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Rockers Who Just Say No

As this exclusive excerpt reveals, not every musician has the drug habits of Pete Doherty or Courtney Love. 


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By Judy McGuire


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We all know that musicians tend to overindulge—a topic that's meticulously documented in my new book. Less well known are those all-too-rare rockers who, for one reason or another, leave the substances alone. Below are a collection of the abstainers and their best quotes about their pristine habits. 

1.) Ted Nugent

“Honest and intelligent people will remember it for what it really was: the Summer of Drugs.” (Wall Street Journal, 7/3/2007)

2.) Little Steven Van Zandt (E Street Band/Sopranos/“Little Steven’s Underground Garage”)

“Primal Scream could be the biggest band in the world. They’re fantastic when they make rock records once every ten years but man, they can’t tour because he’s a drug addict or whatever he is. I don’t have patience for it. I’m like if you wanna be a drug addict go and be a drug addict—don’t waste my time.” (Guardian, 3/25/09)

3.) Rod Stewart Offering Advice to His Daughter’s Pal, Paris Hilton

“Give up the drugs. You don’t need them. We’ve all done it but I’ve never been a druggie person so I’ve always been against it.” (Hello Magazine, 9/3/10)

4.) Bruce Springsteen 

“I never did any drugs. When I was at that age when it was popular, I wasn’t really in a social scene a whole lot . . . Plus, I was very concerned with being in control at the time. I was totally involved in what I was doing, and I had no need for anything else or anybody.” (Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts: The Definitive Biography 1972 – 2003)

5.) Frank Zappa

Drug use is a problem that faces America today in all age brackets. There’s all different kinds of drugs; they’re used by all different kinds of Americans and the amount of usage is staggering. I think it’s a major problem. It’s at least as big a problem as alcoholism or religious fanaticism . . . When a person is chemically altered, he is saying to the world at large ‘I am no longer responsible for my activities, because I’m stoned.’”

From a 1981 video interview with Pennsylvania State Trooper Charles Ash as part of an anti-drug campaign for the Pennsylvania Public School System

6.) Gene Simmons

“It never interested me, I also never eat bugs, but the French do; they eat grasshoppers and frog's legs, the idea of numbing my senses does not appeal to me, I have never seen someone drunk act cool, nor have I ever had a conversation with someone that is high that makes sense... Ultimately, I think too highly of myself to be anything but who I am all the time.” (interview with

7.) Ian “Straight Edge” MacKaye

“Someone recently asked me, ‘Are you still living this straight edge lifestyle?’ It is a reflection of the perversity of this culture that it would be conventional to think that not putting toxins into your body would somehow be a lifestyle, when in fact, that’s life.” (Satya, 11/06) pennence id

8.) Hayley Williams, Paramore

“We’re not trying to bang chicks—or guys in my case—after the show, and you’re not going to see us in the newspaper arrested for snorting cocaine in some bathroom . . . I like to know that I'm in control – that’s why I don’t do drugs or drink. I did drink for a while growing up, until I realized I was doing it to be cool . . . I want everything I say or write to come from the heart, not a pill or a pipe.”

Honorable Mention:

Joe Strummer was a well-known fan of the herb, yet in an interview with High Times, he admitted, “Well, I think it’s better not to take any drug at all. My advice would be, “Don’t bother to take any drugs.” But that’s what I say, that’s not what I’ve done.” (High Times, 1/2/03) 

This is an excerpt from The Official Book of Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll Lists. Judy McGuire is a Brooklyn, NY-based freelance writer and a columnist at the Seattle Weekly who has written about Adderall and moderate drinking studies, among many other topics, for The FixYou can find her at

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