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Intro to Drug Culture at a Led Zeppelin Show

Wide-eyed and Ready

Photo via Wikimedia Commons /

I was 13 or 14 when I went to see Led Zeppelin at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. It was a big stadium, used for Pittsburgh’s NFL and MLB teams.

We got there early and sat fairly high up.

I was with my friend Ed and the older, hip, long-haired soccer-playing teenager they had staying with them from Ecuador on an educational program, Pablo.

His English was not strong, so I didn’t know him well, but being as he lived at my close friend’s house, which was nearby, we crossed paths a lot.

It turned out that he knew all about weed.


We hadn’t talked about getting high, and although I had one toke when I was 12, I was really a virgin to the drug scene. Although I didn’t know it, I was ready to jump in.

The sound system played a bunch of Beatles songs before the show started. I remember thinking that this was as cool as it gets, with The Beatles warming us up for the live show, the great Led Zeppelin.

Pablo was scanning the crowd around us. After a little while, he got up and went away.

Before too long, he was back. He sat down, pulled out a bag of weed that he’d just scored, and some papers. I watched in amazement at what would become an endless routine for me was unveiled for the first time for me to see.

Of course Pablo added a few flourishes and quick grins for the benefit of me and Ed, and we lapped it up all up. I thought he was the coolest dude, probably ever.


So, we smoked. I was given some instruction on how to hold it in after a big inhale, and then to pass it on.

Of course, I coughed some. But I took to it, naturally. I’d been smoking cigarettes for a couple years, so I was used to taking in smoke.

I learned the technique of the big inhale, and holding it in, rather quickly. I wanted to get high, didn’t I? Well, that’s how you do it.


It got dark. Led Zeppelin came on. They did their thing. We liked it.


My high had my thoughts all over the place. I was paranoid. This was a manifestation that would dog me for years. I was afraid we’d get busted. I though that maybe my parents had followed us and were watching. Guilty, much? YEP.

I thought that my world would come crashing down when I got busted. Sounds like fun, right?

Let’s do it again!


It wasn’t all bad. I giggled. I dug the music. I felt cool. But I worried and looked around me. I hid my thoughts and fears, of course. I tried to forget them.

I’d forget them, but they’d come crashing back into my brain.

And so began my drug life. This cycle repeated itself for the next 17 years or so, until I got clean.

Weed and alcohol were the openers. Along the way, I did opium, hashish, hash oil, LSD, mescaline, crank, quaaludes, cocaine, heroin, speedball, THC pills (who knew what the hell that really was?), morphine, Angel dust, and just about any other garbage that crossed my path.


Weed and alcohol were my staples, along with cigarettes. That was my base.

Yeah, it was exciting at the Led Zeppelin show with Pablo doing his thing, and Ed and I jumping on board.

Ed never had the monkey get on his back. But, I did. I ended up with a gorilla on mine. It was a heavy son-of-a-bitch, and it wanted to kill me.

I managed to get out from under, though.


That night changed me. I crossed over from being an innocent to being someone who wanted to discover and use drugs.

The 70’s and a big-time rock concert was the stage where I, and countless others at countless shows, made that move.

How many of us succumbed along the way?

How fortunate am I to be here?

Could I have done it any other way?

Why did I make it?

I don’t know, but I hope I can help others to find their way out if they’re lost in the haze.


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