Let’s discuss drugs.
[Sounding perplexed] Why do you want to talk to me about drugs? I’ve done my share in the past, but I was never an addict. Anyway, go ahead… knock yourself out. [Before we can ask a question] The biggest lie is that drugs are not addictive; you see a bunch of your heroes doing it and think: “I guess there’s no harm.” But taking them will lead to the darker side. Nowadays the drugs are so bad you just don’t know what the fuck you’re getting.
During the 1970s it was almost de rigeur to have a drug habit.
Drugs have always been there. People thought that if you took them you’d be able to play like Charlie Parker, but they killed that cat in his thirties. I soon realised that getting liquored up before the show wasn’t a good idea either, but that shit creeps up on you.
So can drugs really aid the creative process? The Beatles were smoking while they wrote Revolver.
Maybe if you take the right amount of LSD you can write Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. But I’ve worked with Ringo [Starr] and he told me they never got high in the studio, so I know that first-hand. It’s like the myth about Toto being a bunch of coke addicts. If that were true, how the fuck did we sell all those records if we were that fucked up? Sure, we did drugs after hours, everyone did. In every recording studio I went into back then there were piles of the shit everywhere and, like I say, it was easy to get sucked into.
Do you regret succumbing?
Sure I do. I’m not here to glorify drug use of any sort to young, impressionable minds. If I could go back in time there are two things I’d say to myself. The first is: don’t do drugs. The second is: look after your money. It’s something that everybody who made records from 1972 onwards went through.
You cleaned up five years ago. How has your life changed?
The difference is like night and day. Everything is so much clearer. I’m singing and playing better, and I’m a nicer person. Being a musician on the road for forty years is an insane life. You get to a town and everyone wants to party with you. It’s their Saturday night, but for you every day is a Saturday. When you’re twenty years old that’s fine, but at fifty it’s a whole other animal.
Nowadays I get more done before 10am than most people do all day. I’ve got kids. My older ones and I laugh about those days, because they’d be stepping over bodies at the house – “Who’s that?” “Oh, that’s so and so.” But I want the younger ones to see their dad in a much better light. I’m thankful for the second chance and I won’t let it go lightly.