Cannabis VIP: Cheech & Chong

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Cannabis VIP: Cheech & Chong

Cheech, the Mexican American marijuana connoisseur and Chong, the constantly intoxicated hippie with his profusely growing beard were a duo infernale for the laughing muscles whose stoner movies were

Cheech: "We're living proof that heaven watches out for fools and small children."

Chong: "What makes us so dangerous is that we're harmless."

"Cheech", the "Mexican American" marijuana connoisseur and "Chong", the constantly intoxicated hippie with his profusely growing beard were a "duo infernale" for the laughing muscles whose stoner movies were a big success in the late 70s and early 80s (and not only among stoners, may we add) and are already legendary, but they have done much more than just those movies as stoner duo.

Richard "Cheech" Anthony Marin was born July 13, 1946 in Los Angeles, California, United States and grew up in Granada Hills, a suburb in the San Fernando Valley. He says he loved to sing when he was a little kid and after he had attended the California State University in Northridge to study English he left and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, but without a degree. He soon met a guy named Tommy Chong who had a topless club and worked for him for nine months. They performed music and improvised stand-up comedy in a posse called City Works. According to "Cheech" it was great and that one could have called it a hippie burlesque. Cheech and Chong teamed up, moved back to Los Angeles where the performed their mixed gigs of stand-up comedy and music at clubs until the music industry magnate Lou Adler discovered them at the Troubadour. Cheech says "The rest is history".

Let us have a look at what "Chong" did before the stoner duo started touring with their stand-up comedy and music...

Thomas B. Kin Chong was born May 24, 1938 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada as child of Lorna Jean, a waitress with Scots, French and Irish ancestry and Stanley Chong, a Chinese truck driver. Tommy's family moved to Calgary, Alberta while he was still young. According to Tommy it was a conservative neighborhood and he refers to it as the "Dog Patch". His father bought a five-hundred dollar house there and the family had to get by with only $200 per month. At the age of 16 he dropped out of Crescent Heights High School and played guitar to make some money. He once said that it was about this time when he discovered that music could get you laid, even if you were a long-haired, skinny outcast. 1960 he married his first wife Maxine Sneed, with whom he had two daughters, Robbi and Rae Dawn. In the early 60s, Tommy played guitar for a soul group called The Shades in Calgary. The band later moved to Vancouver, British Columbia and changed it's name to "Little Daddy & The Bachelors" to record a single - "Too Much Monkey Business" / "Junior's Jerk". In 1963 he and another band member opened a nightclub in Vancouver where he would later meet his counterpart Richard Marin. In 1970 he got divorced from his first wife. Tommy married his second wife Shelby Fiddis in 1975, with whom he had a daughter, Precious and two sons. He also adopted Marcus Chong

The Cheech & Chong Years

Their movies: With the release of the feature-length movie "Up in Smoke" in 1978 they became really known and the success of the movie encouraged them to make a sequel and in the following years they released Cheech & Chong's Next Movie (1980), Nice Dreams (1981), Things Are Tough All Over (1982), Still Smokin' (1983) and Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers (1984). They also had smaller roles in After Hours by Martin Scorcese and Graham Chapman's Yellowbeard.

Their music: Between 1972 and 1985 Cheech and Chong released nine albums of which four were nominated for the Grammy Award and six went gold: Cheech and Chong (1972, with their perhaps most famous line "Dave's not here"), Big Bambú (1972, the most sold comedy recording for many years), Los Cochinos (1973, awarded with a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording), Cheech and Chong Wedding Album (1974), Sleeping Beauty (1976), Up In Smoke (1979 soundtrack for the movie with the same title), Let’s Make a New Dope Deal (1980), Cheech and Chong’s Greatest Hits (1981), Get Out of My Room (1985, includes "Born in East L.A."). Immediately after release of their 1985 album, Cheech split from the duo to work on a solo career.

The time-out

In 1987 Cheech Marin played the main character in a movie based on their song "Born in East L.A." which won the award for Best Screenplay at the Havana Film Festival, the Glauber Rocha International Critics Award and Grand Coral Prize for Best Picture. He appeared in over 20 films, among them Desperado (1995, with Kevin Costner),From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, three characters) and Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003, with Johnny Depp).

Cheech made his debut on TV in 1992 on the CBS show The Golden Palace, before he starred alongside Don Johnson in the very successful CBS drama Nash Bridges for the years 1996-2001. 2004 and 2005 he was playing in CBS' Judging Amy. Also in 2005 he was the director of a Broadway production of Latinologues. In 2008 he had a guest role in Grey's Anatomy.

Chong has appeared in Far Out, Man! (1990) and National Lampoon's Senior Trip (1995). Chong has guest starred on ABC's The George Lopez Show and Dharma & Greg and also starred as "Leo" during the second, third, fourth, seventh, and eighth season of That 70's Show.

In 1997, Tommy Chong had a small role on the show Nash Bridges, alongside with Cheech Marin and Don Johnson and he also appeared in an episode which also featured Philip Michael Thomas, Don's partner in the popular TV series.

Both lend their voices to the famous animated TV series South Park in 2000, but their voices were recorded separately, so they didn't really work together again yet.

The reunion

In 2003 both announced they'd be willing to reunite and the duo had plans to make another movie, but on February 25 federal officials raided Chong's Glass, Tommy's company in California, in a crackdown on "drug-related paraphernalia" and on September 11 he was sentenced to nine months in jail. Along with the prison sentence, which he served October 8, 2003 and July 7, 2004, he was forced to forfeit $120.000 in assets and fined $20.000.

When Tommy was released, the duo planned to resume their work on the new movie, but on September 8, 2005 they announced that the reunion film had been canceled, but in 2007 Tommy mentioned in an interview, that the reunion is in the works.

September 5, 2008 they opened their reunion tour in Ottawa and later that month, on the 19th, they appeared on the The Bob & Tom Show. In March 2009 they recorded two shows for a DVD release of the tour at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, which was released on April 20 in 2010; Cheech and Chong's Hey, Watch This.

In April 2009 they were about to start their "Cheech and Chong Light Up Australia" Tour, but had to delay it, because the police of New South Wales Police targeted the event in a drug operation and searched around 50 visitors, catching six people in possession of small amounts of marijuana. In October of 2009 they were the hosts of the Smoke Out festival in San Bernardino, California.

On January 25, 2010, Cheech & Chong appeared on Lopez Tonight and performed their song Get It Legal, in reference to their current U.S. tour.

On March 19, 2011, during their last show of the Get It Legal tour at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa Cheech and Chong confirmed that they were working on a new movie and said it would be released in 2012. In September 2011, Cheech & Chong appeared in a video that went viral on YouTube, which seemed to be the trailer of an upcoming movie, but it turned out to be an ad for Fiber One 100-calorie snack brownies. At the same time they had an animated movie based on their comedy albums in the works and the makers of the movie released a game on Facebook named Cheech & Chong's Animated Game.

In June 2012, Tommy Chong was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but in May 2013 he announced that he was 99% cured by using a special diet and cannabis oil. (Read the article here)

In August 2012, Cheech & Chong appeared at the 13th annual Gathering of the Juggalos in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois.