Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops &

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:48 am

7. THE DEATH OF GODO PAULERAS ANGER'S INFANT LUCIFER

"Vito would come in every night with an entourage-mostly four or five really greatlooking girls. It's a weird parallel, but it was like a nonviolent Manson situation, a little cult."

-- Lou Adler, manager/producer of the Mamas and the Papas, co-organizer of the Monterey Pop Festival, investor inlay Sebring's hair salon, and business partner of mobster/club owner Elmer Valentine


"I have said for years that there are some similarities between Vito and Manson ... Vito was sort of like a pimp. He was welcome as a VIP with the emerging rock crowd because he always showed up with these free thinking fourteen- and fifteen-year-old girls that would be happy to satisfy their needs."

-- A member of the Paulekas family, in e-mail correspondence with the author


RECRUITS FOR VITO AND CARlS DANCE TROUPE WEREN'T LIKELY HARD TO come by, given that, according to Miles, Vito operated "the first crash pad in LA, an open house to countless runaways where everyone was welcome for a night, particularly young women." By the mid-1960s, the group had expanded into a second communal location in addition to the basement studio at 303 Laurel Avenue: the ubiquitous Log Cabin. According to Jack Boulware, writing in Mojo, architect Robert Byrd and his son built a new guesthouse (aka 'the treehouse') on the property in the early 1960s, and the "following year, a communal family of weirdos moved into the cabin and treehouse, centered around two underground hipsters named Vito Paulekas and Carl Franzoni, organizers of freeform dance troupes at clubs along the Sunset Strip." By 1967, the dancers were splitting "their rent with staff from the hippie publication The Oracle. Retired journalist John Bilby recalls at least thirty-six people living and partying at the Log Cabin and treehouse, including the band Fraternity of Man. 'Tim Leary was definitely there, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar were there,' Bilby says."

For the record, Fraternity of Man was a one-hit-wonder band best known for the ever-popular novelty song Don't Bogart Me. Tim Leary was, in this writer's humble opinion, best known for being a painfully obvious CIA asset. And The Oracle was a San Francisco-based publication with intelligence ties that specialized in pitching psychedelic occultism to impressionable youth. Leary, it probably should be noted, also had a home of his own in Laurel Canyon.

According to Barry Miles, "Franzoni's commune ended in May 1968," as that was when The Oracle moved out and our old friend Frank Zappa moved in. The lead Mother "had visited Carl at the Log Cabin on a previous trip and realized it was perfect for his needs." And it was an easy move for Frank, since he was already living in Laurel Canyon at the home of Pamela Zarubica (aka Suzy Creamcheese) at 8404 Kirkwood Drive, where Zappa had met his new wife, Gail, and where Gail's old kindergarten pal, Jim Morrison, was known to occasionally pass the time. Ms. Zarubica/Creamcheese was yet another member of Vito's dance troupe.

As multiple sources remember it, Miles is mistaken in his contention that Franzoni's commune came to an end; Frank Zappa took over as ringmaster, to be sure, but Franzoni and all his cohorts stayed on. Carl had a room in the basement, where he was known to bowl in the middle of the night, usually naked and intoxicated. The doomed Christine Frka had a room down there as well, as did other future GTOs. Various other members of the dance troupe occupied other nooks and crannies in both the main house and the guesthouse/treehouse. Indeed, as Miles noted correctly, the freak dancers became so closely associated with the Mothers of Invention that "they got dubbed as 'the Mothers Auxiliary' and Carl Franzoni, in particular, was included in a lot of group photographs." Vito and Carl also received vocal credits on the band's debut album (as did none other than Bobby Beausoleil).

And that, in a nutshell, is the story of Vito and his freak dancers-or at least a sanitized version. Because there is, as it turns out, a very dark underbelly to this story. And much of it is centered around that angelic hippie child that the readers of Life magazine met in 1966, and who we now must sadly add to the Laurel Canyon Death List. For young Godo Paulekas, you see, never made it past the age of three. The specifics of the tragedy are difficult to determine, unfortunately, as there is little agreement in the various accounts of the event.

According to Barry Miles, "Vito and Szou's three-year-old son Godo had fallen through a trapdoor on the roof of the building and died." Michael Walker tells of a "two or three" year old Godo "fall[ing) to his death from a scaffold at the studio." An article in the San Francisco Weekly had it as "a five-year-old boy" who died when he "fell through a skylight." Super-groupie and former freak dancer Pamela Des Barres agreed with the skylight scenario, but not the age: "Vito's exquisite little puppet child, Godot, fell through a skylight during a wacky photo session on the roof and died at age three-and-a-half." Alban Pfisterer of the band Love recalled a much darker scenario: "[Vito) got married, had a baby, gave it acid, and it fell off the roof and died."

