The best marijuana moments in music history, from Willie to Dre - Reverb

These go to 11: Marijuana’s greatest “hits” in the music industry

Willie Nelson, doing what he does best. Photo courtesy of

Willie Nelson, doing what he does best. Photo courtesy of

In honor of pot poster boy Willie Nelson’s show at Red Rocks tonight, we’re offering you a chronological compendium of the chronic as it has affected the world of music since the jazz age.

We’ll be blunt, Marijuana and music go together like couches, Doritos and Adult Swim cartoons. Fueling their creative juices and opening the doors of perception, artists have long sung its praises. It enhances the senses and lightens the mind…er I mean enlightens the mind.

So to all you midnight tokers, sit back, grab a snack and read on about Mary Jane’s many dances:

1. 1928 – Louis Armstrong’s tune “Muggles” is released. The title was slang among jazz musicians at the time. Thus it’s regarded as the first song to openly hail the MJ. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but maybe it’s also why Armstrong was later one of the first celebs to be busted for possession.

2. 1933 – The W.C. Fields film “International House” features Cab Calloway performing his classic “Reefer Man.” One of the last of the pre-code films from Hollywood, its highlight is the ever-dapper Calloway leading his band through a spirited, tuneful tale about a dude who prefers to puff.

3. 1957 – Having already experimented with pot, a young Jerry Garcia gets his first electric guitar. He then proceeds to play his first guitar solo, which one can only assume, lasts until 1959.

4. 1964 – Bob Dylan meets the Beatles in their hotel suite in New York and introduces them to pot. Ringo bogarts the joint and Paul giggles. A lot.

5. 1968 – Rocksteady and Ska fully evolves into Reggae as exemplified by the Maytals single, “Do The Reggay” which opens the door for the massive success of Bob Marley and the Wailers and Peter Tosh, among others. Long a part of Rastafarian culture, ganja readily comes along for the ride.

6. 1973 – Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is released. Though in no way endorsing smoking up, Floyd’s conceptual masterpiece about mental illness, greed and consumerism is a “head” headphone must. Engineered by Alan Parsons and brought about by the genius of Roger Waters, the LP is filled with trippy stereophonic sound effects and most importantly, brilliant music.

7. 1992 – Dr. Dre releases “The Chronic,” and in the same stroke, introduces the world to Snoop Dogg. Dre previously made his name as the producer of NWA. But he really stepped into the spotlight in making his own west coast G-funk record titled after a potent strain of hydro herb featuring vocals by a sleepy-eyed former crack salesman and instant sensation in Snoop.

8. 1993 – While touring their second LP “Black Sunday,” Cypress Hill features a giant bong on stage. Bonus points, in the same year they’re banned from “Saturday Night Live” when Muggs smokes a joint on-air. With songs like “I Wanna Get High,” “Hits from the Bong,” and “Stoned is the Way of the Walk,” Cyprus Hill truly kick start the blunt bandwagon in hip-hop.

9. 2001 – Afroman takes…er scores a huge hit with “Because I Got High.” Initially self-released, the tune gained steam via Napster and eventually reached mass consciousness as a pot anthem, despite the fact the hilarious lyrics really show how messed up weed has made his life. Irony or stupidity? You decide.

10. 2002 – Stoner Rock reaches the mainstream with Queen of the Stone Age’s “Songs For The Deaf.” A continually growing sludgy subgenre of heavy metal borne of Black Sabbath, stoner rock dates back to the early ’70s, but really gets a bump in the ’90s via bands like Monster Magnet, Electric Wizard and Kyuss. QOTSA, featuring former members of the latter, hit pay dirt with their third album chock full of bong-friendly heavy riffs, powerful drumming and catchy melodies.

11. 2008 – Longtime pot advocate, frequent accumulator of MJ misdemeanors and co-chair for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board Willie Nelson is interviewed and appears on the cover of High Times magazine.

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Michael Behrenhausen is a Denver-based writer, musician and regular Reverb contributor. The worst crime he ever did was play some rock ‘n’ roll.

  • Chacon71

    What about uneasy rider by Charlie Daniels…

    • Andy


  • Let Willie Smoke

    Willie smoked weed on top of the White House…This is nothing for the Outlaw…

  • Let Willie Smoke

    Willie smoked weed on top of the White House…This is nothing for the Outlaw…

  • Let Willie Smoke

    Willie smoked weed on top of the White House…This is nothing for the Outlaw…

  • Anonymous

    Willie can smoke all he likes, I used to and I can understand why he enjoys it, the reason I don’t smoke weed any more is down to the fact that those who sell it on to the final consumer became too greedy and started messing about with it, weed would be mixed with chopped herbs and stinging nettles and resin would be mixed with god knows what, poisonous carcinogens mostly, chemicals and other substances which just made the user ill, what with that and the ever increasing cost, when I started, a quarter ounce of Moroccan hashish cost just £8.00, when I stopped, a sixteenth of an ounce of the same hashish (I don’t know how much of it was proper hashish and how much was cut in crap), this cost £12.00, talk about inflation, that was in 1990, anyone smoking these substances now is taking one hell of a risk unless they are sourcing the product directly from the country of origin, Morocco, Lebanon, Afghanistan, the best resin hashish in the world comes from those 3 countries whereas weed? Nepal, Mexico, Morocco, Jamaica, really I would suggest that if you want to consume these products then your best bet is to go to the country of production where the product is untainted and considerably cheaper but before you say “Hey, isn’t it a bit extreme and expensive to go all that way for a smoke?” think about this, treat it as a holiday, you have to pay to go on holiday, why follow the sheep to the Spanish costas or any of the other tourist magnets where all you will find is burnt Brits who have had too much sun, too many English pubs and take away outlets and a whole lot of quietly resentful locals whereas you could go somewhere like The Lebanon where despite it’s history, the people are friendly and the weather is perfect, okay it may be difficult to get certain items due to the unlawful sanctions being imposed on The Lebanon by Israel who in turn are backed up by the British and the American administrations (America has protected Israel since 1967 so is it any wonder that a man such as Willie Nelson chooses to block his home political philosophy out of his head with marijuana?) but the quality, cost and abundance of the local product will make the trip well worth it and as a bonus, apart from the actual cost of getting to The Lebanon, once you are there you will be helping the locals by bringing in foreign currency which they need, accommodation is cheap and so is the food and I know from experience as I have some Lebanese friends that Lebanese food is awesome, much like Moroccan food, fantastic and full of flavour, worth the trip on it’s own, the hashish is just an added bonus.

  • Annahash

    The best weed in the world is OG Kush, google “labudsmoke” to see it