Appearances are seldom deceiving to the clear-eyed observer, and Peter Pettinger writes frankly in his fine new biography of what was no secret to Evans's appalled colleagues: The most influential jazz pianist of the past half-century was addicted to drugs -- first heroin, then cocaine -- for much of his adult life. He picked up the habit in 1958 as a member of Miles Davis's sextet, and despite occasional interludes of sobriety, it stayed with him, finally leading to his death in 1980. Pettinger, who died last month, was an English concert pianist who began listening to Evans as a teen-ager. He is as interested in his playing as his private life; his book is packed with so much shrewd critical commentary that it reads at times more like an annotated discography than a biography. But ''Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings'' is also the first full-length biography of Evans, and most readers will doubtless pay special attention to the grisly mparticulars of what the writer Gene Lees, who knew him well, tersely called ''the longest suicide in history.''
I’ve done my share of drugs, including the hard ones. I had a craving for experience. I used to tell my friends that the point of the drug game is not to be dead. A lot of them lost.