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‘Pardon me, I'm very drunk’: alcohol, creativity and performance anxiety in the case of Robert Wyatt

  • Marcus O'Dair (a1)

Abstract

Robert Wyatt's relationship with alcohol is multifaceted. He acknowledges its deleterious effect on aspects of his personal life, most notably on his relationship with wife and creative partner Alfreda Benge, and he has been teetotal since attending Alcoholics Anonymous in 2007–8. In professional terms, however, Wyatt continues to view alcohol positively: as a means to overcome anxiety as a performer and recording artist and as an aid to writing. From this perspective, the fact that Wyatt has not released a solo album since sobering up may be more than mere coincidence. This paper aims to answer two questions. First, what is the evidence that alcohol can reduce anxiety for a performer and recording artist, and increase creativity for a songwriter? Secondly, what is the evidence that this is so in Wyatt's specific case? In answering these questions, the author will draw on secondary research, as well as interviews conducted with Wyatt and various associated musicians and family members between 2008 and 2013.

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