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Last Update: June 9, 2009 9:32 PM


In Memoriam

John Kenneth Taylor

A.K.A. "Chicken George", A.K.A. The Plantem

Born in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1941 as John Kenneth Taylor, Chicken George was "a five foot warrior, a very tough man in a very little body."

George arrived in Nimbin 10 years ago after hearing about the annual Mardigrass Festival on the radio.He started out as a volunteer doing the cleaning at the Embassy and soon became the public face of the HEMP Campaign (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) by donning the green suit of The Plantem character, and becoming the second Plantem.The Plantem, ghost who tokes, plant that walks and hero to millions of Australian pot smokers, is based on the Lee Falk comic book character, the Phantom.


We had a very Nimbin funeral, featuring Ganja Faeries flitting through the crowd, and the coffin painted with a goanna on top by Gilbert, with a rainbow and the Plantem character by Elspeth and Helen. Local police closed the street for the village funeral procession; an action that was a stark contrast to the police attitude to MardiGrass in recent years.

The procession stopped outside the Hemp Embassy where one pall bearer said, "He did a lot to bring this community together. The Plantem will never die." Then the bearers crossed the road to pause before a large cannabis plant that had mysteriously appeared in the "Blister" the night before, and after that went on to the Oasis Cafe for another respectful pause. The coffin was returned to the hearse for the journey to the cemetery, and mourners then made their own way there.

At the cemetery George's friend Doctor Budd, aka Peter Hendrix, led the tributes and read highlights from George's autobiography called "Almost, Nearly, Never."

Growing up among scenes of incredible domestic violence, the young John Taylor had shot his step-father in the arm after he saw his mother with two black eyes and two broken arms. George was totally opposed to violence against women. He spent much of his youth in boys' homes and detention centres and graduated to jail where he was known as "The Kid." Always the gentleman, an inmate once observed: "If you ever shot someone, you'd be the first to call the ambulance." Apart from his time in and out of detention, Chicken George was married three times and fathered fifteen children.He also had a love of travelling and spent many years on the road working as a carnie with various sideshows. He had a love of horses, racing and training them in WA and Victoria, his son a jockey, Australian Rules football and was the 1990 Coffs Harbour Racing Pigeon Champion. He came to Nimbin after that, often said it was his salvation, and credited his time there with turning his life around. Working at the HEMP Embassy he connected with Cassie,who has been his other half ever since. Many have met George and Cassie as they served behind the Hemp Embassy counter, with George often donning the Plantem outfit and geeing up the customers and passers-by.

Above: Bob Hopkins, Michael Balderstone, and Chicken George
at the Sydney 2000 Hemp Olympix

His lived his live by the motto: "Never give up, never give in and you might just be OK." He will be sorely missed.

Funeral Photos

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