Five reasons why Howard Marks was a counter-culture hero
Howard Mark feature

Former drug smuggler turned author and professional figure Howard Marks has passed away at the age of 70, one year after he announced that he had been diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer.

Born in Kenfig Hill, Wales, Marks once ran a smuggling empire that totaled profits well in excess of the multi-million mark, but it wasn’t just the criminal world that he made an impact on in his time.

Here’s everything that we want to thank Howard Marks for.

Mr Nice

Mr Nice image


With its hyperbolic stories and outlandish recalls, Mr Nice made Howard Marks into an international icon of rebellion, and a recognised author/writer.

The book chronicles his rise as a marijuana kingpin throughout the late 20th century, and includes first hand accounts of meetings with criminal organisations from the Middle East, and the Mafia.

It’s a lot wilder than you’d expect from a small-town Welsh kid, put it that way.

Acting contribution

Marks’ cultural influence after his release from prison is proved in no small part by his acting credits. He made appearances in the 2010 gangster movie Killer Bitch, as well as with a memorable cameo in Human Traffic. Mr. Nice was also turned into a feature film back in 2010, starring Welsh actor Rhys Ifans in the role of Marks.

He would become a symbol of individualism, whose moniker was utilised by directors to display anarchic, post modern worlds.

Azucar bar

Leeds Skyline

As well as his numerous acting exploits, Marks also owned the Azucar bar in the centre of Leeds, where he could regularly be seen propping up the bar.

If you wanted to brush shoulders with one of the most interesting people around, while enjoying a gigantic plate of Tapas, this was the place to be on a Saturday night.

His sense of humour

Howard Marks never mind the buzzcocks

As well as being a full fledged actor and author, Marks also showcased his sense of humour with appearances on panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He also ran for election to the UK parliament, on the single issue of cannabis legalisation.

Granted, it was a long shot, but he actually managed to contest seats in Norwich and Southhampton, so not a bad effort from  reformed smuggler, really.

A life of peace and tranquillity

Howard Marks talk

Most people hear “drug smuggler” and automatically think Scarface, but Mark was about as far away from Tony Montana as you or me.

In fact, after his release from prison, the Welsh-born Cannabis icon was a self-confessed converted Buddhist, and proceeded to live a life of total spiritual harmony, far away form the stereotypical ruckus that usually comes with running a criminal empire.

Many fans have taken to Twitter to express their grief:

Main image: Getty


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