JAZZ

 

 

 

 

STRAIGHT LIFE 

 

 

JAZZ

 

 

 

 

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I guess you're supposed to be the one to slow it down.

"Never. 'Cause I don't think like that.…I stopped drinking two years ago. Because I had diabetes 2. And it's the best thing I ever did. My mind's so clear now, you know. And the curiosity's at an all-time high."

Do you wish you'd done it sooner?

"Yeah, but I came up with Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra, man. I didn't have a chance. Seven double Jack Daniel's an hour. Get out of here. Ray Charles, Frank—those guys could party. Sinatra and Ray Charles, them motherfuckers invented partying." 

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Did you try everything over the years?

"I've tried everything. Amyl nitrate. Methedrine. Benzedrine. Everything. Ray had me on heroin for five months."

How old were you then?

"Fifteen."

Did it get bad for you?

"Yeah, I started shooting. And then I fell down five flights of stairs, and I said, 'That ain't gonna work.' And it's the best thing that ever happened to me, because when I was in New York, I was hanging out with Howard McGhee and Earl Coleman and Charlie Parker and shit—I would have been a junkie for life."

Was it easy to stop?

"I fell down five flights of stairs, brother. I didn't need any more inspiration than that. Shit, it's the last time I did it. Because I can stop like a motherfucker. Anything. Cigarettes. Alcohol. I just stop, man."

Obviously, Ray Charles carried on for a long time.

 "Oh, please—he went 30 years with heroin, and then the police told him he couldn't get his license to play clubs unless he stops. And he did, and the 32 clubs gave him the licenses back. And then he started on black coffee and Dutch Bols gin for 25 years." (14)

When he was still using, would you talk to him about it?

"No, I wouldn't talk. Talk about what? I've seen him shooting in his testicles, man. Because heroin's a strange drug. Ray, all of his veins were dried up and black, and he's shooting himself in the testicles, man."

And you'd see that?

"Yeah, he had a guy do it. It was horrible."

 

 

Quincy Jones talking to Chris Heath for GQ Magazine  in January 2018

 

 

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Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea talking about his drug experience, his addicted stepfather and his role in the movie Low Down, a biopic about jazz pianist and Charlie Parker and Miles Davis collaborator Joe Albany.The film was based on the 2003 book Low Down: Junk, Jazz and Other Fairy Tales From Childhood written by Joe Albany's daughter Amy-Jo.

 

"In his growing-up years, Flea had learned to play the trumpet, like his character Lester Hobbs, and he also spent time indulging his character's favorite vice: heroin. And by his own estimation, "I did it a lot," he says."

 

What was it like growing up with your stepdad?
God bless him, it was very difficult. He wasn't as successful as Joe Albany. He barely did any recording, but he was a great player. He was subject to these real, crazy, violent outbursts, just irrational, crazy emotional behavior. I was a kid. I didn't know drugs and alcohol and what they did. My mom got together with him when I was six or seven years old. It was just this really insane behavior that was frightening. At the same time, he was like, "Listen to this record" and he'd have these jam sessions all the time. Like I said, the music part of it was amazing. He was a really loving guy, too, but drugs make people crazy.

Did you compare childhoods with Amy?

We talked a lot about growing up. Being the same age, growing up in the same town, we both kind of like got into punk rock at the time and were both wild in the street and all that.

Was your character as a whole easy to play?
It was hard, 'cause the guy's a junkie, he's a pretty pathetic character and he kind of spirals down. Each time you see him, he gets worse and, at the end, he's a disaster to the point where he freaks Joe and Elle out. I was like, "OK, I gotta really tap this thing," and that was a challenge for me 'cause at this point in my life, I'm basically a pretty together dude. I don't drink or smoke or do drugs. I exercise, I have a big career, I'm a parent and I run a music school. I do all this shit. I was a little like, "OK, I gotta really get there." Like I said, I really felt it. Out of love for those guys, I could just feel being there, like that.

You talked about your own experience with heroin earlier. You were able to quit cold turkey?
I was never a junkie. I was never strung out, but I did stop doing drugs. In '92 I got really sick and I just wanted to be healthy because, even though I did drugs and stuff, I played basketball every day and jammed with my buddies. I got chronic fatigue and I got all fucked up. So I was like whatever it takes I just wanted to clean my body out completely and be healthy. I just stayed that way.

 

From an interview by Kory Grow for Rolling Stone (November 6, 2014)

 

 

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