The Italian glam rock band Maneskin won the Eurovision song contest on Saturday in stunning fashion. Their over-the-top, 80s-inspired rock music was a breath of fresh air in a contest dominated by pop tunes, so their win felt distinctly earned. However, a controversy broke over the weekend as many accused the band’s lead singer of using drugs during a televised segment in the green room.
Of course, the image of rock and roll is inextricably intertwined with over-the-top, gratuitous drug use. However, the band’s lead singer, Damiano David, was appalled at the allegations. He can be seen in footage during a green room interview leaning over a table, and his head is blocked from view for a few moments by a bucket between him and the camera. Moments later, a bandmate nudges him and he sits back up.
David told reporters that he hunched over the table for a moment to check on a glass that one of his bandmates dropped, saying he was looking at the broken glass. Some accused him of consuming illicit substances, likely cocaine. A reporter later asked David what he was doing, noting that people online thought he was taking drugs.
“I don’t use drugs, please, guys,” David said, appearing surprised with the question. “No, please don’t say that. Don’t say that, really. No cocaine. Please, don’t say that.”
The European Broadcasting Union took the allegations seriously and began an exhaustive investigation. David promised to submit to a drug test to prove he had not taken any illegal substances, and the footage was thoroughly reviewed.
The EBU investigation swiftly ascertained the truth of David’s statements, finding broken glass in the green room that corroborated his version of events. They also noted that the drug test came back negative, indicating he didn’t use any illicit substances during the Eurovision contest.
Fans of the band took to social media to express outrage that the band’s name had been slandered over rumormongering. The image of rock and roll as degenerate and decadent is well-worn in pop culture, so it’s easy to see how such a situation could have taken shape.
For their own part, Maneskin was more focused on their win than the controversy. During their acceptance speech on Saturday, they proclaimed “We just want to say to the whole Europe, to the whole world: rock ’n’ roll never dies.”