Remember when anybody who was anybody smoked cigarettes? That formula applied across the board, but especially to artists, and then even more especially to rock stars and popular musicians in general. It’s hard for us to imagine now, given the status of cigarettes in modern society, but for a very long time it was simply taken for granted that all the baddest rockers were carrying packs of cancer sticks.
And not, as General Jack D. Ripper might say, without good reason. Take a look at some old photos of the biggest groups of the sixties, seventies, eighties, and even the nineties—they were as inseparable from their cigarettes as they were from their instruments. Zeppelin, Dylan, the Stones, Sabbath, the Clash, Nirvana, the Chili Peppers, Queen, the Doors … I could but will not go on.
While plenty of contemporary musicians still indulge in tobacco, cigarettes are far from the ubiquitous vice they once were. It took time, but most people, including rock stars, have come to the conclusion that incurable lung cancer is a pretty heavy price to pay to look slick.
Enter e-cigarettes, which are taking western culture by storm. Touted by health experts, including those working in the British government’s Department of Health, as a safe alternative to smokes , vaping is being adopted by people from all walks of life. That includes movie stars, athletes and musicians, among many others. Whether the idea is to kick tobacco or kick back and luxuriate in an array of rich flavors and aromas, e-cigs deliver the goods.
We don’t know whether Dave Grohl is an avid vaper, but the video for Foo Fighters’ 2017 single “Run” suggests that he might be. In it, Grohl plays the part of a restless retirement home resident who leads a revolution of old folks. After breaking out of the home with his fellow geriatric mutineers, Grohl nabs a vape pen from a frightened young man and takes a sizable pull off it, exhaling a sprawling cloud that would probably take first place in a vape competition .
Among the many other high-profile musicians who have made the conversion to vaping are Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction), Courtney Love (Hole), Robbie Williams, Paul Weller (The Jam) and Barry Manilow. Navarro, a lifelong smoker, has come out publicly in favor of e-cigs, revealing that they helped him quit smoking after numerous unsuccessful attempts over the years.
Lest anyone still feel inclined to dismiss vaping as a sort of lightweight imitation of combustible cigarettes, consider that e-cigs are being embraced by the metal community—the hardest rockers in the business.
Testament’s Chuck Billy, for instance, has his own line of vape pens called Lord Vaper Pens—a perfect match for the premium vape juices cooked up by mythic metal legends Gwar. Despite, a metal group out of Sweden, have a vape juice of their own as well.
In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin’. Out with smoke, in with vapor.