The Verve Biography

One of the U.K’s biggest selling Indie bands of the 90s

Biography and Guitar Lessons

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The Verve

The Verve are a British rock band formed in 1989, in Wigan. Among their bigger hits, you find Bitter Sweet Symphony and The Drugs Don’t Work.

Since their first debut album, A Storm In Heaven, critics have always favored The Verve as one of the main 90s British rock acts.

After the huge success with The Drugs Don’t Work and Bitter Sweet Symphony, the band broke up in 1999. Ashcroft pursued a solo career until the 2007 reunion, which had its first tour sell out in twenty minutes.

Seen by many as one of the giants of British indie music of the 90s, The Verve made a big impact on English popular culture alongside bands such as Radiohead, Blur, Oasis, and Elbow.

The Drugs Don’t Work is not about illegal drugs

The Drugs Don’t Work has had a massive reach globally. When Ben Harper played it live as a cover and it ended up on his Live From Mars album, the song effectively broke America for The Verve.

As the title indicates, most people would have thought that it was an anti-drug song, which it is, but not in the way we may have first believed.

Originally having the meaning that drugs didn’t work for Richard Ashcroft’s father who was dying of cancer, the song had it’s meaning slightly tweaked in order to give off a more ambiguous statement.

The Verve politics

Being one of three massive hits (including Bitter Sweet Symphony and Lucky Man) from the album Urban Hymns in 1997, The Verve managed to cross over from indie to mass market during 1998.

Interestingly enough, the band had actually split up prior to the making of Urban Hymns which was their third record.

Luckily, Richard Ashcroft managed to quickly gather two new members and got the album finished.

Ashcroft pursued a solo career a few years later but he didn’t reach the same heights as with the band. However in 2007, when they reunited, all seemed to fall into place again.

Guitar Lessons

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we start looking at a new song in The Verve’s monster hit The Drugs Don’t Work.

The chords are all from the key of C. Let’s start by looking at the chord progression and how we can extend the chords.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 1.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 2

Let’s take a look at the strumming pattern for this song. We are dealing with a 16th note pattern at a slow pace again.

It’s the same pattern for all chords, even when there are two chords in one bar.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 2.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 3

Today you’ll learn a bunch of 2nd guitar part ideas for The Drugs Don’t Work.

These parts are picked one note at a time.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 3.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 4

In this last step, we fit a capo on fret five and work on playing picked and strummed parts as if in the key of G.

This then becomes a more creative 2nd guitar part that you can use when playing along with me and the singer.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 4.

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Chords and Guitar Lessons

The Drugs Don't Work ChordsThe Drugs Don’t Work is an easy song to play for a beginner having simple chords and a repetitive strumming pattern.

Using only simple open position chords it is only the F chord that may present a problem.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work chords and guitar lessons.


The Drugs Dont WorkAll this talk of getting old
It’s getting me down my love
Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown
This time I’m comin’ down

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work lyrics.

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