For the first time in his five-decade-plus career, Herbie Hancock has opened up about his struggle with drug addiction — namely crack cocaine, which the jazz icon discusses in detail throughout his new memoir Possibilities.
“For a while I managed to smoke only once every couple of months or so, and every time I did, I swore it would be the last,” he writes in an exclusive book excerpt on Vulture. “I made rules for myself: I’d never do it on tour, or when my family was around … But I just could not stop doing it, even though months would go by between sessions. I was sure I’d be able to quit at some point, but I had no idea how far in the future that might be. In the meantime, I guarded my secret and tried to keep things under control. As time went on, that would become more difficult to do.”
In a separate interview with NPR, Hancock explained how sporadic his drug use was, and why he made sure to separate it from his music. “I kept it to a kind of minimum,” he said, “because I was so afraid and embarrassed about what I was doing. I spaced things apart. I had long breaks between when I would ever, when I would do that. But this went on for a few years.”
Hancock eventually went to rehab and embraced the healing chants of Buddhism; meanwhile, he continues to redefine his music with left-field collaborations like the new Flying Lotus LP.
“He was kind of a gatekeeper in this concept [album],” FlyLo explained in a Wondering Sound interview, “because his enthusiasm really gave me the confidence to proceed. With everything he’s done, he’s [still] saying ‘Wow, you guys are doing some great shit.’ That made me feel good about going in and trying to make it the most dynamic and personal and fun and silly [record] I possibly could.”