After Peps sniffed China White with Sheila that night in Chicago, still on the road with the Kenton Band. After sniffing "H" Peps was a shark released into the ocean from Sea-world. He bought a sack full of heroin caps for the road.
Peps continued to sniff and the stash lasted him for 3 months. The band worked hard for Kenton and never had time off. Opium haze was Peps, like time in Das Wunderland or either-land . Using really did help him to explore new orbits and parameters for riffs that you can't really experience ( I use the word " experience here as Jimi Hendrix might in " Have You Been Experienced"), without going to the depths of junk funk. The list of artist who have used junk as a way to reach further in is long, need I name a few? Byron, John Hammand, Coleridge, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Burroughs, Keith Richards particularly, The Rolling Stones, to name a few.
" Before the world was clouded, but being on heroin for me was like being in the desert and seeing the stars after living in the city all your life." Peps speaking on getting high.
Peps was junk sick when he ran out, he tried to buffer it with Codeine, bennies and booze. He was sick and knew he wanted back to the cool junk paradiso. There was a guy in the Kenton Band named Blinky. He walked around like he was jazzed all the time, looking like a trap set with the symbol sizzling, itching like Ray. Peps asked him if he knew where they could score? It was in Compton, California, they were in Glendale. It was a long drive and at the time there was no freeway system. Pep was ready to go and they drove out to a guy named "Sids" house.
The drive was painful, Peps drove. When they got to Sid's house, the thought of scoring was a relief. Peps told Sid he just wanted some to he could get rid of his junk sickness. Sid asked Peps, " where do you fix man?" Peps said I don't fix. Sid said I don't have enough to waste it horning (sniffing).
Peps didn't really want to graduate to shooting but it took three times as much if you horned. Sid said if you want something u are going to have to shoot man, Peps gave in and agreed to shoot. Peps didn't want to mainline because that was where the cops always looked. He asked Sid if he could shoot him in the shoulder s. Sid used a cap or two, and put the powder into a spoon. He took a few drops of water, and put it in a spoon and cooked it. He took the needle off the syringe, sucked up the juice with some cotton, drew it out with the syringe and then put the needle back on. Blinky tied up Peps with a belt.
After the boost peps knew it was all over, man there is nothing like this he said to Blinky. They went to a drug store and bought some hypos. The drive to Sids that was misery was Undervasser Wunderland on the way home.
After Peps got his hypo bag together and caps, it was his thing. He still smoked ganja and drank, the chemical bag feel of opium haze made him feel so fucking cool.
Art's fame as "the" premiere saxophonist in the world grew, he started cutting albums. Listening to a 1955 single, " Close Your Eyes" it sounds like he recorded it in a junk house somewhere in LA. It has the feeling you would get if you spent the night drinking
and talking to Buk while he wrote in one of his flop houses. LA urban on the edge in a empty white room with a cheap kitchen table made of metal and plastic, and I mean remote. Latter junk surfaced when Miles gets on and records " Round Midnight in the early 60s. Of course Chet Baker's, another addict and another incredible story, music had this same dope remoteness.
Aside: To get the feel for Peps, I just downloaded "Smacked Up" a bold name for a junk to put on a album. After release of Smacked up in 66 Peps actually got busted and had to do heavy time for dope. More on that latter, it is a great album, and Peps plays like nobody I have heard, his timing is syncopated in but on different grove. The Piano sounds like lounge music until Peps starts playing, you can feel the junk in his viens and brain when he blows and it is way hep baby. The six note ending of "Mainstream" gives you the feel that the broad stripping in the club has just thrown off her last boa and is nude. It's like, tat tat tat tat tat teeeeeeeeee. Smacked up is way kinked, and it has a sound that sizzles more that Miles work. For allot of aficionados I am going out on the limb, but Peps was as phat and kinky as them come. His work also was a harbinger to allot of the Pablo label stuff, way ahead of it, but not many, not even Miles went to the edge or in the edge and can touch Peps. Haden, Jarrett, Methany and that lot. Winton Marsalis can play till his black ass turns blue and never get the rawness of Pep. Even the standard "Maybe Next Year" on Smack Up, is so straight ahead and out of time, raw, it gives your the feeling you are popping a few cups with peps. So the narcs busted Peps, without considering the beatific and beautatious album he put out. Welcome to America, where Nazism is first and art is somewhere on the outhouse floor.
" For the gentle introverted artist, mentally tortured artist, and for all the Art Peppers. Straight society has sanctioned a law that "thou shall not use this way out." Because he sought whatever release heroin brings and found it his personnel panacea, the musician became a criminal in the eyes of the law, and the law is absolute."
To the narcs who may have arrested him, to the judge who may put him in jail the rest of his life. To the Federal Narcotics Commission that who expressed contempt of the life's of all addicts, the life of Art Pepper may be summed up by cynicism. File closed on one junkie. To those who were please by and love his music it is "File closed on one artist" "
Downbeat Magazine 1960
Peps got busted in the regular narc gumshoe way of the 60s. It seems as though it was general knowledge that certain famous entertainers were junks. Peps, Ray, Chet Baker, Bird. The shoes stacked out Peps for a few days and then went in for the bust. Pep went to score at 1113 Stone Ave. in La, and when he came out the shoes jumped him with a ounce of heroin. The stash was only worth a lousy $240, but Peps was a three time loser so he faced 5 years to life. As Ray usta say, man I cook my stuff, I never miss a gig or a note, I pay my taxes, What business is it of the government if I want to take a taste?
Of course the shoes weren't giving out methadone so Peps had kick cold turkey that night in cell 11-D2. Of course in no way is the Alice in Wonderland trip worth the monkey on the back . You lose everything including your soul. But you can explore some real range playing notwithstanding.
So Peps finally made it to San Quentin, he got off with 6 years, could have been worse. His first roommate in number one cell, the biggest one the floor was a old booster buddy named David. Even though Peps had kicked by now, he was still thinking how nice it would be to take a taste in the joint. I think Peps really like junk, it wasn't a struggle cause he wanted to do it, he got addicted when Mitti drank drano to abort Peps in he was in her womb.
Peps was so street wise he adapted to the joint well. He ran David in the yard and asked him if he was holding, David said yeah, I got a keester stash. But I have to wait till tonight to get it at because they are watching me real close. Peps was clean at this time and could have tried to use jail time to rehabilitate. He didn't have a second thought about cooking up with David if he could, what better way to escaped the grayness of jail. David and Peps were locked in the cell together at night. David shoots up first and Peps says " how is it?" David cooked some up in the spoon for Peps. Peps went ahead and mainlined, not thinking about the consequence. He felt so good getting off that he loved being in jail.
Peps keep scoring with Mexicans and Blacks in Quentin, who knew his sound, so jail time went by at a steady rhythm. So much for rehab.
After 6 years in San Quentin Peps got out. Peps just hid from his parole officer and the nalline tests so he could keep using. A few weeks latter the parole officer shows at Dianes door ( the chick peps was hiding with) and busted him for breaking parole.
They took him to Orange County Jail ( a place yours truly has spent some time) and ended up sending back to San Quentin. This was in the later 60s and Peps and there was no rehab. Peps wanted to use anyways, he wouldn't have lasted a minute in rehab, total failure to admit that he was powerless over junk, and only God could help him because junk was God for Peps. He felt and rightfully so that he was with God when he was tweaking.
Pep had such a sense of humor and was so cool about being in and out of the joint, he knew he could use in the joint so it was no deterrent. Peps laughed one day to himself thinking that he was a criminal now. So he figured he better get a tattoo and be a hep
He knew a Mexican guy in San Quentin that was good at tattooing, Victor. Victor tried to talk Peps out of getting his first tattoo. He said, look at me, I have been tattooing shit on myself all my life and wish I didn't have any of this on my body.
Aside: (I know the feeling my body is full of tattoos but I don't regret getting one of them)!
Pep wouldn't be talked out of and he started looking over Victor's "flash". The story of Pep's tattoo is perhaps one of the most famous stories about him. It is a piece of black humor. So Pep got a typical tattoo with of a flower with his old ladies name in the banner,
Diane. He loved it, the pain and the healing process took his mind of of being in the joint, but Victor warned him that once you get one you will never stop getting dem. Peps would take his shirt off in his cell and look at the tattoo in the metal mirror, admire it.
So this stint in Quentin, tattoos was Peps thing, he got one of the Pan playing a horn, a pied piper mythical character that could get whatever he wanted once he started playing his horn, particularly chicks to ball . Not unlike Peps. Here is the list of Peps tattoos.
2. Snoopy and Lion-us
3. On the right forearm he got a Chinese skull with a fu man chu smoking a
smoking a opium pipe.
4. A naked women squatting on his left breast.
5. Another naked lady doing the limbo on his back, showing her black panties.
And now the famous "I gotta feed my man tattoo" Dracula over his left mainline vein with his mouth open to the vain. They Peps figured he could say when he wanted to pop up, he baby wait a minute, I gotta feed my man, he is hungry.
end of Art Pepper part 2