HomeMusicFeatures & ListsMusic Written Under the Influence

Music Written Under the Influence

Rock and roll has been associated with hedonism since its inception. For every song written while on drugs, there are thousands upon thousands of others that were not. You could also argue that, for every band that made it with an illustrious and glorified drug problem, there are thousands that were torn apart. With that in mind – here are 10 artists that wrote albums and/or songs written while under the influence.


Damon Albarn said recently that, after being clean for years, heroin helped him be creative. He claims to have had some sort of control over it, managing only to take it at the studio and stop when he came home, so it would be five days on, two days off. He says he and Jamie Hewlitt wouldn’t have been able to make a record like the Gorillaz self-titled debut unless they were “somewhat in their own worlds.”


Oasis are notorious for their drug fuelled career. Noel Gallagher said that, before 1997, he had never written a song without the assistance of cocaine. He even claims he was completely bombed and went into the back room challenging himself to write a song in 10 minutes and that’s where “Supersonic” came from. He’s adamant he’ll never use again, but is frustrated because he thinks the songs on those records were so good.

Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon were doing a lot of cocaine during throughout the production of their first two albums. Though they eventually quit, drugs still played a big part in their future work. Previous to writing their fourth album Only By The Night, Caleb Followill dislocated his shoulder during a fight with his brother and drummer Nathan Followill. He was on strong painkillers, which he said “expanded his mind.” He would wake up and find an amazing song in his songwriting book, with no recollection of how it got there.

The Flaming Lips

You would assume Flaming Lips would have an extensive list of songs written while under the influence, but Wayne Coyne claims The Terror, their 13th album, is the first album he’s made while on drugs – and it was deliberate. He thought, being this far into his career, it would be fun to have a different state of mind instead of grinding away in the same pattern. Other band members may have been high for previous work, though, considering drummer Steve Drodz had a drug problem for years.

Modest Mouse

In a 2004 interview, Isaac Brock said the only drugs he’s ever written music on are pills, pot, and alcohol. He continued to say that you can’t write on acid or coke. Although some may assume he writes lots of his lyrics with a little help from hallucinogens, he says he has to just be in the moment and feel a great disconnect. He just starts playing music and it comes to him when he isn’t over thinking anything, and later has to go back and sift through and figure out what he said.

David Bowie

David Bowie can’t even remember recording Station to Station and according to one biography, during that time he was subsisting on a diet of red peppers, cocaine and milk. This was during the era of the Thin White Duke persona.

Snow Patrol

“Chasing Cars” is Snow Patrol’s bestselling single, and Gary Lightbody wrote it in “a blur of red wine and Percocet.” He was hanging out with his producer one night and wrote 10 songs, all of which were completely terrible, except for one – “Chasing Cars.”

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain struggled with drugs and neither of his bandmates can say for sure whether or not he was using heroin while recording their final, hugely influential album, In Utero. By the time they finished recording their second album Nevermind, Kurt had only “dabbled” with heroin.

The Beatles

The Beatles’ career and drugs coincide, and Revolver came during the height of their experimentation with LSD. John Lennon and George Harrison spent a lot of that time exploring its powers while Paul McCartney refused to take the stuff.

Tame Impala

Tame Impala make “psychedelic” rock and are often assumed to be on hallucinogenic drugs while composing it. Kevin Parker claims to have taken acid before, but has never written music on it. He does say that sometimes while writing, he will get stoned, sometimes drunk, sometimes both, but in the end it doesn’t really matter to his songwriting process.

Most Popular