In the late sixties and early seventies, an impromptu collection of musicians colonized a eucalyptus-scented canyon deep in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles and melded folk, rock, and savvy American pop into a sound that conquered the world as thoroughly as the songs of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones had before them. Thirty years later, the music made in Laurel Canyon continues to pour from radios, iPods, and concert stages around the world. During the canyon's golden era, the musicians who lived and worked there scored dozens of landmark hits, from "California Dreamin'" to "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" to "It's Too Late," selling tens of millions of records and resetting the thermostat of pop culture.
In Laurel Canyon, veteran journalist Michael Walker tells the inside story of this unprecedented gathering of some of the baby boom's leading musical lights—including Joni Mitchell; Jim Morrison; Crosby, Stills, and Nash; John Mayall; the Mamas and the Papas; Carole King; the Eagles; and Frank Zappa, to name just a few—who turned Los Angeles into the music capital of the world and forever changed the way popular music is recorded, marketed, and consumed.
Beginning in the mid-1960s, a string of successful rock bands emerged out of Laurel Canyon, a neighborhood of Los Angeles tucked away in the hills north of Sunset Boulevard. From the success of bands like the Byrds and the Mamas and the Papas, and singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Jimmy Webb, Walker proposes Laurel Canyon as rock's answer to Jazz Age Paris. It's a plausible concept, but one he stumbles to elaborate past the length of a magazine feature. The journalist, who lives in Laurel Canyon, delivers strong material on some of the musicians he cites, particularly in early chapters about Crosby, Stills & Nash and Frank Zappa, but offers little about other equally significant acts. Instead, he pads the story with lengthy sections on groupies and the music scene in other parts of the city, the Altamont concert (which was hundreds of miles away) and a digression on the history of cocaine. Furthermore, his enthusiasm for the Laurel Canyon legend leads to shaky critical pronouncements. If "the folk stars of the early 1960s were the first rock stars," for example, then what was Elvis? 8 pages of b&w photos.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Entertaining yet semi-fictional, contrary to actually categorization
Now to start off, I like this book. It served its purpose of reminiscent entertainment for hippies and their offspring, anyone at all really who is craving juicy 60s and 70s celebrity gossip and stories would love this book.
However, there are quite a few assertions, quotes, facts & figures, that very clearly lack citation, research, specific source information, etc. This would not be a problem, except for the fact that the book is categorized as non-fiction, and presents itself not only as a fact-filled, truthful account of Laurel Canyon and the music scene of LA in the 60s and 70s, but also provides insightful, yet, again, factually baseless accounts of the evolution of the drug culture in the histories of both the US and the UK.
Thus, be warned that this is not technically non-fiction and should be ingested with a large grain of salt and honestly, might do better in the fiction section, due to the aforementioned 'facts' it espouses.
Do enjoy though! Rather entertaining and anecdotal, as historical pop culture accounts go.
What a fantastic read... A must for anyone who lived though the all of the turbulence of the 60s and Self awareness of the 70s or the self aggrandizement of the 80s... Not only is the author chronicalizing the music and culture of the "canyon" itself but it's also an incredible treatise of all American culture as a whole... a clear and concise distinct roadmap as to how we got to where we are as a nation. Exquisitely composed and written, it makes you yearn for the time when misspent youth was the norm... Mr Walker takes you on a trip
through time and space to Laurel Canyon a sociology experiment like no other, and dissects it in front of you with every page... Well worth the read... Just brilliant great writing by the author.