No Way, Sis
Further Reading:

In his introduction to Revolution in the Head, his 1994 book about The Beatles and the Sixties, Ian MacDonald, discusses the political developments of the 1980s, concluding that, 'What mass society unconsciously began in the Sixties, Thatcher and Reagan raised to the level of ideology in the Eighties: the complete materialistic individualism - and total fragmentation - of Western society'. Read a stimulating interview with the author in Dischord

Satirical US magazine, The Onion, reported the results of a controversial study that links the drug marijuana to sitting around and getting high. The study, a comprehensive five-year survey of drug use among Americans, also suggests a possible connection between marijuana and getting baked off your ass. A spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the alleged link between marijuana and Pink Floyd's The Wall, but was happy to agree that the album rules.

The biggest British band of the Nineties was fronted by the Gallagher brothers: Liam, a Stone Roses fan who fancied himself as a singer; and Noel, who had been working as a roadie for a Manchester group of psychedelic revivalists, Inspiral Carpets, and making music with the Inspiral's sound monitor man, Mark Coyle. In Getting High: The Adventures Of Oasis (Boxtree, 1997), Paolo Hewitt explained how Gallagher and Coyle would get together to write and record songs, but 'a lot of the time, the boys got so out of it that they often forgot to press 'record', or put in the wrong tape. "I'd go home... stoned out of my head after three days of being round Coyley's, and say, 'You should hear this song we did, it was ace, only you can't hear it because we taped over it because we were so stoned'." All those who did hear these tapes testified that the ideas and songs were great...'

As Oasis, the Gallagher brothers and their cohorts quickly perfected the classic rock'n'roll sneer and, once signed to Alan McGee's Creation records, they swiftly began to enjoy great success with a huge, updated wall of sound that was defiantly upfront while simultaneously harking back to the melodies of their heroes, the Beatles. As Oasis went into (Champagne) Supernova, the increasingly notorious bros were featured in the News Of The World colour supplement on 24 March, 1996 - 'Every other word is unprintable but brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher reckon they're up there with Lennon and McCartney'. The article quoted Noel's recollection of his early song writing efforts and his views on cannabis: "I was getting halfway through writing a line of a song and I'd fall asleep because I was stoned. The day I stopped was the day my life began. I was suddenly clear-headed. I wrote 50 songs in two weeks. People go on about smack and Ecstasy - I think draw is the scourge of my generation. I know loads of talented musicians who are still sitting in Manchester in their bedrooms, stoned, because they can't be bothered to get off their beep."

By his own admission, Noel Gallagher dreamt up fifty songs over numerous sessions of smoking pot, but was only able to express them - get the songs out of his head and onto tape - when he stopped. Among this batch was the anthemic ode to rock'n'roll fuel, Cigarettes & Alcohol:
"You might as well do the white line
Cos when it comes on top . . .
You gotta make it happen!

As Oasis got bigger and brasher, the bros' propensity for doing white lines to make it happen hit the headlines when Liam was arrested in November, 1996, after police found him wandering through the streets of London at dawn, dazed and confused after a night on the town and with a smidgen of coke left in his possession. The fast-rising star was ultimately let off in January, 1997, with a slap on the wrist by British authorities, who issued him a warning rather than jeopardise his chances of working internationally by prosecuting him for cocaine possession. Police insisted that the rocker received no special treatment: "It is common practice for first time offenders arrested for possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use, and who admit the offense, to be cautioned", a spokesman said.

Pop stars and their drug habits were in the news that January, as Brian Harvey, the teenage singer of boy band, East-17, was fired from the group after making indiscreet revelations about his own use of ecstasy. He'd 'fessed up to necking a lot of pills and driving under their influence. Called to comment on a BBC radio show on January 30, after Oasis had won yet another award, Noel Gallagher remarked that taking drugs was normal - "like getting up and having a cup of tea in the morning" - adding that, "as soon as people realize that the majority of people in this country take drugs, then the better off we'll all be."

Gallagher's remarks were condemned in routine, knee-jerk manner, by the usual array of reactionary commentators, but a succession of surveys in 1997 showed him to be correct. Taking drugs in general and cannabis in particular was seen as perfectly normal by a growing proportion of the British people. More than a third of teenagers had smoked at least one joint and the Rowntree Foundation, interviewing teenagers, found most young drug users to be sociable and sensible. Most were extremely knowledgeable about the substances they were taking, had given much thought to how their drug use fit into their lives in a larger context, and strongly disapproved of behaviour they perceived as being 'out of control'.

In fact, the average teenage drug user (and Oasis fan) in the UK was probably not unlike William Straw, the 17 year old son of the new Home Secretary, who hit the headlines at the end of 1997, when he sold a couple of grams of hash for ten quid to an attractive woman he was introduced to by a friend at a pub, but who turned out to be a muck-raking journalist. This was pure hubris, since Jack Straw had made a virtue of repeating the Prime Minister's mantra that the Government will be 'tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime.' At the victorious Labour conference in October he had reiterated the party line, telling delegates: "We are doing many things to tackle the drugs problem. But let me say what we are not doing: We will not decriminalise, legalise or legitimise the use of drugs."

Noel Gallagher's views on drugs didn't alienate him from New Labour, as the party was eager to cultivate as much street cred as it could get in the run up to the election. However, anyone who believed that the incoming Labour administration would have a more enlightened attitude to pot had not been paying attention: America had a sax-blowing President who had evidently held a joint to his lips, yet claimed not to have inhaled (later, Bill Clinton claimed that fellatio doesn't constitute sex!). Now, in 1997, the UK was about to install a guitar-picking Prime Minister, with a penchant for the works of Phil Collins, who somehow got through a University education in the Seventies without smoking so much as a single joint. When Tony Blair duly became Prime Minister, the outspoken Oasis star was invited to a celebrity-studded bun fight at No.10 Downing Street and, naturally, Noel Gallagher accepted.