420 Magazine sets the record straight clarifying the origins of April 20th, a day unofficially marked as Cannabis day.
Who really invented 420? This has been a subject of debate for many years, and now a new origin story is being advanced by Rob Griffin of 420 Magazine.
“Ever since I read an article about a group of guys named the Waldos claiming to be the originators of 420, I had doubts from the start,” he writes. “This never made any sense to me and I knew something wasn’t right.”
In 1998, a person calling himself Steve Waldo (nee Steve Capper) contacted 420 Tours claiming he and four friends had coined the term when they attended San Rafael High School in the early-’70s. 420 Tours passed the info on to then High Times editor-in-chief Steven Hager, who flew out to California to meet the Waldos. Their story was that they used to meet after school at 4:20 pm at the Louis Pasteur statue on campus. Then they’d drive over to Point Reyes on the Pacific Coast and search for pot plants. They had letters, posters and other memorabilia to prove their claim. Hager decided it was true and anointed the Waldos the founders of 420.
While I still worked at High Times I received letters contending that the Waldos story was incorrect, but no one sufficiently proved it… until now.
According to Griffin, another nicknamed character, “The Bebe” (nee Brad Bann), is the real man behind 420 – not Steve Waldo or any other Waldo. Bann tells Griffin:
“During the summer of 1970 at San Rafael High School, there were two groups of people involved in bringing forth the term 420, the Bebes and the Waldos. The Bebes beat the Waldos to the punch on nearly every phrase. The Waldos put a story on the Web in 1998, but not the real story. They never mentioned the Bebes because they would have some explaining to do.”
Another one of “The Bebes,” Bone Boy, sent Griffin a lengthy communique laying out what he believes is the true story of 420:
“The real story is rather short, unimpressive and unimaginative,” he explains. “It is spontaneous though, just like the character who first coined the term, completely by accident, like most things from his youth. Brad Bann a.k.a. The Bebe (pronounced Beeb – a nickname), about seventeen at the time, is the Father of 420 and many other terms that caught on around the campus of San Rafael High School (SRHS) in the Fall of 1970…
“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: ‘Four 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.
“420 is an accidental anomaly. There is no deep meaning. A guy looked at a clock as he was about to ‘smoke out’ with some buddies, blurted out the time, and it became local stoner lore. If Bebe would have said, ‘It’s twenty minutes after four,’ the term probably would have never gotten legs to get out of the bedroom that day. 420 just sounded ‘stoner poetic.’