Dave McGowan discusses his book Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, California’s Laurel Canyon was a magical place where a dizzying array of musicians congregated to create the soundtrack to those turbulent times. Members of bands such The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, The Eagles, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Steppenwolf, Captain Beefheart, Alice Cooper and The Doors, along with singer/songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King and Jackson Browne, lived, loved, and jammed together in a seemingly idyllic community nestled in the Hollywood Hills.
But there was a dark side to this pastoral scene. Many didn’t make it out alive, and many of those deaths remain shrouded in mystery to this very day. Far more deeply involved in the scene than most would care to admit was convicted murderer and cult leader Charles Manson, along with his depraved entourage. Also floating about the periphery were various political operatives, up-and-coming politicians, and intelligence personnel – the same sort of people who just happened to give birth to many of the rock stars populating the Canyon. And all of the Canyon’s colorful characters – rock stars, hippies, actors, politicos and murderers – happily coexisted alongside a covert, some would say sinister, military installation. Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon is the very strange, but nevertheless true story of the dark underbelly of a hippie utopia.
Bumper music: Cliff Martinez ‘Traffic OST’
Led Zeppelin ‘In The Evening’ (Legalise Freedom Remix)
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