[Dixielandjazz] DRUGS AND MUSICIANS - Deja vu?

Fred Spencer drjz at bealenet.com
Sun Oct 17 10:36:51 PDT 2004

Dear Steve,
Thank you for one more informative article from the NYT. I am not, and never have been, a member of the "medical establishment ", which seems to approve of the uncontrolled use of propanolol in musicians.  Jazz musicians used "chemical support" for pre-peformamce jitters long before the current unethical, phamaceutial commercials, bolstered by drug salesmen, which tell you "to see your doctor" for free samples. Doctors want to keep their patients so they often comply with the patients' request, and today we have a drugged US population.  I dealt with this to some extent in my book, "Jazz and Death. Medical Profiles of Jazz Greats", quoting Pee Wee Erwin who said, "I never attempted a solo performance under any circumstances in a studio without drinling first".
To the point. Propanolol may be "relatively safe" but not safe at all to some people. Even aspirin has serious side effects. I don't know the basis of the trial between drug /placebo-- Juilliard/Eastman students and would want to know about the statistical validity of the study, which has to be objective to some degree, but the subjective assessment by "performances that musical judges deemed superior " in the drugged group is purely subjective. As Buck Clyton said in his autobiography "Buck Clayton's Jazz World". "Anybody can be a critic if he so desires. I've seen critics who just read some books and then go out snd criticize someone they don't like". James Lincoln Collier presents a more academic, but equally scathing, review of this topic in Chapter 9 (The Critics) of his book, "Jazz.The American Theme Song". 
Enough, although there is a lot more.  I am a "theraupetic nihilist", which means that I do not believe in any treatment unless it is absolutely necessary. There may be occasions when the medically supervised use of propanolol is justified in treating stage fright, which is not approved by the FDA. The present uncontrolled pattern is to be deplored. Regards.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list