Methaqualone: In the news

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 12:52 pm

In the late 1960s and 1970s, as methaqualone’s reputation grew to mythic proportions in the media, America’s Quaalude craze became apparent in the popular, and not-so-popular, music of the time. Syd Barrett, founding member and original guitarist and vocalist of Pink Floyd, was asked to leave the band shortly after appearing on stage heavily sedated and sporting a pomade of crushed Mandrax and Brylcream on his head. Fee Waybill of the lesser known The Tubes regularly performed as alter-ego Quay Lude in the band’s glam rock opera, “White Punks on Dope.” And in the song “Flakes” (1979), Frank Zappa takes a jab at Bob Dylan’s alleged frequent use of Mandrax with the lyric, “Want to buy some Mandies, Bob?” Zappa, who was staunchly anti-drug, refers to Quaaludes in one interview as a “way to make people artificially stupid.”
Methaqualone overdose also claimed a number of celebrity lives during this era. In 1972, Billy Murcia, drummer for the New York Dolls, overdosed on methaqualone during a concert and subsequently choked to death. In 1975, Anissa Jones, former child star of the television show “Family Affair,” died of an overdose of barbiturates and Quaaludes. While under the influence of Quaaludes, comedian Freddie Prinze died of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Other methaqualone users who died in the 1970s in drug-related circumstances include Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, and Elvis Presley.

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