A friend writes, “Fuck everyone who's like ‘Ohhh, somebody slipped me something once in what I thought was just a joint and then [shivers] I don't know what happened!’ Pussies. PCP is what separates the courageous from everyone else. There is valor in PCP. This is what all non-sherm enthusiasts do not seem to understand.”
Lovingly hand-printed on cream card stock and stained with the author’s tears, this letter’s touching sincerity got me wondering about sherm. Over the years, musicians have attributed some of their best ideas to, and sometimes proselytized for, marijuana, acid, and purple drank—among other substances. We all have to suffer the woeful effects of cocaine abuse on some ubiquitous rock productions of the 70s. Why not PCP? Where is the rebel gang of sonic visionaries who used angel dust to unlock the doors of perception, before tearing them off their hinges and using them to beat policemen to death? Who is the Phil Spector of PCP? Who’s its John Lennon or Jim Morrison? Don’t give me some moralistic shit about the ill effects of the drug. Sipping too much purple can kill you stone dead, but a whole culture extols its use.
The Butthole Surfers’ classic Live PCPPEP is the only case that comes to mind of a band advertising a connection with angel dust, embalming fluid, hog, love boat, lovely, ozone, rocket fuel, sherm, shermans, wack, wet, or wiggles. Bizzy Bone is rumored to have a jones for the stuff as well. The DEA’s website advises that “PCP is considered a ‘club drug’ and is abused by young adults involved in the ‘rave culture,’” but I just can’t listen to that shit, not even for research purposes. Not even when I’m getting paid.
The great James Brown did not advocate drug use—consult his 1970 public service announcement “Fight Against Drug Abuse” and 1972 song “King Heroin”—but he did like to get wet. Dust was a major factor in the events of September 25, 1988, the day Brown, wielding a shotgun, marched into an insurance seminar in Augusta, Georgia and demanded to know who had been using his office bathroom. The high-speed chase that followed took Brown and his pursuers into South Carolina, where the Man shot out his tires. After driving six more miles on his rims, Brown surrendered. He must have performed under the influence at one time or another, but what recordings capture the definitive shamanic James Brown PCP trip?
A gentleman once offered me PCP in an apartment in Flatbush, but I politely declined, whereupon he was immediately at pains to assure me that he never touched the stuff. Since this person was, at the time, in a state of full-blown drug psychosis, and had entered the apartment on the flimsy pretext that he would like to borrow the toothbrush of its tenant, whom he had never met, I listened to his claim with a skeptical ear. But if there had been an instrument in the room, or a beat to spit over, and if I had not been afraid that this total stranger was one wrong move away from tearing open my abdomen and eating my intestines, I would have asked him to play, and then I might have known what tunes the angels sing in the ears of dust fiends. Research in this field is needed: what does “Gloria” sound like coming from a singer who has just smoked a sherm stick? But, alas, funds are lacking.
Do YOU know of a band or musician that recorded under the influence of dust? Please, type it in the comments text field. I will not respond because I cannot read.
Previously – Moe's Mailbag #1