Howard Marks and I

Graham, Howard, and Brian – November 2012

In London tonight there is a special tribute show to Howard ‘Mr Nice’ Marks. The show follows the recent sad news regarding his health and is seen as being a way of celebrating his life. It is a way for his friends and family to get together for one last public hooray.

In the past I have written tribute articles about fallen friends and activists like Aodhrua Fitzgerald and John McCarthy. However I think rather than wait for the inevitable sad day ahead to pay tribute to Howard, today is as fitting a day as any.

My friend Richie is also writing a piece, but more on that later.

Many of you have perhaps read the books, seen the movie, or even seen Howard live, but hopefully what Richie and I write today will offer a little more insight into the man known as Mr.Nice.

It was a few years ago when I was involved with UCC Drug Awareness and Reform Society (Now UCC SSDP) when I first got the chance to meet Howard Marks.

He has performed a few times at the Cork venue The Pavilion, where I first seen him live and even asked a question during the Q&A. He had also appeared at UCC previously thanks to another society in the college.

It was during one of his visits to perform in The Pavilion that I first met Howard.

Graham de Barra (who established SSDP Ireland and UCC DAR) and I were given the chance to interview him in November of 2012.

We were bringing Howard to UCC for an event the following year and were meeting to record promotion for it. My friend Richie, who’s guest blogging today, was also present for the meeting.

We recorded an interview with Howard which you can view here 

Howard’s Irish agent/manager Johnny, now a friend to many of us, helped arrange the interview. That is how on November 21st 2012 I found myself along with Graham interviewing Howard in his hotel room.

Like all our interactions since I found Howard to be warm and charming. He is open to questions, happy to sign things, happy to record promotions/interviews ,and tended to live up to the Mr.Nice moniker. He is softly spoken and has a certain wit about him.

I was delighted to have met him and was looking forward to bringing him to UCC the following year. We knew his presence would draw a crowdand be a big help in promoting UCC DAR and its activities. Plus on a personal level I had enjoyed his company immensely.

The next time I met with Howard was when he returned in February 2013 for the event in UCC. You can see the Q and A here and you can see the aforementioned Aodhrua Fitzgerald opening for Howard here

Again our interactions involved chilling in his room, and also having a pint in the hotel, but we also brought Howard to one of the local shops Utopianation. Which sadly is now closed but open in a new location under the name GrowNation

Ella, Howard and Paul – February 2013

For many years Utiopianation was a venue where us Cork activists met, along with going in for the odd coffee to chat to Paul and Ella, the proprietors.

Howard’s appearance at UCC was great and drew a crowd as expected, and I may or may not have toked with him on UCC grounds, nudge nudge, wink wink.

He was pretty baked by the time he got on stage, that’s all I can say. He would be happy to admit that, like he did on the Late Late during one appearance.

During our interactions which weren’t interviews I rarely discussed cannabis with Howard. In my mind he must be somewhat sick of the topic. So instead I have enjoyed conversations with him on physics, his travel writing for The Guardian, the IRA and much more.

I once got him to sign my Volcano Vaporiser, and if I recall he had a small hit off it. But from my experience he is more of a joints guy, with a preference for hash over herbal cannabis.

This signed vaporiser, which also has Ming’s signature, is among my prized possessions.

The signatures remind me of two great moments in my life where I got to spend time in the company of two inspirational and colorful characters.

Signed Vaporiser
Signed Vaporiser

The news about his health was devastating, but it is great to see he is taking it in his stride. It is unlikely Howard will be in Ireland again. But who knows, perhaps with his permission I will travel to Wales to meet him. Watch this space.

There is also an article by my friend Richie who opened for Howard on one of his tours, and who hung out with him at the last cannabis cup in November

I was going to include it in this post, but I believe it deserves its own post. It too I hope like my post offers an insight into Howard Marks. All I can say is that from my experiences he is an absolute gent and inspiration.

I know many from Ireland have much love and respect for Howard, so on this day when people are paying tribute to him, I would like to say thanks for everything Howard.

Both for supplying consumers here in your early years, and for your kindness towards the island since. You have made many friends here and touched many lives.

Howard speaking at UCC – February 2013



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