Culture and politics as they related to Marijuana and drugs overall changed in the 1980s, but there were still a great number of 80s rock bands that used weed.
Musical trends tend to follow current events, political shifts and changing attitudes in society, and the rock bands of the 80s were no exception. The 60s and 70s saw the rise and fall of psychedelic music, along with peace-and-love folk acts calling out for unity during particularly tumultuous times in history. In the 1980s, a dramatic change took place in pop culture, with bands slowly moving away from these themes and, with that, being less and less associated with marijuana use.
But, as we all know, music and weed do go hand in hand, as has been the case throughout history. So, just because your favorite musical acts weren’t filling their songs with cannabis innuendos, that does not mean that they weren’t avid marijuana users. In fact, some of the top acts of the 80s were outspoken about their weed usage, and many continue to smoke to this day.
Let’s dive into these diverse rock bands of the 80s who were known for enjoying herb from time to time.
80s Rock Bands that used weed
Formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970, Aerosmith was a defining band of a generation, with most of their successful hits taking place in the 1980s. Front man Stephen Tyler was everything a rock fan could possibly want out of a lead vocalist, embodying the superstar persona with his long hair and love for outlandish fashion, along with huge vocal abilities that made him distinctive from other acts of the time.
Aerosmith did begin with psychedelic music but took on a straighter rock persona the following decade. Still, they never strayed too far from their roots when it came to the influence behind their psychedelic beginnings, which was marijuana. Stephen Tyler has said in interviews that the band smoked weed and often, and that he himself began using it regularly in the mid-60s, when a lot of musicians were finding that it helped them with their creativity. Tyler has said that weed is preferable to other substances, being gentle and not interfering with his creativity or ability to perform.
Many people forget that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around since the early 80s, as many of their biggest hits came out in the 90s. But these guys have been blurring genres for quite a long time, and have always embodied the California persona of laid-back, chill music with serious funk and reggae influences. Their earlier music borrows from these genres much more than their later stuff, and you can imagine that weed, certainly played a role. After all, California was weed’s capital since long before legalization took place just a few years ago.
Both Anthony Kiedis and Flea have discussed past marijuana use, and it likely got them through the grueling tours they endured during their first decade as an established act. In the late 80s, the band was held back by growing dependency on harder substances but cleaned up their act soon enough to continue an extraordinarily successful career, enjoying more widespread, mainstream success than ever before. They won a Grammy award in 1992 for their hit “Give it Away.”
Anthony Kiedis is sober except for the occasional toke, which he says is not a substance that has ever been problematic in his life. Less is known about Flea’s marijuana use today, although we do know that he started smoking the stuff at age eleven, as he has stated in interviews.
#3: The Clash
The Clash is one of the most iconic punk bands of all time, having started in 1976 in England’s fast-growing punk scene that quickly influenced the entire world, launching a new genre that still endures to this day. Joe Strummer, the front man of the band, helped write songs that gave the band much success in the late 70s, and the band continued to rise in fame through the early 1980s, when punk came to America and launched an entire cultural movement.
Joe Strummer was a self-described stoner, as were other members of the band. Strummer has said that weed helps his mood, hinting that he may struggle with anxiety, depression, or both. One thing we can say is that the band’s weed use had never interfered with their ability to perform one killer show after another, or record era-defining records that continue to sound fresh and exciting to this day.
#2: The Police
The late 70s saw quite a shift in rock music, with new music scenes launching fresh genres that would quickly take over the world. The Police, who got their start in 1977 in London, England found a way to blend rock with reggae in a way that had never been done before, making them an iconic musical act who challenged conventions of what rock music is.
Led by Sting, whose persona is still iconic to this day, the Police had a number of successful hits throughout the 1980s before finally breaking up halfway through the decade. In 1983, Rolling Stone Magazine called them perhaps the biggest band in the world, and it is easy to forget that during their peak, they really were.
The band got back together in 2007, proving with their ticket sales that they still have a huge following. Throughout the band’s more creative years, Sting has admitted to using weed as a creative tool. According to him, it helped write lyrics and complete songs on which he had been stuck. He is just one of many iconic band members to come out and say that cannabis played a big role in the hit songs that are still with us today.
George Clinton, front man of Parliament Funkadelic (P-Funk), has been one of the most outspoken marijuana advocates for decades. The band was more of a collective, with a rotating roster of musicians who took part as they wanted to over the span of several decades. The band started in the late 1950s, but arguably, its peak was the 1970s, with some of its biggest hits taking place as part of the post-disco funk movement that crossed various genres of music to make something danceable but with a heavier focus on musicianship. The 1980s was the end for the band, but they did see a good deal of success during this time.
Clinton, originally from Plainfield, New Jersey, never tried to hide the role that weed played in his music, or his flamboyant persona. He also made great strides for the afro-futurism movement, which has inspired black artists to this day.
Over the years, George has credited marijuana with being a positive influence in his life. He has said that using weed helped him get off of harder substances, while inspiring his creativity. He also speaks of the medicinal benefits it has offered to both himself and his loved ones.
From Hair Metal to Soft Rock, to Hard Rock to Even Punk – The 80s Rocked!
Weed in pop culture may have been more subdued in the 1980s than it was in previous years, but that does not mean that the most popular musicians weren’t smoking it all throughout the decade. As you can see, some of the most influential acts of the 80s were using marijuana to help them write the most enduringly successful songs in history, and many still advocate for it to this day.