Everyone knows the typical depiction of rock stars. They’re men and women who party hard and channel their existential angst into making timeless music. I propose to you, readers, that this active addict and alcoholic narrative is tired and played out.
Thankfully, there are also musicians who have a bit more positive image. That’s right, there are sober rock stars! The people below have struggled with their demons, often quite publicly, and emerged on the other side.
Find a list of popular musicians who are sober below. It’s my hope that this list, and the message of faith it inspires, will show people that drugs and alcohol aren’t necessary to be a creative genius.
After all, if Anthony Kiedis can write a song like “Under The Bridge” sober, well, that gives aspiring musicians everywhere hope! We don’t need to be messed up to make music, art, or anything else! All we need is a spark of creativity and follow through.
Perhaps my generation’s most famous sober musician, Eminem went to rehab a few times in the mid-2000’s. He’d been struggling with an addiction to Vicodin, Valium, Ambien, and other prescription pills for many years. Evidence of his struggles is documented through his first few CD’s.
After bouncing in and out of treatment, Eminem finally sobered up on April 20th, 2008. That’s three days after I got sober, so I’ve always held a soft spot in my heart for Detroit’s most foul-mouthed celebrity.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
While the entire band isn’t sober, front man Anthony Kiedis certainly is! His hard partying, actor father introduced Kiedis to drugs at a young age. Thus began Kiedis’ long career as both a musician and a drug addict.
His addiction, attempts at recovery, relapses, and eventual triumph over drugs and booze are documented in the bestselling memoir Scar Tissue. Kiedis got sober for keeps in late 2000 and has stayed that way ever since.
Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor is one sober dude! After struggling with social anxiety and grief in the late 90’s, Reznor turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with life. He eventually developed a dependency on cocaine and alcohol.
At one point, Reznor overdosed after sniffing heroin he believed to be cocaine. This publicized and embarrassing overdose led him to rehab in 2001. Since then, Reznor has stayed away from booze and drugs.
Ah, good old Eric Clapton – one of the greatest guitarists to ever pick up an axe and strum. Someone once spray-painted a piece of graffiti that claimed, “Clapton is God.” After decades of cranking out catchy, beautiful, and haunting music, he may well be.
Except, Clapton also struggled with addiction throughout his life. At the height of his musical career, he was buying huge quantities of heroin. He was also drinking uncontrollably. He sought help in 1987 and has been a shinning example of twelve-step recovery ever since.
In fact, he owns and runs a treatment center and a few sober living facilities throughout the world. Rock on, Clapton!
Much like The Red Hot Chili Peppers above, all of Social Distortion isn’t sober. Their front man and lead guitar player, Mike Ness, is sober.
The famous punk singer struggled with heroin addiction and alcoholism through the first twenty odd years of his life. In fact, the famous punk video Another State of Mind shows Ness all kinds of messed up.
Ness got sober in 1985. Since then, many of his songs have touched upon his experience with addiction and recovery. Ness has been open about his recovery and has definitely helped thousands of addicts and alcoholics learn there’s a way to live sober!
While most of the above musicians are pretty well known, Ramshackle Glory isn’t. They’re a small punk band based out of Arizona. Their lead singer goes by the stage name Pat the Bunny.
Pat struggled with addictions of all kinds throughout his life. Following a particularly crippling heroin addiction, Pat sought treatment in late 2010. Since then, he went on to form Ramshackle Glory.
In 2011, the band released a CD titled Live the Dream that deals with themes of addiction, alienation, and ultimately, recovery. It’s a must listen for anyone who likes punk music or sobriety!
What the Point?
That’s a good question! Why take time to write about a few musicians who are sober? Why highlight the spiritual path some rock stars have chosen to walk?
The answers simple – our culture glorifies drug use and drinking at every turn. On TV and the internet, in music and film. Everywhere you look, drugs and alcohol are treated as harmless at best or as some sort of creative muse at worst.
Clearly, this isn’t the case. For some people, drugs and booze are fine. For others though, those who suffer from addiction and alcoholism, drugs and booze are deadly. So, the musicians above, the shinning proof of sobriety, are beacons of hope.
We don’t have to drink and drug to be creative. Hell, we don’t have to drink and drug at all. If someone like Eric Clapton can sell out stadiums across the globe and still practice spiritual principles in his affairs – then we all can.