If given a temporary time travel option, you would find me in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon of the late 1960s and early 1970s. I realize there are myriad amazing locations in rock and roll history: Greenwich Village, Memphis, Harlem, New Orleans, The Mississippi Delta, Haight-Ashbury, Liverpool, London – but I would be rocking it in L.A.
One of my favorite books is by an author called Michael Walker. He wrote, Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock And Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood. If you have a remote interest in this topic, this book is for you. The following are a few quotes from various parts of the book. For more effect, listen to The Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling” in the background as you read.
“It was the custom in those fading days of the ’60s for the canyon’s freaks to gather across from the Canyon Store on a triangular concrete traffic island formed by the intersection of Kirkwood Drive and Laurel Canyone Boulevard.”
“There wasn’t a star thing going on even with the stars.” – Graham Nash
“Jim Pons of the Leaves was right next door to me. Down the street was Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa. As you went up Lookout, you had Paul Williams, Joe Schermie of Three Dog Night, John Mayall. Robby Krieger and his wife were very good friends; Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night was probably our closest friend – he was best man at my first wedding. Henry [Diltz] lived right across the street. I remember several nights that Joni Mitchell held a kind of court at her house with many of the young writers that were coming through – Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther – a plethora of songwriters passing the guitar around and singing the things they were working on.” – Mark Volman of The Turtles
“L.A. in the late 1960s represented one of those periodic cracks in the pop-cultural fortress when frustrated geniuses from the hinterland are not only tolerated but welcomed.”
“Laurel Canyon is a consciousness, rather than a physical place,” Michael Des Barres, the British singer and actor who lived in the canyon in the 1970s, told me [Michael Walker]. “Like the Chateau Marmont or Carnaby Street, [it] transcends geographics.”
It wasn’t perfect, but music scene-speaking, I’m pretty sure it was.