STORIES

The 420 Originators Meet Dead & Company

By David Jenison on July 5, 2017

The Waldos, pictured below with Bob Weir (Grateful Dead, Dead & Company), likely introduced one of the most important terms in the cannabis lexicon. Their contribution, while first acknowledged in 1998, only became widely known in the last five years, but it's quite a story. 

As teens attending San Rafael High School in 1971, the five friends heard a legend about an abandoned cannabis crop in Point Reyes Peninsula, and they committed to visit the 71,000-acre seaside park on a regular basis until they found it. Despite having a "treasure map," the Waldos never found the secret stash. 

The teens called themselves the Waldos after a wall where they always hung out, and they called the search 420 after the time (4:20 p.m.) they always met up. From this humble origin, 420 became a global code word for cannabis, and the Grateful Dead played an indirect role in promoting it. 

In the late 1960s, the Grateful Dead moved to Marin County and set up Grateful Dead Productions in San Rafael. Waldo Mark’s father was a hippie real estate broker in Marin County who helped band members find homes. Waldo Dave worked the Dead shows, and his older brother managed a side band called Too Loose to Truck with Dead bassist Phil Lesh. The Waldos also attended shows and passed out concert flyers that included cannabis images and the number 420. Their connection to the Dead universe, and incorporating 420 into the local lexicon, helped the term spread. In 1990, High Times learned about 420, and editorials about the term helped take it national. The publication eventually broke the story on the Waldos-420 connection in 1998. 

"Leave it to a bunch of Marin DeadHeads to reinvent Tea Time," Weir told PRØHBTD shortly after the concert. "My hat's off to 'em. Seems like our fans were always inventing ways to stay ahead of authority and so much of what went down still exists today."

Weir, who cofounded the Grateful Dead, started Dead & Company in 2015 with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti and his former Grateful Dead bandmates Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. Dead & Company performed at the Shoreline Amphitheatre earlier this month as part of their summer tour, and the band welcomed the Waldos, who took this photo with Weir backstage. The 20-date tour concludes July 1 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  

 

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