My name is Preston Hubbard. I was a rock
star, appropriate to both meanings of the word, if you catch my meaning. For 10
years, from 1984-1994, I was the bass player for the platinum selling,
multi-Grammy award nominated Fabulous Thunderbirds. Before that, I was with
Island recording artists Roomful of Blues, also Grammy nominated and the
prototype first backup band for the Blues Brothers. I recorded on Bonnie Raitt's
monstrous comeback record "Nick of Time", Stevie's final record while alive
"Family Style" with brother Jimmie, Big Joe Turner's final record, Toni Price's
"Swim Away", Duke Robillard's "Swing Time", and a host of others. And, of
course, five of the T-Birds CBS records, including "Tuff Enuff" and most of
Roomful's recordings. Having been a bass player since I was 14, there were many
other bands and records, but the aforementioned made the biggest mark.
I was also a junkie, a heroin addict, for
18 years. Which is not to say that I was a drug addict for only that amount of
time. Far from it! I had been drinking and doing drugs of some kind since I was
15 years old. Weed, reds, acid, coke, what have you. I came to heroin late, at
age 28, for some reason. But when I did, I took to it with a purpose! I had no
traumatic childhood, no injuries, nothing that I can directly blame my addiction
on. I just always loved drugs, loved getting high on something. Also, I came of
age in the 60s, was 17 during the Summer of Love, and was always in an
environment of artists and musicians which embraced the drug lifestyle
wholeheartedly. Remember, this was when it wasn't politically incorrect to get
fucked up, or not hide your substance abuse. All my friends and contemporaries
were, at one time, drug addicts and alcoholics. And lastly, many of my idols,
whether jazz, blues, or rock `n' roll artists, were junkies-Bird, Billie
Holiday, Coltrane, Hendrix, Ray Charles, Keith Richards, Paul Chambers, Lenny
Bruce, on and on. It was part and parcel with the life.
Music was always my first love, with women
and drugs a close second and my biggest weaknesses. I took from music, women and
drugs took from me, ultimately putting me on the proverbial roller coaster ride.
I went from 5 star hotels to living on the run in cheap motels, from king sized
beds in suites to palettes on the floor in junkie pads, from hanging with rock
and movie stars to running with street whores, junkies, tittie dancers,
crackheads, the whole gamut. I was a "playa", and the game was rough.
My big brother gave me my first shot of
opiates, a quarter of a #4 Dilaudid. I promptly fell down on the floor, probably
from the rush, and scared the shit out of him. But I came right up, thinking,
"This is it! This is the feeling!". It was like coming home, the best feeling I
could ever have imagined. A girlfriend recently told me that, neither of us
being religious, she envied people who found peace and tranquility through
religion. That's what heroin became for me-my religion, my peace and
tranquility, my veil between me and the world. But that, unfortunately, never
lasts. With that first shot, I entered a new world that I would inhabit for the
next 18 years, one that would see me go through numerous relationships, a
marriage, three bands, rock `n' roll stardom and a descent into losing
everything, including my freedom in a Texas penitentiary. What a long, strange
trip it's been!
I'm here to neither condone nor condemn
drug, especially heroin, use. I don't believe in the "war on drugs". It is an
extremely expensive sham, costing billions, and doesn't accomplish anything
beyond keeping the gangs and drug lords in business. And , of course, the police
departments, courts, legions of lawyers, rehabs, methadone clinics, prisons, and
the rest of the industries which benefit from drugs being illegal. Prison is big
business now, especially in George W's Texas, where we have 150,000 people
locked up, mostly for drug charges, with thousands more waiting in the county
jails. The United States last year far surpassed the old universally reviled
Soviet Gulag system, with over two million people in prisons now, not counting
county or city jails. Prison originally was a safeguard, a place for sociopaths
who were a danger to society. Not any more.
It is human nature to want to alter our
consciousness, but I think more so with artists, writers, and especially
musicians, who are thrown into an environment that lends itself toward excess.
Sex, drugs, and rock `n' roll ain't just a cute saying! Over the years, I sold
to doctors, whores, dealers, street junkies, rich kids, the whole gamut. But a
large percentage of my customers were always musicians, local and touring, rock
stars and unknowns, running the entire musical spectrum from punk to country.
Drugs make no distinction.
I have no regrets except for hurting the
ones I love and who love me. Fortunes can come and go. I have definitely put
well over a million dollars in my arms and up my nose over the years, lost
everything I owned, but came out alive with my health and my loved ones intact.
I've been very lucky and know it. As we junkies say "I got out alive". I do know
that I can never do another shot, another hit, ever again. Next time, I'm dead.
But I never was one for denial. I was a junkie and knew it. There was a time
when I thought that heroin was it, the way to nirvana, and I would expound on
it's virtues and gladly introduce anyone into the life. That particular way of
thinking changed a full 180 over the years to where I refused, and still would
refuse , to turn someone on to the drug. I have no regret or guilt about my
dealing days, either. People always came to me, and I gave them a good, safe
product for a good price. I took care of my own, truly, and was never a hustler,
a pusher, just making enough to support two or more habits, and day to day
living expenses. My fortune quickly disappeared.
"Dope game ain't no joke" was written above my bunk in Del Valle county jail complex. Truer words were never spoken. But, as I said, no guilt, few regrets. I've written all this with very broad strokes because of the obvious space limitations, but here is my story...