When Robert Carl Cohen digitally remastered his notorious Mondo Hollywood for DVD release, he added postscripts for all the famous and infamous people who were featured in his film. For "Godo" Paulekas, he inserted the following caption: "Died age two-victim of medical malpractice." Thus we appear to have a further muddying of the waters. So muddy in fact that in addition to there being various competing 'fell from some scaffolding/fell through a trapdoor/crashed through a skylight' accounts, there are also at least two medical malpractice stories!

Before reviewing those though, it would perhaps be instructive to examine the context in which this tragedy played out. We know, for example, that a musician and writer named Raphael told writer Michael Walker that he had been present one evening at Vito's place when Godo was brought out: "They passed that little boy around, naked, in a circle with their mouths. That was their thing about 'introducing him to sensuality."' We also know that Vito and Szou had a rather odd reaction to the death of their firstborn son and only child, as recounted by Des Barres: "I was beside myself with sorrow, but Vito and Szou insisted on continuing our plans for the evening. We went out dancing, and when people asked where little Godot was, Vito said, 'He died today.' It was weird, really weird."

Barry Miles, who was also close to the scene, had a similar recollection, though he attempted to put a more positive spin on the reaction of the parents: "Vito and Szou's three-year-old son Godo had fallen through a trapdoor on the roof of their building and died. That evening Vito, Szou and the gang went out as usual, dancing with an even fiercer intensity to assuage their grief." Godo died at 7:30 PM on December 23, 1966, some thirty-six hours before Christmas morning. On the side of reality that I live on, the death of a child at any time would deter most parents from going out and partying the night away-that it occurred virtually on the eve of Christmas makes Vito and Szou's actions that much more incomprehensible.

Adding to the weirdness factor is the full text of the quote from the San Francisco Weekly that I previously presented an edited version of: "[Kenneth Anger's] first candidate to play Lucifer, a five-year-old boy whose hippie parents had been fixtures on the Los Angeles counterculture scene, fell through a skylight to his death. By 1967, Anger had relocated to San Francisco and was searching for a new Lucifer." As some readers may be aware, he soon found his new Lucifer in the form of Mansonite and former Grass Roots guitarist Bobby Beausoleil.

And so it was that the soon-to-be convicted murderer replaced the cherubic hippie child as the face of Lucifer. But what was it, one wonders, that drew Anger's twisted eye to the young boy? Beausoleil has said that some of Anger's film projects were for private collectors: "every once in a while he'd do a little thing that wouldn't be for distribution./I Biographer Bill Landis has written that projects such as those led at one time to Anger being investigated by the police on suspicion that he had been producing snuff films.

Pamela Des Barres has shed further light on the dark edges of the freak troupe with this description of a scene that Vito had staged one evening in his studio: "two tenderly young girls were tonguing each other ... everyone was silently observing the scene as if it were part of their necessary training by the headmaster, Vito ... One of the girls on the four-poster was only twelve-years-old, and a few months later Vito was deported to Tahiti for this very situation, and many more just like it."

It was actually Haiti that Vito appears to have fled to, and then to Jamaica (which at the time had no extradition treaty with the United States), accompanied by his wife Szou and their new baby daughter Gruvi Nipples Paulekas, born on June 23, 1967. The couple would have several more offspring, each given an increasingly ridiculous name: Bp Paulekas, born on December 29, 1969; Sky Paulekas, born, bizarrely enough, on what would have been Godo's eighth birthday, December 1, 1971; and Phreekus Mageekus Paulekas, born on January 28, 1974, just a little more than a year before the couple divorced in March of 1975 in Northern California.

According to Miles, Vito's flight from justice occurred in December of 1968, though other accounts vary. Carl Franzoni, meanwhile, became embroiled in some unspecified legal troubles of his own and went into hiding, later resurfacing in Canada by some reports. At around that same time, Frank Zappa moved on to yet another location in Laurel Canyon, a high-security home on Woodrow Wilson Drive.

