Magazine Editor Smokes Out True Origins of Hemp Slang ‘420’

Everyone knows The Dude from The Big Lebowski. Now, thanks to a post by 420 magazine editor Rob Griffin, the reputation of “The Bebe” seems set to ascend to similar pop culture heights.

Exactly 42.0 years ago, The Bebe–a.k.a. Brad Bann–coined the term “420” for marijuana while attending high school in San Rafael, Calif. The slang was subsequently appropriated by and later credited to another school group, The Waldos. But after due journalistic diligence, Griffin is delighted to be able to finally set the record straight. From an email by Bebes group member Bone Boy:

Quite simply, the birth of 420 occurred at precisely 4:20 in the afternoon to begin a bedroom bong session at the house of Du and Puff on a Saturday in October of 1970. The Bebe along with the brothers began preparing to “bong out,” when Bebe glanced at the clock on the nightstand and said, “It’s 4:20, time for bong loads.”

After getting high, they proceeded to do some audio recording with Bebe, as we did frequently, using his assortment of voices, including his impression of Abraham Lincoln, and said as tape was rolling: “4 score and 20 years ago…” As it turned out, 420 became an instant code in our neighborhood. We gravitated to any and all Bebe terminology he conjured up. 420 seemed to just roll off the tongue better than any other number, 4:19, 2:37, 3:58 etc., and gosh knows we needed a code to use in front of non-stoners, especially for the parental establishment.

Among those Griffin spoke to is Dave Dixon, a.k.a. Wild Du. The 58-year-old still plays in The 420 Band with Bann and says the Waldos have previously privately admitted that The Bebes originated the term. Tons more fascinating background on where the whole gang is now in the Griffin post. Read it here.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.
Publish date: October 15, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT