Since the early days of live music, cigarette smoking has been an integral part of the image of a touring musician. Being health conscious was never considered very “rock n roll” as many famous musicians touted their alcoholism, sex persona and cigarette addictions as paramount to their creative process. This trend was not exclusive to rock, but can be found in nearly every other music genre. Punk is known for a blatant disregard for any and all institutions, one of those being health and hygiene standards, so it would seem counter-intuitive for these folks to vape. But as Bob Dylan would sing, “the times, they are a-changing.” Between 2009 and 2014, the amount of people using vape juice has increased by 4,000% and the amount of smokers has dropped by 20 percent in the past several years.
The music scene hasn’t gone untouched by this trend and the scene itself is being transformed by it. In one of the Foo fighters latest music videos, “Run,” Dave Grohl is pictured in a nursing facility as an elderly patient. In one scene, he takes a deep drag off an e-cigarette, eclipsing the entire room with the cloud of vapors all while inciting riots between the other patients and staff in the facility. The agenda here is clear – to make vape pens and their use a little more accepted by the punk rock community.
The health benefits to this switch are obvious; with vaping being estimated by experts to be a 95 percent more healthy choice than smoking cigarettes. But the ease of use weighs in as a heavy factor with musicians as well. As the world begins to shun smokers, less and less venues, businesses and public spots in general are smoker friendly. For a musician, vaping might be the only way to get their fix without leaving the venue they’re paid to be at although musicians like Keith Richards have found a way around that by procuring an international exemption to cigarette prohibitions during his performances. For anyone who isn’t Keith Richards though, vaping makes more sense.
The music scene is slowly being shaped by the world of vaping as more and more musicians endorse the change, tout their use, or even make money doing it. Despite, a metal band from Sweden, recently marketed their own flavor of vape juice and every customer received a free download of their music on launch day. Gwar, a popular heavy metal band from America took it a bit further by producing an entire line of vape juice flavors with catchy names that reflect the essence of their music (I.e.: Spew, Immortal Corrupter, Jizmoglobin, etc). The vaping trend is so sweeping that a shop called Evolution Guitars just introduced a new line of guitars that features a built-in e-cigarette so your jam sessions and your smoke breaks never have to be separate endeavors again.
While a small majority of people still make up the cigarette smokers, there is venom being thrown towards the change in culture. Change is uncomfortable, but most would agree that music scenes need to be reinvented every decade or so to provide cultural relevance. Even more can agree that this particular change will provide lasting benefits to the scene, adding more days to the lives of our favorite musicians and giving their vocal chords a bit more longevity. Long live rock n roll.
See below for a list of other musicians who vape. Some may surprise you.
- Singer and song-writer, Lindsay Lohan made the switch back in 2011 and the story received an inexplicable amount of coverage as she was shot vaping for the article in Extra.
- Pop sensation, Katy Perry has been seen by the paparazzi very consistently hitting her e-cigarette.
- Courtney Love, one of the faces of punk from the early 1990’s, has redefined what it means to be grunge by taking up the pen.
- Barry Manilow, known for his raspy voice that was built on scotch and cigarettes, has quit smoking cigarettes by vaping and his band joined him in making the leap.
- The late Tom Petty was a proud vaper as he had started to consider matters of health in his last years.
- GWAR (see above)
- Despite (see above)
- Robbie Williams (Take That)
- Dominic Howard (Drummer from Muse) received some criticism from fellow musicians and fans when first seen vaping.
- Paul Weller (Lead singer of The Jam and The Style Council) has chosen to use vaping as a method to quit smoking and intends to wean himself off nicotine entirely.
- Bruno Mars
- Snoop Dogg
- Chuck Billy, vocalist for Testament, launched his own line of e-cigarettes called Lord Vapor Pens.
- Dave Navarro (Founding member of Jane’s Addiction)
- Foo Fighters (see above)