So you think you know about the history of rock and roll? I would consider myself very knowledgeable, with the exception of an entire block of time in the 60s that was essential in the development of music. Laurel Canyon – The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood fills in the gaps for those of us that think San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury scene got things started. Granted the SF element was very important, but 396 miles down the coast there was a parallel universe taking shape that was of equal importance.
My interest in this book and the subject matter happened because of my fascination with the story of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne, and The Eagles. All three were a big part of this bubbling counterculture stuck in a canyon just outside one of the world centers for entertainment, Los Angeles.
Michael Walker does a nice job of taking you back to when it all began with an in-depth look at the stars who made this place so unique and legendary. There was a lot more to Laurel Canyon than Joni Mitchell, Mama Cass Elliot, and CSN; there were the first groupies, producers, moviemakers, and many others who had their own stories to tell. The one all-time rock great who was probably the most important piece of this puzzle, besides Cass, was Frank Zappa. Zappa and his wife hosted one of the first-ever rock communes. In this day, a SWAT team would be there burning it down to ashes.
I consumed this book like a child hungry for knowledge. It provided me with an education and enlightenment into the music business, as I never had before. I find it amazing that some of the people who were part of that whole period are still around today to tell the tale. I felt as if I was right there front row and center watching it all unfold before me. Even though there were strange happenings and drugs involved, there was innocence about the entire thing.
Of course, that all changed once cocaine made its introduction; then people started getting too weird and everything got scary. Laurel Canyon was never the same. The rock ‘n’ roll nirvana did not last; alas, it never does. There is so much more in between all of that, it all comes together.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who has an attraction to what goes on behind the music. Michael Walker has written the bible of LA music. From cover to cover, it is an absorbing and fascinating read, unforgettable.
Title: Laurel Canyon-The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood
Author: Michael Walker
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Faber & Faber (May 16, 2006)