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‘It’s just not worth it’: Is this the end of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll?

By Shaad D'Souza

14 Aug 2023 · 6 min read

informed Summary

  1. The culture of debauchery and substance abuse that was once synonymous with the rock'n'roll touring lifestyle has reportedly been replaced by a safer, more enlightened music culture. This shift has been driven by increased conversations around substance abuse, consent, and mental health in the music industry.

For years, a concert tour was seen as the ultimate expression of the “rock’n’roll lifestyle”: a months-long bacchanal during which bands would sniff and swig their way across a continent, often leaving a trail of wreckage behind them. Oasis famously once split up on the road after Noel Gallagher went awol, the rest of the band having been supposedly supplied crystal meth by the Brian Jonestown Massacre; Led Zeppelin rampaged through groupies and hotel rooms on their infamous world tours, while In Bed With Madonna, the star’s wild 1991 tour documentary, culminates with a game of truth or dare in which she fellates a bottle and goads a dancer to show his penis.

In recent years – as conversations around substance abuse, consent and mental health have forced those in the music industry to consider the damaging nature of a lot of accepted rock tradition – that kind of touring-life debauchery has supposedly gone further and further out of fashion, replaced by a safer, more enlightened music culture. Which made it all the more shocking when, this month, Lizzo was sued by former dancers who alleged that, among other toxic workplace practices, the American singer encouraged them to dance with and touch naked strippers at a club while on tour in Amsterdam. (Lizzo denies all the accusations.) So has the culture really changed? Or has an ever-PR-driven industry just found better ways to hide all the shagging, drinking and drug-taking that still goes on behind the scenes?

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