Top 15 Non Druggy MusiciansOne of the great myths in rock n roll is that the most important / talented / exciting musicians must have taken drugs.

And whilst we are certainly not anti drugs here, we are bored of the cliche that drugs makes you a brilliant musician. For every acid inspired work of genius there’s a thousand fumbling disasters, for every trip into the beyond there’s a million coked up “I’m a genius” moments.

The pro drugs lobby often ask “who ever made great music without drugs” so just to help you along in your pub argument here we offer suggestions and a list of those that probably didn’t take drugs.

Angus Young
Second best selling album of all time and one of the most important band’s ever; AC/DC mainman did it all without chemicals

Steve Albini
With music that concise drugs would be a definite hindrance.

Poly Styrene
One of the best lyric writers of the punk era, her amazing imagination was untouched by drugs. God bless.

Ian Mackaye
Famously invented Straight Edge and also recorded some great psychedelic records with late period Fugazi.

Ravi Shankar
Went really out there musically and a genuine master. No drugs.

Ian Anderson
First Jethro Tull album is brilliant, like a British Captain Beefheart.

Bruce Springsteen

Drug free producer of big anthems.

More like a glammed up supermarket than a band, Kiss didn’t take drugs.

J Mascis
May look like a wizard but was never a drug fiend.

Adam Ant

Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? Well, made arguably the most original album of the punk period that’s as sow word that it should have been done on drugs.

Anti rock n roll Moz didn’t need drugs to open up his amazing imagination.

Frank Zappa
Famously anti drug and loved by pot smokers world wide

John Mclaughlin

Like Zappa, no drugs but loved by drug heads…

Ted Nugent

Maybe the true inventor of Straight Edge, unpleasant man who had a brief period of rocking greatness.

Henry Rollins

No drugs here either and who’s going to argue?


Glam horror punks with total tattoos and top 5 american album also no drugs.

Rage Against The Machine

Concise powerful music needs concise powerful minds.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Asian Dub Foundation too, and various successful trance DJs. Drugs are no good when they get in the way… But would Keef have been so great if drug-free?

  2. John Mc Laughlin was a bit of a drug fiend during the swinging 60s when he was a session musician,He cleaned up by the time he went to the US in 1969.
    His most pcychodelic record has got to be the album “Devotion” from that period. Mc Laughlin is
    not keen on the production. Hendrix producer Alan Douglas did the mix in the absense of the artist.
    Sounds like the producer swallowed a chemistry set.

    • A bit? From the many recollections he was doing drugs in the 60’s as much as every musician. Some of his friends even claimed that he considered JML as a guy who would most probably die from overdose.

      He quit drugs at all in early 70’s after becoming part of a religious group. Good for him and us… having in mind what he recorded AFTER that!

  3. Andy Partridge of XTC. Said in the 80s he had never done drugs, and that he and band mates laughed at pot-smoking of Skylarking producer Todd Rundgren.

  4. Yeah , the sex drugs n rock n roll bullshit has been fostered by hollywood for so long it’s boring…To the list you can add : John Fogerty , Prince , Dick Dale , BB King ,Percy Sledge also Paul Simon never struck me as much of a druggie

  5. JEFF BECK – came up with psychedelic and heavy metal riffs before them all (including Hendrix – who admitted stealing some in performance!); dude WAS the inspiration for Nigel Tufnel in Spinal Tap; often jammed with Clapton, Hendrix, and Page, recorded with Keith Moon and toured with Rod Stewart; Grammys and Hall of Fame memberships up the wazoo and an inspiration to many rock musicians; always claimed that his two drugs were cars and guitars (probably in that order) and always trash-talked the rock star lifestyle; guy basically was a rock star in that he rejected rock stardom

    • Beck did alot of heroin and coke, he shot up. He also straightened up pretty early and didn’t become a casualty. But he was definitely tight with the stones and Jimmy Page

    • LOL!!! Now that comment was worth wading through all this self-rightous bullshit.. Also, Steve Albini had a Sponsored by Heroin graphic on Big Black albums.. Have you ever seen videos of Steve Albini back in the day? No drugs?? Maybe whoever wrote this piece should lay off themselves and try a little research?

  6. There’s no way Frank Zappa was clean. You don’t eat human feces onstage without being under the influence of something.

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  15. Dave Grohl, and all Chomsky Allstars’ songs have been written drug-free.
    Michael Franti went through a blunt-smoking phase on ‘Chocolate Supa Highway’ but I think he’s into yoga now. Maybe that’s why his last three albums have been pish

  16. Jonathan Richman: ‘I’m Straight’ is the straight-line anthem, although with Jo-jo you wonder if he fell into the pot early in life, like Obelisk in the Asterix books…

  17. Zappa would be very amused and bemused (as he was in his “Real Frank Zappa Book”) that the “took a shit onstage and ate it” urban myth still has legs. If you wanna swap someone for Albini/McLaughlin try Sun Ra, the furthest out a man ever got without drugs.

  18. In order to be truly straight-edge, you have to not drink alcohol, too. And one wonders if some of the ppl on this might not have been partakers at one point, and then quit, which doesn’t really count. Well, it does, but… once you’ve done it, it’s hard to go back.

  19. I think you can have examples for being both out of your tree and not and come up with some classic music. Lemmy from Motorhead once said that he and all musicians started doing drugs simply to take something to get you to the next gig, be more comfortable with other people in what is often an uncomfortable unusual situation in touring with a group of people. That’s how it can start, less recreational drugs and more functional drugs. The key is knowing where to stop.

    I could never understand people that would make the jump from speed to heroin for example. Maybe that’s because I was a speedfreak, wanted to be at it all the time and couldn’t understand people that wanted to nod out in the armchair most of the night.

  20. Henry Rollins did go through a big LSD period, encouraged by the band to tame his violent stage performance. Was Angus Young not on heroin for a while?

    MELVINS are pioneers of sobriety too.

  21. Morrissey’s expirimentation with ecstasy in the 90’s is well documented. He once said, “The first time I took it was the most astonishing moment of my life”.

  22. Ian Anderson did not take drugs. Ian Anderson is thee GREATEST lyricist , flute player beyond extroidinaire , front man , vocalist , and he was self taught on every single instrument he has ever played ! ! ! Acoustic guitar , flute , glockenspiel , mandolin , etc. ! ! ! Best album of ALL TIME is Thick as a Brick ! ! ! Have seen Jethro Tull in Munich , Stuttgart , Philadelphia , and the Meadowlands in New Jersey. God Bless Ian Anderson.! ! ! Peace…………# 1 Jethro Tull fan of all time.

  23. You forgot Mariska Veres of shocking blues.

    She never smoked, never drank nor did drugs.
    “She never drank, smoked or experimented with drugs.”

    Ted Nugent already done drugs.
    Q: “Are you still a hard case on drugs?”

    A: “Real hard. I have never done a drug in my life. I have never smoked a joint in my life. I took two tokes off a joint with the MC5 one night and almost gagged and thought it was stupid. And that’s it. I took two tokes off a joint once. I snorted one line of cocaine. And one line of crystal methedrine before my draft physical — but God, that was worth it because I wanted to see the look on the Sergeant’s face. That’s it for drugs.”

  24. Iron Maiden are famously anti drug. In fact, Dickinson took his kids on tour to put them off drugs for life by showing them the drugged up roadies that would come along.

  25. This claim of “non druggy” is absurd, if not outright ridiculous.

    For example, Frank Zappa was quite well know to use nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine.

    If that’s not a multiple drug (ab)user, I don’t know what is…. let alone “what is” your agenda in perpetuating some kind of “establishment condoned” bullshit.


  26. I would say most of that is completely nullified by Brian Wilson. He made better music than everybody except Frank Zappa and Steve Albini, to whom I would say he is equal.

  27. P:EASE in the interest of accuracy and fairness, Let’s do keep one tiny thing in mind as we discuss these folks …they are PEOPLE and people, ALL fricken people DO LIE! Someone cranks out amazing psychedelic stuff and CLAIMS they never did use at least psychedelic drugs ? Now WHY would a person lie? Well let’s think about it folks…why did YOU lie when you DID lie? Let’s number just a few possibilities, for parent’s sakes, sibling’s sakes, grandparent’s sakes, not to mention SPOUSES, girlfriends, boyfriends…hmmm fellow band members, mentors from various parts of one’s life, teachers, pastors, etc etc….how about for the sake of business arrangements and signed agreements where it could COST big time? How about simply as WISE people that want to avoid the nasty attention of various anti drug countries where one wants to tour?

    For me? When someone really steps up on the box swearing “I NEVER…whatever”? Me thinks perhaps they protest a little TOO much…ya know?

    The flip side of course is that you just know that all kinds of celebs with dark reputations, NEVER even earned them! They were just happy as hell for the BUCK EARNING bad boy image…not that there are not always the real deal total druggies too but I’m just saying that IF someone dedicates them self to living a lie, they very well COULD get away with it forever as far as the public ever REALLY knows…how many of us grew up with (or STILL know) someone that led/leads two polar opposite lives, one for these folks and another for their family or employer or whoever…it might sound real good but I am NOT buying it simply taking someone’s word for it… Hey, If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…. You ought not bet the farm that it’s really a chicken just because some know it all swears to it…The Bible says (and I do BELIEVE it!) in Jeremiah 17:9″The heart deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know”?

  28. For the the record ALICE COOPER (Vincent Furnier) NO DRUGS

    But I digress… Drugs have a purpose. Some may think a “drug-free” musician represents the highest form of creative genius. It certainly represents a unique discipline and professionalism rarely seen in the RnR genre. But let’s be honest… Drugs improved all of our lives. It is the abuse that muddies the water. The Beatles The Who Led Zeppeliin Rolling Stones Hendrix Clapton Joplin and on and on. There are numerous examples where drug use AIDED in the creative process. It is the abuse that became the downfall. Honestly I’m sure at some point there was some regret, and some pride. And as it has been stated if nicotine and caffeine don’t count well a drug free musician is quite the anomaly. Now let’s make a “sex-free” list. I’m pretty sure all your favorite RnR Heroes failed that abuse test. And don’t you dare argue the indulgence of that delightful taste doesn’t have consequences. Rant over.

  29. nena never did drugs. Neither did Cat Stevens after his conversion to Islam.

    Surprisingly Pink Floyd were oddly drug-free, especially for a band that is loved by stoners everywhere.

  30. The artists on no drugs have music that’s 2-dimensional though, not a lot of real depth. Even Frank Zappa, yes he could sequence maddingly fast orchestral blitzes but it’s still sucky morse code for the longhairs.

    I also agree with the OP’s take on Ted Nugent, and his Call of the Wild who had not the dignity to even dodge the draft or conscientious objector but instead sh*t his pants for a month to be ineligible. Tough guy.

  31. Here are some I surprisingly don’t see: U2, R.E.M., Rush…
    I heard all those bands for the most part were drug free.

    I was also shocked that Queen and Deep Purple were always both excluded on these kinds of lists. Those two bands were definitely drug free for the most part I heard.

    • Oh, and I also forgot to mention Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony. I’m surprised those two musicians have been excluded from these lists, while all the other members of Van Halen had done a few drugs.

  32. Here are some others that should be included: Van Morrison, Bob Seger, Pearl Jam (in contrast to all the other grunge bands of the time), Bon Jovi (minus ex-guitarist Richie Sambora), metal singer Ronnie James Dio also didn’t have many substance abuse problems.

    • Oh yeah, don’t forget, Peter Gabriel. I also believe that any band from the late 70s-early 80s classic rock/arena rock era was definitely drug free (Boston, Foreigner, Styx, Journey, Cheap Trick, Heart, etc.)

  33. There are many others as well… like it should be worth mentioning that there are musicians out there who used to drink and/or do drugs but are now sober – Alice Cooper (never really did drugs, he just drank during the first half of his career), Glenn Hughes, Steven Tyler, Duff McKagan, Phil Collen from Def Leppard (never did any hard drugs, as far as I know; at least I heard), Slash, Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Eric Clapton, etc.

    • And, Steven Adler, Nikki Sixx, Lemmy Kilmister (he’s no longer with us, but still), Dave Mustaine, Keith Richards and the list goes on and on and on…..

  34. Kiss “non-druggies”? Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were two of the biggest cokeheads in the business, and Paul Stanley was quite the user as well.

  35. Well, I for one did every drug there was in the 70’s into the 80’s. Without a doubt, Quaaludes were thee best drug ever. Period. I norted half of Peru, starting using Cocaine in 1977, before it even became “a thing”. Cocaine, along with Heroin and the opiates are without a doubt the most insidious drugs out there. They isolate you, and if you get hooked, you will do anything out there to get your next fix. I loved the Psychedelic drugs, blots, spots, & micodots— Shrooms, Mescaline, & DMT have been very rewarding to me. They really opened me up to all the bullshit that’s out there in the world. As far as music and drugs, there is, was, and will never be ANYTHING in this lifetime for me, that was better than dosing and traveling town to town, city to city, state to state with The Grateful Dead. I have 350 plus shows under my belt, the first one way back in 1974. At 64 years old, I’m in the stretch run of life. If I can say that there were/are 2 drugs that NOBODY should EVER do, that would be alcohol and cigarettes. They do the most damage in the long run, PLEASE don’t smoke!

  36. Henry Rollins did acid once but wasn’t impressed by it. He thought about that experience and said, actually, he’d rather “drink a bucket of paint!” Yes, Henry Rollins is known for being sober. Frank Zappa loved to mock psychedelic music. He was a good composer and musician so a lot of people, myself included, thought he did psychedelics. Zappa was sober. He did have a lot of coffee and cigarettes, though!

  37. Tool is generally regarded as, or praised for, being a sober band. But they have a living (and loving) connection to DMT. Alex Grey, one of their main artists for their last three albums (album covers included) does nearly all of his artwork under “spiritual” inspiration. With his love for religions, Grey always is unafraid to talk about subjects that are mystical, such as his experiences with LSD and DMT (DMT, a very powerful but short-lasting hallucinogen)…

    The song, “Rosetta Stoned” references “Yogi DMT” (some fans think this references Ayahuasca, a plant drink that contains DMT and is made to last much longer, with special ingredients added to it so it is not absorbed by your stomach but lasts hours instead of minutes).

    Finally, Al Jourgensen of Ministry claims he used to live with Tim Leary and brought with him liquid LSD from those experiences he carried around in a whiskey bottle. He handed it to Tool. Later he found out it was Maynard and Paul D’Amour (bassist from Undertow and Opiate) who called, panicking, after three days of terrible nightmare trips, which seemed to happen without explanation until they finally decided something seemed off and they should try to figure out what happened.

    This was between Undertow and Aenima, Aenima being considered a major change of sound in the band. Rumors state that probably Maynard, Danny, and Adam did psychedelics, with people assuming that Danny and especially Adam did the most. Nobody knows about Justin. Personal opinion, my guess is he probably tried them. But, given Maynard’s views, it’s probably safe to assume this band keeps it clean. Exception being in Maynard’s wine, which is not harming his latest #1 album!

  38. Tom Petty I think used drugs at certain points but he also wrote songs against drugs.
    I think Refugee is about how the young people in this country suffered from the baby boomers
    and capitalists of the hippy Generation. You don’t have to live like a Refugee. Also Even the Losers
    is not about drug use but about how the young of Petty’s generation used Summer nights, Car rides
    and rock and roll as a way to deal with life.

    I feel Tom Petty was like a second Bob Dylan. But to me Tom petty’s songs like Don’t come
    around here no more, Last Dance with Mary Jane, You don’t know how it feels were like blues
    songs not to tell people what pot was like.


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