Also at around that same time, according to author Ed Sanders, the Manson Family came calling at the Log Cabin: "One former Manson family associate claims that a group of four to six family members lived on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the log cabin house once owned by cowboy- actor Tom Mix. They lived there for a few weeks, in late 1968, in a cave-like hollow in back of the residence." According to Franzoni, Manson also came calling at the Vito Clay Studio on Laurel Avenue: "Applebaum took over Vito's place when Vito vacated at Beverly and Laurel. So he inherited all the people that came after that... he was the beginning of the Manson clan. Manson came there because he had heard about Vito but Vito was gone."

It makes perfect sense, in retrospect, that Charles Manson and his Family came calling just as Vito fled the scene, and that a Mansonite replaced the freak child as the embodiment of Lucifer. For the truth, you see, is that in many significant ways, Charles Manson was little more than a younger version of Vito Paulekas. Consider, if you will, all of the following Mansonesque qualities that Paulekas (and to some extent, Franzoni) seemed to share:

• Vito considered himself to be a gifted artist and poet, as did our old friend Charlie Manson.

• Vito, according to Miles, "was something of a guru," as was, quite obviously, Chuck Manson.

• Vito surrounded himself with a flock of very young (often underage) women, as did Manson.

• Vito was considerably older than his followers, and so too was Charlie.

• When Vito addressed his flock, they listened with rapt attention as though they were being delivered the word of God, as was true with Manson as well.

• Carl Franzoni was known to wear a black cape and refer to himself as "Captain Fuck," while Manson was also partial to black capes and would at times declare himself to be "the God of Fuck."

• Vito is said to have had a virtually insatiable libido, as did, by numerous reports, Chuck Manson.

• Vito's flock adopted nicknames to aid in the depersonalization process, as did Charlie's.

• Vito's troupe included a Beverly Hills hairstylist named Sheldon Jaman, while Charlie's included a Beverly Hills hairpiece stylist named Charles Watson.

• Vito believed in introducing children to sexuality at a very young age, while in the Manson Family, as Sanders has noted, "Infant sexuality was encouraged."

• Vito apparently liked to stage live sex shows for his followers involving underage participants, which was also a specialty of Charles Milles Manson.

• Finally, Vito encouraged his followers to drug themselves while he himself largely abstained, thus enabling him to at all times maintain control, while Manson limited his own drug intake for the very same reason.

Franzoni and Manson were not, by the way, the only folks on the Laurel Canyon/Sunset Strip scene who developed a fondness for black capes in the latter half of the 1960s. As Michael Walker noted in Laurel Canyon, during that same period of time David Crosby had "taken to wearing an Oscar Wilde/Frank Lloyd Wright-ish cape wherever he went."

In unrelated news, Ed Sanders notes in his controversial The Family that, "Around March 10, 1968, a convoy of seven Process automobiles containing thirty people and fourteen Alsatian dogs journeyed toward Los Angeles." Vincent Bugliosi added, in his best-selling Helter Skelter, that in "1968 and 1969, the Process launched a major recruiting drive in the United States. They were in Los Angeles in May and June of 1968 and for at least several months in the fall of 1969."

As Gary Lachman wrote in Fortean Times in May 2000, the Process Church of the Final Judgement, often referred to as just "the Process," was "one of the most controversial cults of the Sixties." Formed in 1963 in London as an offshoot of Scientology, the group was the brainchild of Robert Moore, a former cavalry officer who would soon adopt the name Robert DeGrimston, and Mary Ann MacLean, the proprietor of an elite prostitution ring with ties to the UK's so-called Profumo Affair. According to various reports, MacLean was at one time married to famed pugilist and freemason Sugar Ray Robinson, who, as we will see in a later chapter, lived right around the corner from future Love frontman Arthur Lee during that time.

The group arrived in the States in 1968, establishing footholds in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, New York and Boston. The organization soon began producing a magazine that, as Lachmann says, had an "editorial policy [that] favoured Hitler, Satan and gore." Singer/songwriter Marianne Faithfull, who appeared in an issue of the magazine, later distanced herself from the group, saying that "There was something almost like fascism about the Process." The cult's fascist mindset was amply illustrated by their choice of a symbol, which Lachman accurately describes as bearing "an uncanny resemblance to the Nazi swastika."

In The Family, Sanders describes the Process as a "death-worshiping church" composed of "hooded snuffoids" who were directly connected to the Manson murders. Maury Terry likewise fleshed out connections between the Process and New York's Son of Sam murders in his equally controversial The Ultimate Evil. Spokespersons for the cult, not surprisingly, vehemently denied any involvement in any such murderous activities. One thing is certain though: Processians were instantly recognizable on the streets of LA due to their curious habit of donning black capes wherever they went.

In other news, it appears as though Frank Zappa also displayed some of the same less-than-admirable qualities shared by Manson and Paulekas. As Des Barres observed, "Vito was just like Frank, he never got high either. They were both ringmasters who always wanted to be in control." And as Barry Miles noted in his Zappa biography, Frank's daughter Moon "recalls men with straggling beards, body odour and bad posture who crouched naked near her playthings ..." Also, the "Zappa children watched porn with their parents and were encouraged in their own sexuality as soon as they reached puberty. When they became teenagers, Gail insisted they shower with their overnight guests in order to conserve water." Apparently the Zappas were having a hard time paying their DWP bill.

By the early 1970s, Vito Paulekas had resurfaced up north in Cotati, California, with Carl Franzoni once again at his side. The two were, by all accounts, treated like rock stars in the funky little town, and they are to this day proudly and prominently featured on the city's official website. By some accounts, Vito even served as mayor of the town, with Franzoni assisting as his Director of Parks and Recreation. Paulekas also taught dance classes at Sonoma State College. Szou went to work for an attorney, leaving the hippie life behind.

Franzoni, meanwhile, turned up now and then on that early version of America's Got Talent known as The Gong Show (apparently as one of the 'Worm Dancers'). The Gong Show, of course, was the brainchild of Chuck Barris, who famously claimed that during the days when he appeared to be working as a mild-mannered game show producer, he was actually on the payroll of the CIA, and that while he was ostensibly serving as a chaperone to the couples who had won trips on The Dating Game, what he was really doing was carrying out assassinations. Possibly like that Harry Houdini guy, who we'll discuss in a later chapter.

Anyway, during the 1970s, the "cabin and treehouse scene," according to Jack Boulware, "grew creepy." Actually, it had always been pretty creepy; it likely just became a little more openly creepy. Eric Burden of the Animals moved in after Zappa vacated and the property continued to be communally occupied. In fact, it appears to have remained something of a commune throughout the 1970s, quite possibly right up until the time that it burned to the ground on October 31, 1981. Who paid the rent is anybody's guess-as is why such a prestigious property seems to have been made readily available to pretty much any "communal family of weirdos" who wanted to move in.

Vito Paulekas and Carl Franzoni appear to have remained in Northern California throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. Vito married once again, for the fourth time, while he was in his sixties. Franzoni was still milling about the Santa Rosa area as of early 2013. In February of 2008, the aging freak, then reportedly seventy-four, rode along on a tour of 1960s hotspots offered by a local tour company and delighted the crowd by reenacting his distinctive dance style in front of Vito's former studio. The tour operator billed Franzoni as lithe King of the Freaks," a title formerly held by his mentor, Vito Paulekas. The original king, alas, had died in October of 1992. His memorial service was held, appropriately enough, on October 31, 1992-AII Hallows' Eve.

Returning now to the death of young Godo Paulekas, filmmaker Robert Carl Cohen, in an emailed defense of his medical malpractice claim, provided a detailed account of the incident-one that he said was told to him by Carl Franzoni on the evening of the tragedy and retold later by Vito himself: "Godo, two-and-a-half years of age at the time, was with his parents on the roof of 333 Laurel Ave. during a LA Free Press photo shoot. Two older children were holding his hands as they ran about. They led him onto a white-painted glass skylight, which collapsed. Godo fell through, sustaining a cut to his head and bruises. His parents took him to Hollywood Emergency Hospital, where the doctors stitched the cut on his head, and recommended he be taken to LA County General Hospital for observation overnight in case he'd sustained a concussion. A few hours later Vito received a phone call from LA County General that Godo had died. LA County DA [Evelle] Younger, convinced that Godo had been given drugs, ordered two separate autopsies by LA County Coroner Noguchi. The two autopsies both revealed that Godo had no drugs in his system, and that the cause of death had been strangulation due to the child's breathing his own vomit.

"Vito sued LA County for wrongful death due to medical malpractice. The charge was that, in contradiction to standard medical practice, Godo had been restrained by being strapped down on his back-something which is not normally done following a head injury (due to the possibility of the victim strangling on their own vomit). The reason this was done in Godo's case was probably because the child was offending the hospital staff by repeating some of the first words he'd learned, i.e: 'Fuck you!' The LA authorities offered Vito a $20,000 pre-trial settlement, which he refused. I suggested to Vito that, since the case would be tried by a jury of mostly conservative people, usually retired civil servants, he get his long hair cut short, shave his beard and goatee, and wear a business suit and tie. Vito declined changing his appearance. The jury ruled in favor of the hospital."

