Cheech and Chong: 5 surprising facts
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong may be most famous for their weed-a-riffic movies, but there's a lot about the stoner duo that you probably don't know. To help celebrate their arrival at the State Theater next week, we're letting you in on a few lesser-known Cheech and Chong tidbits.
You Called Your Band What, Tommy Chong?
Before he paired up with Cheech, Tommy Chong was a musician, playing guitar in the the early 1960s in a Calgary-based soul band called the Shades. The band renamed itself Little Daddy and the Bachelors before alienating its fan-base entirely by inexplicably switching to Four Niggers and a Chink (Chong's father is Chinese-Canadian).
Another name switch, to 4 N's and a C, followed before Chong and bandmate Bobby Taylor switched up to Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers.Their "Does Your Mama know about Me" was a top 30 hit single in the 1960s, and they were briefly signed to Berry Gordy's Motown label.
Jimmy Hendrix played with the Vancouvers for about a year, but was fired because his solos were too loud and long.
The Beatles Connection
Cheech and Chong rose to fame in the early '70s with a series of hit comedy LPs, including 1973's Los Cochinos, which spawned a Top 20 hit with the R&B-meets-NBA goof "Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces". And in an era where all-star supergroups were running rampant across the face of the earth, this one-off turned out to be one of the most star-studded, with George Harrison himself playing lead guitar and a couple notable Beatles associates -- bassist Klaus Voorman (artist for the Revolver sleeve) and organist Billy Preston ("Get Back") -- sitting in as well. That means there's only one degree of separation between the most popular rock band of all time and the dudes who drove a van made of weed in their feature film debut.