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Music Figures to Join War on Booze, Drugs

February 08, 1989|STEVE HOCHMAN

If a group of music industry figures is going to gather at 8:30 in the morning, it probably has to do with some combination of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, right?

Drugs and alcohol will indeed be the draw this morning at Le Mondrian hotel in Hollywood, but not that way. Radio personality Shadoe Stevens, producer Tom Werman, musicians David Crosby and Tommy Lee and other music bigwigs will be meeting for breakfast not to further music's notorious cycle, but to try to put the brakes on it.

The a.m. powwow--to be hosted by Joe Smith, Capitol-E.M.I. Music Inc. president and CEO, and attended by leaders from all segments of the music business--is being held to introduce BizRap, a nonprofit chemical dependency program designed for, and funded and implemented by, the music business.

While testimonials from recovering rockers have become fashionable in recent years, this vent--to feature speeches by Crosby, Motley Crue drummer Lee and jazz musician Stan Getz, and reports from record producers on how much money drug and alcohol abuse costs the industry from lost studio time and other mess-ups--is unprecedented.

"We're looking for seed money (at the breakfast)," said Maureen O'Sullivan, a music events producer and member of the BizRap board of directors. "We will have benefit concerts in the future, and are looking for donations from record companies and musicians. This will be musicians helping musicians."

Organizers are estimating that an annual budget of more than $650,000 will be needed to run the BizRap program in Los Angeles, which will include in- and out-patient recovery facilities and a full staff. Plans also call for branches in New York, San Francisco and Nashville.

In the film and television industry, two such programs already exist, one run by the Motion Picture and Television Fund and centered on the Studio 12 recovery home, the other funded by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. All services are free to the members of the organizations.

But in music, where drug use has at times been considered a given, no union or industry infrastructure exists to provide such needed services.

"The thing about sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll is bull and destructive," said Scott Fagan, the Culver City-based BizRap's founding director. Fagan, 43, who describes himself as a "third-generation alcoholic and third-generation musician," pinpointed the need for such a program when he began his own recovery 11 years ago and found no resources in the music industry to help him.

"I identified that we needed some artist-appropriate recovery assistance," Fagan said in a recent interview. "Most people in the music and record industry are not covered by third-party insurance carriers. It is an industry of independent contractors, and as such, they don't have access to recovery services. There are no inpatient detox or quality outpatient programs, and there is no recovery home for people in the music business, and there are no employee assistance programs to bring them to treatment and recovery."

With that in mind, Fagan detoured from his music career (which included writing the 1971 rock opera "Soon," which he says was the first rock opera on Broadway) and enrolled at UCLA, where he became a certified dependency counselor. In January, 1987, using the film and TV industry's programs as his models, Fagan began to assemble a board of directors and a board of advisers from members of the music and medical communities. He sought contributions from industry corporations and individuals and is now ready to launch BizRap.

Following today's breakfast, the first priority is to start a referral and counseling service to direct music industry professionals--be they secretaries, roadies, musicians or executives--to existing recovery programs. Ultimately, Fagan's goal is a program as thorough and effective as the film and television industry's.

According to BizRap director Dr. Michael Meyers, medical director of the Choices Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City (and a recovering drug and alcohol dependent himself), the most important thing to change is the attitude within the music industry.

Meyers describes the music industry as featuring "access to excess" and claims that the very structure of the business, especially the star-making machinery, often discourages people from seeking treatment.

"Addiction is a disease of irresponsibility and if people have a support network to pick them up and dust them off and tolerate their behavior, there's no reason to change," Meyers said, citing some of music's more famous drug-related losses, including Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. "This is an attempt to educate the business that as long as actions are diametrically opposed to what people need, they will continue to crash and burn."

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