to share. That’s…

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