Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s cocaine disaster at Wembley

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Very few concerts are best remembered for their drug usage rather than the live music, but the events that unfolded at Wembley Stadium on September 14th, 1974, is one of them. “People were shovelin’ [cocaine] in and you couldn’t get high off it. Before we went on, everybody had nosebleeds,” said special guest Joni Mitchell at the time.

We’re referring to a tour that has been since hailed as one of the biggest musical disasters: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s 1974 proclaimed ‘Doom Tour’. Until this point, CSNY hadn’t considered a reunion except for one moment the year prior when they came together to record a potential follow-up to Deja Vu, but the whole thing fell apart.

Therefore, before the launch of the 1974 tour, things were already heading down a strange path. As Stephen Stills told Cameron Crowe before the tour launch: “We did one for the art and the music, and one for the chicks. This one’s for the cash.” Thus, the four musicians decided to stage a reunion tour, enlisting help from luminaries like Mitchell, The Band, The Beach Boys, and more, with a view to cash in.

As you might expect, everything took a turn for the chaotic almost instantaneously. Along with the financial aspect, the heaps of cocaine available to the band was a major selling point when it came to embarking on a reunion tour. As a result, throughout the entire cycle, anecdotes of the weird and wonderful – mostly just weird – seemed endless.

Aside from telling Bob Dylan that all the songs on Blood on the Tracks were bad and Tim Drummond’s strange choice of shirt, the literal climax arrived at the end of the tour when Stills was apparently so far gone due to the effects of drug use that he started to believe he had been on missions with the US Marines in Vietnam. At this point, he was signing autographs “Stephen Stills, US Marine Corps”.

It seems like Mitchell’s account of everybody having nosebleeds seems minor when you’re aware of all the details, especially considering the fact that Neil Young had to think outside of the box to escape the madness and that dynamics between the band members were so fractured it seemed impossible they would be able to patch things up again.

All things considered, however, the tour did remarkably well. It somehow managed to surpass box office records and amassed a gross of around $11 million. Although it’s likely that the four musicians saw little of that money in the end, the tour, along with its final curtain call, went down in history as a major spectacle in the realm of historical rock moments.

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