It’s one of the most iconic names in cannabis strains and rock songs: Purple Haze.
While many people might have the two closely intertwined in origin—i.e., the idea that Jimi Hendrix named his famous hit for the strain—the creation of this funky purple flower in the twilight of the free love era has nothing to do with Hendrix’s killer guitar skills.
Here’s what we know.
Delving into the history of Purple Haze is like stepping back into the hazy, pot-growing days of Northern California in the late 1960s and early ’70s, where cannabis-growing myths loom large.
One of the best accounts of the origins of Purple Haze—and haze in general—comes from Humboldt Seed Organization in Northern California. And even they admit this is all hearsay, so take it for what it is.
“Of all the things that have raised this strain to the status of a legend, it is the mystery surrounding its creation that is to be blamed,” according to the site. “The most popular theory is that it was the Haze Brothers and Sam ‘The Skunkman,’ the originator of the Skunk, who created it. Legend has it that back in the ’70s, in the Californian region of Santa Cruz, the cradle of cannabis culture in a country determined to end cannabis use, these curious guys decided to cross some cannabis lines from all over the world.”
According to this legend, the Haze brothers combined sativas from Mexico, Colombia, and, some claim, India. They then took the best female plants and crossed it with a landrace male from Thailand to create original haze. Skunkman then took that haze and tried to develop more stable crops from it, Purple Haze being one of the first.
While many question if the Haze Brothers even existed, the original haze has spawned the many variations of hazes we have today. One thing runs true through all the tales about Purple Haze back in the day: cannabis enthusiasts were happy with the results.
Though Hendrix enjoyed smoking, and maybe even sampled some haze, he did not name his song for the strain. (It’s not about acid, either.)
According to this NPR account, “[Hendrix] explained later that the idea for the words to ‘Purple Haze’ came to him in a dream after he had read a science fiction novel.”
A sci-fi fan, Hendrix was reading Night of Light, a 1966 novel by Philip Jose Farmer, according to his biographer Charles Cross in Rolling Stone.
I dream a lot and I put my dreams down as songs.Jimi Hendrix
“I dream a lot and I put my dreams down as songs,” he said in a January 1967 interview, as quoted by Rolling Stone. “I wrote one called ‘First Look Around the Corner’ and another called ‘The Purple Haze,’ which was about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea.”
In March 1967, “Purple Haze” was released as a single in England, where Hendrix had gone to develop his music. After charting over there, Hendrix came back to America and performed at the Monterey Pop Festival that same year in June. He set his guitar on fire and that was it—he was a star in America.
“Purple Haze” continues to be lauded as one of the greatest guitar songs in history by music critics and fans alike.
Despite its iconic status and easy name recognition, it’s hard to find Purple Haze these days. Many shops don’t stock it, and it’s hard to pin down a grower who’s currently growing it.
“We haven’t seen Purple Haze since 2015,” said Jason McKee, general manager at Ganja Goddess in Seattle. “I’m sure it’s out here, but new strains are being bred all the time, and many brands try to capitalize on trends.”
The seed-selling site I Love Growing Marijuana wrote via email that despite its fall in popularity, “Purple Haze feminized seeds are very easy to cultivate. So, this is the perfect strain for first-time growers.”
Sativa-dominant Purple Haze is known for its “spirited, uplifting mood” effects. So, if it’s fairly easy to grow and has uplifting effects, who knows? Maybe this classic will get a reboot.