obituaries

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker dead at 65

Posted on April 13th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Gilbert BakerGay pioneer and artist Gilbert Baker, famous as creator of the iconic Rainbow Flag, died in his sleep at age 65 on March 31 at his home in Manhattan. Baker's first flag was an eight-colored banner that flew above the 1978 Pride festivities in San Francisco—then the Gay Freedom Day Parade. Baker, well known for making banners for gay and anti-war street protest marches, created the flag at the behest of his friend Harvey Milk—the gay community leader later elected a San Francisco supervisor, and assassinated that November. The flag has since become a global symbol of the LGBT community—raised at pride festivals worldwide, and forever flying over the corner of Castro and Market streets.

Marijuana minstrel David Peel passes on in New York City

Posted on April 8th, 2017 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

David PeelNew York's most famous street musician, David Peel, passed away April 6 at the age of 73. Peel suffered a massive heart attack and went into cardiac arrest on March 31. He was being treated in the ICU unit at the VA Hospital in Manhattan. Friends gathered to pay respects to the singer, who lit up the Lower East Side with his humorous protest tunes since the late '60s.

Merle Haggard, redneck icon who embraced cannabis, passes on

Posted on April 6th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

Merle HaggardCountry music legend Merle Haggard died at his ranch near Northern California's Lake Shasta on April 6, his 79th birthday. Haggard had the hard-living authenticity that helped make him an icon for the working folks of rural America. Of Okie stock, he grew up in Bakersfield and came up as a musician in the Central Valley town's local honkytonk scene—before actually turning 21 in San Quentin State Prison after a burglary conviction in 1957, as immortalized in his famous hit "Mama Tried." Unlike what the lyric said, however, he wasn't "doing life without parole." He was paroled in 1960, returned to his music career, acheived success, and was granted a pardon in 1972 by California's then-governor (and fellow conservative icon) Ronald Reagan.

Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane's lead pilot, flies on...

Posted on January 29th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Paul KantnerPaul Kantner, co-founder of the Jefferson Airplane and a pioneer of the San Francisco music scene in the 1960s, died Jan. 28 at the age of 74. He had suffered a heart attack earlier in the week, according to his longtime publicist and friend, Cynthia Bowman. As singer, rhythm guitarist and song-writer as well as political visionary, Kantner guided the band from its folk-rock origins through its period as a pre-eminent symbol of the counterculture and youth rebellion, climaxing with the Monterey Pop festival that kicked off the 1967 "Summer of Love," its classic early-morning performance at the utopian-spirited Woodstock festival in August 1969—and that December's disastrous and violence-plagued Altamont Speedway free concert. The band had a rebirth in the 1970s, with a new line-up and more radio-friendly sound, as the Jefferson Starship, including fellow Airplane hold-overs Marty Balin and Grace Slick, Kantner's flamboyant and contentious lover. He continued to perform with various outfits in later years, including a re-formed version of the Starship and a briefly reunited Airplane in 1989. Kantner and his Airplane bandmates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. He continued to be a vocal advocate for political causes, from cannabis legalization to support for the Nicaraguan revolution during the 1980s. 

High Times chairman Michael Kennedy dies

Posted on January 25th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Michael KennedyAttorney Michael Kennedy, the longtime guiding force behind High Times magazine, died of complications from an illness in New York Jan. 25 at the age of 78. He was the lawyer for High Times founder Tom Forçade, the notorious marijuana smuggler and political radical who started the magazine in 1974. "Tom and I became friends," Kennedy wrote in 2015. "We had five years of revolutionary pretense and fucking with the begrudgers. There were more grand juries, betrayals and sordid legal encounters. Tom brought street theater to everything he did. High Times was all theater... Tom had publishing experience, muckraking; he preferred shit-disturbing." After Forçade's death in 1978, High Times' parent company, Trans High Corp., operated as a trust until 2000 when the company was broken up into shares. Kennedy and his wife Eleanora and Forçade's family retained control of the company with Kennedy being named chairman of the board. He was also Trans High's legal counsel. During his extensive legal career, he defended the likes of acid guru Timothy Leary and Black Panther Huey Newton.

Remembering Judith Malina, matriarch of Living Theatre

Posted on April 16th, 2015 by Baba Israel and tagged , , , , , , .

Judith MalinaJudith Malina, co-founder of the legendary Living Theatre, a ground-breaking and activist-oriented troupe that helped pioneer the countercultural explosion of the 1960s and still challenges audiences today, died April 10 at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, NJ. She was 88 and still actively involved in the Living Theatre. This remembrance is offered by Baba Israel, a New York-based hip-hop artist and cultural worker whose parents were core members of the Living Theatre.Global Ganja Report

Judge Gustin Reichbach, medical cannabis advocate, dead at 65

Posted on July 18th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

ReichbachBrooklyn judge Gustin Reichbach, who won notoriety two months ago when he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times expressing his support for medical marijuana, died July 14 after a nearly three-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. In his May 16 op-ed, he wrote: "My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery... Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep." 

Steve Ben Israel, NYC counter-culture legend, dead at 74

Posted on June 5th, 2012 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

Steve Ben Israel, legendary thespian, veteran of the ground-breaking Living Theatre troupe, and pioneer of what he called "performance life" (as opposed to performance art), died June 4 of lung cancer at his home in New York's Greenwich Village. He was 74.

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