Mr. Nice history

We smuggled dope in the gear of bands like ELP, Floyd, Clapton

Howard Marks:
"We smuggled dope in the gear of bands like ELP, Floyd, Clapton"


A much favoured motto among businessmen is ‘Adapt to survive’.

It’s pretty popular in evolutionary circles as well. Howard Marks, the world’s most famous dope dealer, certainly applied the theory to his business in the 70s and 80s, when he was reckoned to be responsible for shifting around a quarter of the world’s cannabis shipments.

And he’s applied it to his evolutionary career since being released from prison in America in 1995, transforming himself from The World’s Most Evil Drug Baron (according to the tabloids) into an author, raconteur and spokesman for the cannabis class of ’64 – not to mention ’74, and ’84, ’94 and probably ’04 as well.

The Song That Reminds Me of My Smuggling Days

Mark’s love of music would become the catalyst to his creation of a world-wide distribution method.

The Intersection of Music and Rebellion:

The cultural revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s were characterized by a spirit of rebellion against established norms. As rock music soared in popularity, it became a powerful vehicle for social change and self-expression. Bands like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin provided the soundtrack for a generation yearning for freedom and alternative lifestyles. It is within this backdrop that Howard Marks found his stage.

Marks recognized the symbiotic relationship between music and rebellion, realizing that touring bands offered a unique cover for his illicit activities. The rebellious nature of rock ‘n’ roll made it an ideal platform to mask his audacious smuggling operations. By exploiting the trust and camaraderie among musicians, Marks ingeniously transformed guitar cases into conduits for his clandestine cargo.

The Ingenious Method:

Marks’ method involved ingeniously modifying guitar cases to accommodate the concealed packages of cannabis. The familiarity and ubiquity of guitar cases made them an inconspicuous choice for smuggling. With meticulous precision, he created hidden compartments within the cases, ensuring that they could hold a substantial amount of contraband without arousing suspicion.

Marks established connections with roadies and band members, relying on their loyalty and willingness to participate in his daring enterprise. As touring bands traversed borders, the hidden contraband accompanied them, evading detection from authorities who were often more focused on the spectacle of the rock stars themselves.

The Smuggler's Charisma:

Marks’ success as a smuggler extended beyond his ingenious methods. His charismatic personality and ability to blend seamlessly within the rock ‘n’ roll milieu solidified his position as a trusted figure within the industry. Known for his sharp wit, intelligence, and affable nature, he developed deep relationships with musicians, building a network that stretched across continents.

Through his interactions with rock stars, Marks became an unofficial emissary of the counterculture movement. He not only smuggled cannabis but also contributed to the dissemination of alternative ideologies, inspiring individuals to question societal norms and embrace the idea of personal freedom. In many ways, he embodied the spirit of the era, challenging authority and championing individual autonomy.

The Mr. Nice brand embraces the work that Howard Marks contributed to the world as well as to remember his contribution to the path that contributed to the legalization of cannabis and his involvement in the strains that live on today.


Super Furry Animals liked the drug dealer-turned-bestseller so much they put his mugshots on the cover of their debut LP. After his death, the band’s singer paid tribute to the life – and counterculture swagger – of Mr. Nice