Described by the Daily Mail (UK Tabloid) as 'the most sophisticated drugs baron of all time', Howard Marks has worked with the British Secret Service and has been connected with the Mafia, the IRA, MI6 and the CIA.
Born in 1945 in Kenfig Hill, a small Welsh coal-mining village near Bridgend, Howard Marks attended Oxford University where he earned a degree in nuclear physics and post graduate qualifications in philosophy.
Busted in 1988 by the American Drug Enforcement Agency and sentenced to twenty-five years at America's toughest federal penitentiary; Terre Haute, Indiana. He was released on parole in 1995 after serving seven years.
In 1996 he released his autobiography, Mr. Nice, which remains an international best seller in several languages and was the best selling non-fiction book of 1997. On the subject of his book, he says: "Through a plethora of media interviews and several public book readings, it became clear that the predominant reason why so many adolescents and university students read and enjoyed Mr Nice was their frustration with the law prohibiting cannabis consumption and trade. Until then, I had no idea of the extraordinary extent of cannabis use by young people today."
During 1997, he performed his first live shows, which discussed his life as a marijuana smuggler and his views on drug use and legalisation. The shows received excellent reviews throughout the national press, and his now legendary one-man comedy show, An Audience with Mr Nice, continues to sell-out at venues throughout Britain and Europe covering an ever-widening range of topics.
Howard wrote a monthly column for Loaded for five years and has written features for The Times, Observer, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Time Out, GQ, and the Guardian. He has also penned Senor Nice, the sequel to his autobiography, collected together writings on intoxication for the anthology Dope Stories, co-wrote 101 Uses of a Dead Roach and is currently writing the first of a series of crime fiction novels called Sympathy for the Devil, which is due to be published in 2011.
Howard's musical career, which was kick-started in 1996 by the Super Furry Animals' track 'Hanging With Howard Marks', has flourished. He is a regular on the DJ circuit currently favouring the Dub Step sound but describing his own style as 'stoned eclectic'. He launched a label 'Bothered' in the late 90s that featured material from Shaun Ryder, Stereophonics and a plethora of new bands. He still has several boxes of unsold CDs in his garage. He has played at Manumission, remixed tracks for Super Furry Animals, performed a spoken word track with Freebass, collaborated with Mick Jones and Tony James' latest project Carbon/Silicon and compiled 'Mr Nice - A Musical Trip With Howard Marks ' an album of his favourite music. He has also taken part in spoken word tours with erstwhile New Order bassist Peter Hook and Kav Sandhu from the Happy Mondays.
His TV and Film career includes a cameo in Human Traffic, narrating Manumission – The Movie, presenting Channel 5 News on the day George Best died, interviews for Selena Scott, Hardtalk and This Week and appearances on Dinner with Portillo and Heartbeat amongst many others. A Cardiff City supporter, Howard directed the Welsh Celebrity Soccer Six team that included Ian Rush and members of Goldie Looking Chain and reported on the 1998 World Cup in Paris for The Evening Standard. He is also a keen follower of Rugby Union, Boxing and especially Lawn Green Bowls, his interest in which was piqued when he learned it had been made illegal for the hoi polloi by Henry VIII.
Since his release from prison Howard has been politically active, standing for parliament in four separate constituencies (Norwich South, Norwich North, Neath and Southampton Test) in the 1997 general election on the single issue of the legalisation of Cannabis, catalysing the formation of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance. He applied for the position of Drugs Tsar, created by the Labour government in the late 90s but Keith Halliwell 'pipped me at the post'. He continues to campaign vigorously for the legalisation of recreational drugs.