Ana Martins

Institute of Sociology of the University of Porto

A CODFISH IN THE SKY WITH SALT!? The representations of Portuguese media about the relationship between rock’n’roll music and drug abuse (1980-2018)

“ (…) Rock performances were popularly associated with all forms of riot and disorder – from the slashing of cinema seats by teddy boys through Beatlemania to the hippy happenings and festivals where freedom was expressed less aggressively in nudity, drug taking and general ‘spontaneity’” (Hebdige, 2002: 162). As we can see rock music has been linked to risk behaviors since her setting in the Anglo-Saxon scene (Guerra et al., 2016). Since early, music in general and rock music in particular became crucial in young people lives (Mulder et al, 2009a/b). So, the youth is an important age group when studying this kind of subjects. According to Vuolo et al (2013) and Calado (2007), music mirrors the main social and cultural events that happen in our life, like our feelings, our problems and our substance uses. In this sense, the music’s and pop-stars potential influence is so big, that some researchers believe that some music genres can be a stimulator in the initiation or maintenance of drugs use (Mulder et al, 2009; Fernandes, 1990). The musicians themselves are frequently linked to substance and drug abuse (Miller & Quigley, 2011). In this particular field, there are countless links about these subjects in rock lyrics, music videos or performances, as we can see in ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ – The Beatles; ‘Brown Sugar’ – The Rolling Stones; ‘Needle And The Damage Done’ – Neil Young; ‘Light my Fire’ – The Doors… Recently, Ian Inglis (2007) wrote about musical legends, drug abuse, rock and roll overindulgences and bohemian life in rock music artists. In fact, these myths are very important in the fans day life, particular in teenagers’ fans, when search for a lifestyle model. This scenario happens with different variations in all occidental countries and Portugal is no exception for that. And we usually receive the information about the relationship between music and drugs mainly by the media. So it’s important to analyze and think about the way Portuguese media portray rock music and drugs use and abuse.

Keywords: Portuguese rock music, media, drug abuse


Ana Martins has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and a master’s degree in Communication, Art and Culture both in the University of Minho, Braga. Her master’s thesis was called “Rock in Portugal: effects of the rock music in Portuguese youth (1960 vs. 2014)”. At the moment, she’s a Sociology PhD student in Faculty of Arts and Humanities of University of Porto and a researcher in the Institute of Sociology of the University of Porto. As an FCT scholarship, she’s developing the following thesis “Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll: a route through the contemporary Portuguese society (1960-2015)”.