Among the great jazz musicians who came to prominence in the ’60s, Herbie Hancock always seemed to be the most together. He easily adapted to fusion and funk and synthpop and Grammy-awarded singer-songwriter fare while his peers either died or got left behind. So it’s a little surprising to learn that Hancock spent a few years fighting a crack addiction. Today, Hancock has published a new memoir called Herbie Hancock: Possibilities. Part of the book deals with Hancock’s battle with the drug, a subject that I don’t think he’s ever discussed in detail before. Right now, Vulture has an excerpt about the first time Hancock tried crack. Here’s a quick taste:
For a while I managed to smoke only once every couple of months or so, and every time I did, I swore it would be the last. I made rules for myself: I’d never do it on tour, or when my family was around. And I never told Gigi — never told anybody, in fact, except the very few people I actually smoked with. I was super paranoid about being found out and having my career, and maybe my life, ruined.
But I just could not stop doing it, even though months would go by between sessions. I was sure I’d be able to quit at some point, but I had no idea how far in the future that might be. In the meantime, I guarded my secret and tried to keep things under control. As time went on, that would become more difficult to do.