Music History

Where Did the Phrase “Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll” Actually Come From?

Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. How many times have you heard/seen/read that phrase in your lifetime? Hundreds? Thousands? I think the first time I was exposed to it came in the form of this Ian Drury and the Blockheads song from 1977.

Was the phrase Ian’s idea? He certainly can be credited for popularizing it, but it wasn’t his creation.

The first known use of the phrase can be found in a 1969 article in LIFE magazine: “The counter culture has its sacraments in sex, drugs and rock.” Then a British magazine called The Spectator wrote this in 1971: “Not for nothing is the youth culture characterized by sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”

However, the spirit of the phrase goes back centuries. Mental Floss looks at 13 variations on the notion of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.”



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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