Snidanko’s fame went international when former Vancouverite Tommy Chong used him as the inspiration for Sgt. Stadanko, the opening track on Cheech and Chong’s 1973 comedy album Los Cochinos.
The fictional Sgt. Stadanko also appeared in the Cheech and Chong films Up in Smoke and Nice Dreams. But what the real Sgt. Snidanko thought about his fictional counterpart is unknown — he declined interviews.
Snidanko died Aug. 2 at his home in Richmond, two months shy of his 80th birthday.
“He had renal failure, heart (failure), everything just shut down,” said his son Ryan. “But he did pass away very peacefully. He was home, he didn’t want to go to the hospital. He was very stubborn that way.”
Adrian Snidanko was born in Smokey Lake, Alta., and grew up in Edmonton, where he was a Golden Gloves boxer. He joined the Mounties when he was 18 and was posted to B.C., initially in Penticton and then in Vancouver.
“He was one of the first members in the Vancouver street crew, (policing) street-level trafficking in the Downtown Eastside and around the city,” said Ryan. “Drugs were a federal jurisdiction back then, so the RCMP had jurisdiction over it.”
As Vancouver became a hippie haven and pot use spread, Snidanko worked hard to stem the tide. Psychedelic music promoter Jerry Kruz recalls that Snidanko went all out at a 1966 Steve Miller show at Kruz’s venue, the Afterthought.
“He had all the traffic stopped on (Fourth Avenue), it was like a movie scene,” said Kruz. “I came out in front and the whole street was blocked off, he had barriers at each end of the street, at Arbutus and Yew. Abe came in with a procession of cops behind him, Abe and (his cohort Const.) Brown.