Wayne Roberts was born in Emporia, VA in 1950; his family migrated to Harlem seven years later.In 1969 Wayne’s best friend Dave gave him the nickname STAYHIGH since he was smoking an ounce of marijuana a week.
In 1971 he started writing STAYHIGH along the Grand Concourse, he quickly added the street number he lived on(149). As a messenger he could hit the trains on the way to work and back, as well as during the day when he had to make deliveries.
STAYHIGH’s style evolved rapidly and in 1972 he added the final element to his signature: the “Smoker.” Wayne had been an avid fan of The Saint television show, which was in reruns in New York. He took the Saint stick figure, turned him around, and drew him smoking a joint. The classic STAYHIGH tag had been formed.
In 1973 New York magazine published an 8 - page essay on the subway graffiti movement, they included a photo of a STAYHIGH piece on a train, as well as a portrait and his tag. New Yorkers could finally place the face with the tag – of course, so could the police. He was arrested just a month later while motion tagging in Brooklyn.
In 2000, after a 25 year disappearance STAYHIGH emerged at a gallery show and was besieged by admirers. He signed over 400 autographs that night and left through a back door as the line for autographs got longer and longer. He was simply overwhelmed.
At the age of 50 STAYHIGH began writing again for a whole new generation, leaving his trademark “Smoker” image everywhere he went, he’s 58 years old and he hasn’t stopped.
STAYHIGH, perhaps more then any other writer truly was The Faith of Graffiti.
(October 20. 1950 – June 11. 2012)
Tribute wall by KONES.MIRO.THINK