Music Innovators

It is no secret that marijuana has played a role in numerous musicians’ lives. Some of the biggest, hardest working, and most influential artists out there are have also gone public for their admittance to smoking marijuana, or at least their support of marijuana legalization.

In fact, many musicians consumed marijuana specifically for the purposes of opening his or her mind up to allow creative juices to flow. Such was the case for two music legends: Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix. Both musicians are accomplished innovators in the music world, pushing limits and challenging conventions.

Bob Marley

His is the name that first pops into the heads of people thinking of famous musicians connected to marijuana. However, his message went much deeper than simply ˝love and peace and smoke weed.˝

Bob Marley’s ability to influence and inspire came from his deep passion for social justice. He was a revolutionary of sorts, conveying an important message for standing up for one’s rights, for getting along and loving one another. His message was relevant when his music was first coming out, and it remains relevant now (when he would have been 72 years old).

Marley was born in Jamaica in 1945, and he died in 1981 at the age of 37. He is known for being responsible for the introduction of reggae music to the rest of the world, as well as the fact that he was the first ˝Third World˝ musician to become internationally renowned.

Indeed, Marley grew up in poverty, but he and his best friend had a passion for music. Marley learned to play guitar and sing while he was still a child in Kingston, Jamaica (where his family moved to when Marley was 5 years old).

As Marley grew up and pursued his music career, his mother moved to the United States. Marley joined her after his first group, the Wailing Wailers, had success in Jamaica but wasn’t able to sustain itself financially. When he returned to Jamaica within the year, Marley encountered the Rastafarian movement. The Wailers got back together (with some changes in members), and albums were produced.

The songs that Marley and the Wailers produced were often interpreted as a commentary on various aspects of society or Marley’s own experience with Jamaican politics and turmoil. He was understood to be a supporter of the People’s National Party, one of the two conflicting parties in Jamaica at the time. This may explain why he was targeted in an assassination attempt in 1976, although the motivation of the attackers was never fully explained. He and his band were attacked by men with guns during a rehearsal in Kingston.

He and his band prevailed, however, and he continued to thrive until his death from cancer in 1981. His legacy lives on in the form of his belief in social justice as well as his own children. His family founded the Bob Marley Foundation, which helps organizations and individuals that are in developing nations.

Of course, Marley was also well known for his faith in the healing powers of marijuana. His creativity and open mindedness were only helped by his use of the herb. He publicly supported the use of marijuana and condemned governmental attempts to keep it out of people’s hands. He has been quoted saying “Them just say, ‘no, you mustn’t use it, you mustn’t use it because it will make you rebel.’ Against what?”

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was another music innovator who was world renowned for his guitar playing abilities and songwriting talent. He was born in 1942 in Seattle. He started his musical career by playing a one-string ukulele, and then graduated to an acoustic guitar at age 16 (gifted to him by his father). The year after that, he received an electric guitar. Since it was a right-handed guitar and Hendrix was left-handed, Hendrix simply flipped it around so he was able to play it.

Hendrix dropped out of high school before graduating so he would be able to follow his dreams of becoming a musician. A couple years later, however, he enlisted in the Army (just as his father had done). One year after enlisting he was honorably discharged due to an injury, so he was able to go back to music making.

At this point his stage name was Jimmy James, and he played for some huge names: Sam Cooke and B.B. King, among others. He also formed his own group. Finally in 1966 he found a manager, then went to London to form a new band called the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He was quickly discovered and admired by some of the biggest names in England.

His sound was experimental and pushed the boundaries of convention, and his guitar playing skills alone were admired by all of England, and quickly all of the United States after that. By the mid to late 1960s Hendrix had become an international superstar, songwriter, and producer.

Hendrix himself is known as a stoner icon of sorts, given the fact that there is footage out there of him smoking marijuana. The marijuana community has always been appreciative of Jimi Hendrix and his works as well. The popular marijuana strain, Purple Haze, is named after Hendrix’s own song of the same name (˝Purple Haze,˝ which is found on his album, Are You Experienced?).

At the time, Hendrix asserted that the purple haze referred to in the lyrics came from a dream he had, and there was no mention of a connection to marijuana by Hendrix or his band. That said, they were also aware that it would have had a negative impact on their professional careers to do so.

Hendrix died far too young, of course, at the age of 27 in the year 1970. Nonetheless, he left his mark on the world and is still considered one of the best electric guitar players in history. He is known for laying the foundations of a variety of genres of music that newly emerged after his life, including metal, hard rock, punk, funk, and hip-hop.

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