The "Hollywood" sign was famously defaced in 1976 after the decriminalization of marijuana in California
On January 1, 1976, the iconic "HOLLYWOOD" sign was altered to read "Hollyweed" by the late Danny Finegood of Los Angeles and a few of his college friends. The stunt -- celebrating the decriminalization of marijuana in California -- got worldwide publicity at the time.
To accomplish the stunt, Finegood and his buds used ropes and sheets, and reportedly spent only around 50 bucks for materials. The prank was a class project while he was an art major at Cal State Northridge. (Yes, he got an "A" for the project.)
Finegood considered himself an environmental artist, not a vandal. In a letter to the L.A. Times in 1983, he said of the "Hollyweed" sign: "An artist's role throughout history has been to create representations of the culture he exists in. By hanging four relatively small pieces of fabric on the landmark, we were able to change people's perception of the Hollywood sign."
Writer David Batterson was so knocked out by the event that he wrote lyrics to a song and his friend, former radio DJ and musician Mark Giles, a resident of Santa Barbara, wrote the music. They called the song, you guessed it, "Hollyweed, USA."
David Batterson, now 69, wrote the lyrics to "Hollyweed USA" back in 1976.
"I was living in Hollywood at the time of the prank," Batterson said, "and I thought it was an awesome achievement. So I penned a song about it (lyrics only) in January 1976, and sent the lyrics to Giles."
Giles, however, busy with his job, put the song aside. He rediscovered the lyric sheet in a box in 2006, composed music for it, and recorded a demo.
"When he sent it to me, I was amazed at what he had done," Batterson said. "With the attitude toward marijuana usage so changed, and the move toward legalization in California (despite the constant drug busts by local, state and federal law enforcement), the song could finally catch on."
Batterson said he'd like to see a movie also made from the infamous artistic stunt. "It could capture the vibe of that era," he said. "I envision it as a successful movie like other films made from songs, like 'Alice's Restaurant,' 'Ode To Billy Joe,' and 'Harper Valley PTA.' "
Music by Mark Giles / Words by David Batterson
(Registered with ASCAP)
There's a great big sign in the Hollywood
That the tourists and the natives all read
This is a story about that big ol' sign, and
The day Hollywood became Holly-WEED
Well, they passed a law back in seventy-five
Don't you worry if you smoke a little grass
Everybody said it was a wonderful law
Smokin' pot was put in traffic-fine class
Now it's finally safe to take a little toke
Let me tell you 'bout a practical joke
Four young guys one day got stoned
And they thought they'd have a little bit of
They said they couldn't think of any better
To see the law take effect January One
On December thirty-first well they made their