VH1, in association with Sundance Channel, have produced the original documentary series The Drug Years, a four-part look at the rise of illicit drug use and its cultural impact in the second half of the twentieth century. Based on the book Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, by Martin Torgoff, The Drug Years premieres on VH1 on June 12 at 9:00PM* with encore showings on the Sundance Channel beginning June 16 at 8:00PM*.
Spanning the 1950's to the present, The Drug Years explores the development of a commercial drug culture in America, using archival footage and interviews to illustrate how popular culture -- including music, movies, comedy, television, and theatre -- both shaped and reflected public perceptions of illicit drugs.
The Drug Years also looks at how drugs became part of the nation's political landscape, from the youth rebellions of the 1960's to the War on Drugs and beyond.
This epic recounting of American drug culture is told through dozens of exclusive interviews with actors, musicians, journalists, policy advocates, former drug smugglers, and former drug enforcement agents. Exclusive interviews include Peter Coyote, Jackson Browne, Ray Manzarek from The Doors, Ice-T, Liz Phair, Juliette Lewis, Rob Thomas, Tommy Chong, Common, Richard Belzer, ?uestlove, Richard Lewis, Chuck D., Russell Simmons, B-Real, John Mellencamp and Henry Rollins.
The episode lineup for The Drug Years is as follows:
Episode 1: Break on Through (1950s-1967) -- The role played by drugs in the rejection of conformist America, a revolt championed by artistic and social subcultures including the Beats and the Hippies. The rise of marijuana use as a cultural and political statement, the advent of LSD, and other psychedelics, hailed by Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey, and embraced by free- thinkers, musicians and young people eager to expand their consciousness. This episode premieres on June 12 at 9:00PM*.
Episode 2: Feed Your Head (1967-1971) -- Drugs are now part of the schism between traditional America and the youth-fueled sociopolitical rebellions of the era, including the antiwar movement and the sexual revolution. Pot and LSD have arrived in films and on television, and the psychedelic generation expresses its idealism at Woodstock. By 1971, however, the psychedelic era has been eclipsed by death, darkness and Richard Nixon. This episode premieres on June 13 at 9:00PM*.
Episode 3: Teenage Wasteland (1972-1979) -- The Nixon administration continues its battles against the drug culture, linking it to political subversion. But drugs are part of the mainstream landscape and a rite of passage for 70s teens. Pot is more popular than ever, with swashbuckling smugglers, the popularity of High Times magazine, and a new era of drug humor by comedians like George Carlin and the hugely popular stoner duo Cheech & Chong. Cocaine becomes the glamour drug, beloved by celebrities, and spoofed by Woody Allen. This episode premieres on June 14 at 9PM*.
Episode 4: Just Say No (1980-present) -- As cocaine culture peaks, the pendulum begins its swing back to a more censorious perspective on drugs. High-profile casualties in sports and entertainment -- not to mention the arrival of crack -- contribute to the momentum for the Reagan administration's stepped-up drug war. Rap artists and producers deal with the devastating impact of the crack epidemic. Twelve-step programs are everywhere, but drugs aren't going away, and new favorites arrive with new eras: Ecstasy, Oxycontin, and Methamphetamine. This episode premieres on June 15 at 9PM*.
Producer/directors Hart Perry and Dana Heinz Perry are leading creators of documentary films and series related to music and popular culture. Their company Perry Films Inc., founded in 1989, pioneered music videos, music documentaries and long form video, and has produced over 50 films to date, including the recent Imagining America: Icons of 20th Century Art and the Peabody Award-winning John Hammond: From Bessie Smith to Bruce Springsteen. In 2004, Perry Films produced for VH1 the critically-acclaimed five-part series, And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip Hop.
Viewers can log onto VH1.com for exclusive VSPOT footage and to learn more about the series.