HOW HEROIN JUMPSTARTED AND ULTIMATELY DESTROYED THE CAREER OF CHARLIE BIRD PARKER
- October 18, 2018
Since 1924, the deadly drug known as heroin has been plaguing the streets of the United States and, even now, has been responsible for fueling the modern Opioid Crisis. This dangerous synthetic opioid (a copy of a naturally occurring substance in the opium poppy) is unpredictable and begins to wreak havoc as soon as it enters the human body. Only one or two injections are enough to induce chemical dependency. Once ingested, heroin quickly induces a powerful, euphoric “high” followed by a sense of calm (like an out of body experience) that has been described as dreamlike. However, in a very strange and dark turn of events, one man’s addiction turned out to be a springboard for his outstanding career. Let’s take a closer look at how heroin jumpstarted the legendary works of jazz master Charlie “Bird” Parker.
A Child with a Man’s Face
Born on August 29, 1920, in Kansas City, Kansas, Charlie “Bird” Parker had already started experimenting with heroin at the young age of fifteen. While partaking in shady deals to retrieve doses of the drug, Parker was attracted to the saxophone and tirelessly played the instrument during the day and night, often resorting to Benzedrine (a precursor to amphetamines) for a boost. From that moment forward, Parker’s life was fueled by the toxic mixture of heroin and speed. One club manager described in full-detail the effects of drugs on the young boy: as a teenager, Parker had the look and personality of a man in his late 30s.
Once he turned 16, Parker was already an experienced drug user when he started playing an open jam run by Jo Jones, a legendary jazz drummer. During the session, Parker played spitfire notes at a rapid pace, so fast that Jones was forced to throw a cymbal at the boy’s head to get him to stop. This moment inspired Parker to play at better venues, and he eventually earned a strong reputation with other great musicians including jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie (a regular marijuana smoker).
A Career Kick Started by Drugs
Author Martin Torgoff points out that, in a cruel twist of irony, Parker’s use of heroin and speed only fueled his incredible talent, allowing him to produce rapid-fire songs that transported listeners into wonderful worlds of sound and color. Bizarrely, Parker’s talent was also his curse. Eventually, Parker became infamous for downing bottles of whiskey while rattling through a heroin high, a join of marijuana hanging out of his mouth. Even more disturbing, the first three notes of one of his legendary songs “Parker’s Mood” were used as a secret code for musicians, who would whistle the tune when they wanted to buy drugs.
On March 12, 1955, at the young age of 34, Parker died after vomiting up blood, believed to be caused by stomach hemorrhaging and pneumonia. Nevertheless, his beautiful music lives on, despite his tragic end. His life is a perfect example of drug abuse gone horribly right (in a dark twist).
Always remember that drugs do not have control over your life. You do. Are you suffering from a substance abuse disorder or addiction? Do you have a friend or family member suffering from one or more of these debilitating illnesses? If you do, get in touch with Asana Recovery today. Our counselors and healthcare experts are ready to walk you through every step of the detox and withdrawal process and rehabilitation and guide you towards living a happier, healthier, and freer lifestyle. While the road to recovery might not be an easy road to travel, we promise to help you every step of the way. Take the first step to stay fit, healthy, and safe.
The time for you to take back control of your life is now. If you are interested in one of our residential treatment or supervised detoxification/withdrawal programs, we are ready and waiting to speak with you at your disclosure. Call Asana now at (949) 438-4504 to learn how to overcome your drug addiction and substance abuse troubles today.