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There's no denying that there is a relationship between weed and music, and we're not just talking about the pop stars who love weed. Cannabis is very popular among many walks of life, from rappers to athletes to even the average Joe like you and me. At least as far back as the Beatles (though it certainly goes back as far as Louie Armstrong and other early jazz greats), cannabis has had some association with creativity. While it is not for everyone, it would seem that a disproportionate number of pop stars share an enjoyment of cannabis. Publications like High Times have been some of the few outlets where famous people were willing to admit their love of marijuana. As the push to legalize marijuana marches on, medical marijuana and recreational weed are becoming more acceptable in mainstream culture. While weed is most closely associated with a few specific musical acts—Willie Nelson, Bob Marley, and Jimi Hendrix just to name a few—there are many more mainstream pop stars who love weed and smoke weed regularly.
I don't think this one will really surprise anyone. With the spread of weed culture via social media, many Millennials, being largely more free spirited than most people of previous generations, have come to see benefits in smoking cannabis. There are few freer spirits in the upper echelon of modern pop stars who love weed than Miley Cyrus. Cyrus has been known for controversy and shock value in the latter portion of her music career. Having gone through a stage of rebellion and just plain weirdness following the shedding of her bubblegum pop role of Hannah Montana, reports of Cyrus using salvia would be enough to essentially infer that she blazes. If that was not proof enough, in 2013 at the MTV European Music Awards in Amsterdam (of course), Cyrus lit up some ganja right on stage.
If today's edgy pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are known for their outlandish costumes, controversial behaviors, and on stage antics, Madonna was certainly an influencing factor in their styles. The early years for Madonna, the 1980s and 90s, were when the singer and cultural figure was known for pushing the envelope with her outlandish persona and brand. Madonna would perhaps best be known for her attempts at shock value and general edginess. With everything she has done in her career, you would expect Madonna to be the archetypal stoner; and indeed, you would be quite right. The woman who once spoke with a phony British accent and sang like a virgin loves a good joint or two. Madonna even attributed an expletive laden verbal altercation on Letterman in 1994 came after she smoked a joint.
Did you really have any doubt about it? Known for her absurdist and provocative stage performances and her unique and influential musical style, it will surprise no one that Lady Gaga is a fan of the sticky icky. Gaga is able to use cannabis to help unlock her creative side, or at least subdue the inhibitions that often keep creative people from releasing their most groundbreaking ideas. With such unique and uninhibited art, one can easily see the influence of pot in Lady Gaga. Gaga claims that she enjoys smoking weed while she is writing songs, likely why she is able to generate such edgy and unencumbered creativity, as well as such a rich sub-culture.
It is impossible to note the above stars without mentioning the "rocket man" himself, Sir Elton John. The original outlandish pop star, Elton John laid the ground for unique personalities like Lady Gaga. If Madonna and Gaga pushed the envelope, then Elton John signed it and sent it along. From his flamboyant on stage wardrobe to his whimsically lighthearted tunes like "Crocodile Rock" to the dramatic ones like "Rocket Man" and "Tiny Dancer," it is clear that John was fond of a little space cabbage. Though he did not write the lyrics of his songs, his ethereal and trippy melodies and rhythms scream of cannabis. Elton John even admitted in an interview that he liked weed so much that he had to quit, as it caused him to lose his grip and even caused vocal problems that would come to persist.
The artist who brought us the hit record Room for Squares is certainly no square himself. A powerful musical force since the release of his aforementioned debut album in 2001, Mayer has been an avid blazer for years. He even wrote a song titled "Who Says I Can't Get Stoned!" In 2010, he told Rolling Stone interviewers that he planned on going home to smoke pot and play some video games following the interview. As an avid fan of the stank, Mayer found himself on tour with Dead and Company (A band comprising most of the original living Grateful Dead members). While on tour in Colorado with the group, Mayer posted a shot of him posing before a number of pot plants at a dispensary to Instagram.
While weed has long been popular amongst the young and creative in society, its long running illegality forced its users to remain quiet about their habits for many years. In today's more open dialogue around Mary Jane, many more people are willing to be public about their pot use, especially those who are famous. While many people are content to enjoy their cannabis without making a big public statement about it, others prefer to put it out in a public forum. Though she is not quite on the Mount Rushmore of modern stoners, Rihanna enjoys smoking a bowl now and again, and is very vocal about it. In fact, so brazen is her embrace of cannabis that she will post photos of her getting high on her Instagram account.
When most people think of weed influencing music, they turn to the 1960s, early 1970s, and the classic rock that defined that era. Though American contemporaries like Bob Dylan had been stoners for a while, England had little supply of the sacred herb. In August 1964, the Beatles were smoked up for the first time by Bob Dylan himself. There are a lot of songs by The Beatles and McCartney alone that are either directly or indirectly referencing weed. McCartney admitted in a 1997 biography that the song "Got to Get You into My Life" was about cannabis. After Dylan introduced it to him, McCartney greatly enjoyed cannabis (enough to write a song or two about it). From this period on, the Beatles' use of cannabis and other drugs would come to transform their music and influence generations to come.
Though those only casually aware of Dylan may not be aware, fans will note the mountain of evidence for Bob Dylan's enjoyment of weed. The tag line to the 1966 song "Rainy Day Women" is "everybody must get stoned." As previously mentioned, Dylan was known to have introduced it to the Beatles. If you have any doubts, just listen to any of Dylan's albums from 1965 to 1967 cover to cover and take in Dylan’s euphoric and colorful prose set through layers of guitars, blaring organ, and, of course, his signature harmonica. Though one lyrical interpretation from Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" might be about protesting the Vietnam War, it could easily be argued that this hit was just as much about peace and freedom, truly embracing themes of weed culture. Unlike many others, he would always deny any use of weed to the press, despite the fact that Dylan seemed quite visibly and audibly stoned in all of his interviews at the time, giving impish and dismissive retorts to any question he did not approve of. In fact, Dylan very rarely gives interviews any more.
Who else do you think of when you picture a drug-taking rock star? The Rolling Stones side man is perhaps known better for his prolific drug use than his iconic music. Of all the pop stars who love weed, Keith Richards is the most well established in his passion. Over several decades, Richards made a reputation doing every drug around. Like a cockroach, or Ozzy Osbourne, Richards is lauded for his ability to endure a great deal of toxicity and adversity without dying or even slowing down. Unlike many of his peers in hardcore partying like Keith Moon, John Bonham, and many others, Richards has managed to remain alive. Though Richards has hung up his habit for the harder drugs that he struggled with, he still manages to have a little fun. Richards has been a lifelong pot smoker, admitting recently that he still smokes weed everyday.
While the classic famous stoners of old can easily be identified with just music, comedy, or another entertainment medium, many of today's jet setting pop stars have a few plates spinning at once. There are few people who personify the ill-defined classification of pop star better than Justin Timberlake. From singing with N*SYNC and solo, to hosting Saturday Night Live, and acting roles with Disney, in The Social Network, and Inside Llewyn Davis, few celebrities have led as diverse a career. With his goofy and hilarious performances on Saturday Night Live, it is not surprising that old JT likes to get faded. In a 2011 Playboy interview, Timberlake explained that he enjoyed smoking weed because it allows him to "stop thinking so much." Additionally, Timberlake stated his belief that "some people are just better high." You could certainly imagine that phrase being uttered by other pop stars who love weed as a sentiment shared between like-minds, no?