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Graf legend ‘Stay High 149,’ born Wayne Roberts, died on Monday (June 11th) at Calvary Hosptial in the Bronx, reports the New York Times. The influential graffiti artist made his mark in the 70’s and 80’s and disappeared from the scene before realizing his popularity in the 2000s.

In his subway travels he noticed other tags — TAKI 183, JOE 182 and PRAY — and followed suit with his own creation, according to his site. He said he could hit as many as 100 trains a day and twice that at night, when he sometimes did larger pieces.

“In 1972 Wayne was 22, and he was taking the train to deliver all over the city,” said Chris Pape, a younger graffiti artist and co-author, with Sky Farrell, of Mr. Roberts’s biography, titled “Stay High 149,” published by Gingko Press. “He rode empty trains all day with markers in his pocket, and he wrote everywhere.”

Mr. Pape said the Smoker figure was a departure from the tags of the early 1970s, which relied on simple, straight letters, often done by young teenagers who were active only briefly. Soon stylistic flourishes like arrows and loops were added, but none were as successful as the Smoker.

12ozProphet has a number of interviews with the likes of COPE 2 and MARE 139 speaking on the immense influence of the late Stay High whose “Saint” caricature and lettering inspired legions of imitators. Rest In Power.


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Photo: John Narr

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