June 1972: When Cheech and Chong Released the Album with the Giant Rolling Paper Inside

Cheech And Chong, Richard Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, backstage, New York, 1972. . (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
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(Michael Putland/Getty Images)

In the summer of 1972, Cheech and Chong were among the hottest new acts on the comedy circuit. The duo's self-titled debut album was a breakout hit, cracking the top 30 at #28 and nominated for Best Comedy Recording at the Grammys (the award would go to Lily Tomlin's This is a Recording).

Looking to turn up the heat with their second full-length of stoner comedy, Cheech and Chong had an idea: turning the album cover into a 12-inch replica of a package of rolling papers. Referencing real brand Bambu, the Big Bambu album was born.

Featuring one of the act's most popular routines, "Sister Mary Elephant," Big Bambu was among the hottest releases of the summer 1972. The album was such a strong seller that it began to steadily ascend the Billboard charts. On September 30, 1972, the record would peak at the #2 position. The #1 album that week: Chicago V, featuring the hit, "Saturday in the Park."

Like its predecessor, Big Bambu would be recognized with a Grammy nomination in the Best Comedy Recording category. The winner: George Carlin, FM & AM. They would finally strike Grammy gold with their next album, Los Cochinos, taking the Best Comedy Recording prize.

Original vinyl pressings of Big Bambu with the rolling paper intact are increasingly rare, but can be found at vintage record stores and online resellers. 

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