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.