A member of the Paulekas family heard a much different account, this one also coming directly from Vito: "He [Vito] and Sue told me that Godo fell from the roof through the skylight, as often told, but died when, in the hospital, the District Attorney's office insisted on testing Godot for drugs to prove Vito was drugging his own child. The best way [to test] was with a spinal tap that killed him because he was so young. That was his story to me and he elaborated about his screaming child being tied down in his presence for the spinal tap and then suddenly becoming lifeless."

It is perfectly obvious that both versions of events cannot possibly be true. In one version, Vito was present when Godo died, while in the other he received notification over the phone. One version of reality holds that the boy was tested for drugs after his death, while the other version claims that the drug test was what killed him. Godo was restrained in both versions of events, but in one it's so that he could be administered the spinal tap that killed him, while in the other it is the restraints that killed him-restraints utilized because for some reason he was yelling "fuck you!" at the hospital staff and no one knew of a nonviolent way to deal with an injured three-year-old!

If the medical malpractice story is true, then why did Vito tell more than one version of it? This is clearly not a situation where memories could have faded over time-no parent could confuse such particulars as if they actually watched their child die ... before, of course, donning their dancing shoes and heading out to the Whisky.

There are, to be sure, a number of questions raised by the malpractice scenario, particularly with Cohen's account. For one thing, as if the reaction of the parents was not already difficult to understand, we are now being asked to believe that they went out dancing immediately after Godo was essentially murdered. Also, why is it that no one else who was making the scene in those days seems to remember a malpractice trial? And why were kids being allowed to play unsupervised on a roof? And would a toddler who crashed through a skylight and then fell a considerable distance among shards of broken glass really sustain only a minor cut and a few bruises? And would a hospital really be so callous as to inform parents of the death of a child by telephone? And if Vito was so quick to file suit against the city, why didn't he also sue his landlord for allowing such a dangerous condition to exist?

As it turns out, Godo's LA County Certificate of Death provides some insight into his short life and curious death. Clearly indicated is that the coroner found the cause of death to be "shock" due to "hemorrhage into deep cervical and superior mediastinal areas." The death was deemed to be an "accident" that occurred when Godo "fell through skylight while playing." He did, though, die at Los Angeles General Hospital, at 7:30 PM, precisely five hours after the accident occurred at 2:30 PM (though the times seem oddly approximate).

The timeline offered up by the document certainly seems a bit odd. Despite the fact that Godo died on December 23, his autopsy was not completed until April 13, a delay of nearly four months. Was that delay caused by the fabled second autopsy? Even if that were the case, four months seems like an inordinately long time to hold up the release of the body for burial. To further add to the mystery, even after the body was released, it was almost another full month before it was buried, on May 9, 1967. Why did it take some four-and-a-half months to lay the child to rest?

The tragedy was reported not by the parents, but by a "Mr. Marvin Cahn, Attorney." After a child has suffered a serious accident, do parents with nothing to hide generally delay the arrival of help by calling an attorney and having him contact the proper authorities? It appears that there are, and probably always will be, unanswered questions surrounding the short life and curious death of the angelic hippie child who missed his big-screen debut as Lucifer.

I'll let a member of the Paulekas family provide the final words on the King of the Freaks. Asked by the author if he believed that Vito was a possible pedophile, he answered, "Probably. But I believe you have to go deeper into the libido and drives of so many rock stars and famous people who had an unhealthy relationship with sex and drugs. Any biography of the rockers of that time and probably any time just skirts [around] the reality that their greatest secret and shame includes the sex they had and have with very young girls and boys. Roman Polanski just got caught ... I love hearing from people who tell me Vito saved their soul or protected them from danger when they were young and at risk ... I am sure some became survivors and others fell deeper into the abyss. So it goes."

Indeed.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:49 am

8. ALL THE YOUNG TURKS HOLLYWOOD TRIPPING

"As all halfway-decent managers in the rock era have done, [Jim] Dickson worked on seducing the in-crowd and creating a buzz around [the Byrds] ... The timing was perfect ... LA's baby-boomers were mobile, getting around, looking for action. And now they were joined by the hip elite of Hollywood itself, from Sal Mineo and Peter Fonda to junkie comic Lenny Bruce."

-- Barney Haskyns, writing in Waiting far the Sun


As IMPORTANT AS THE FREAKS WERE TO BUILDING AN AUDIENCE FOR THE new Laurel Canyon bands, there was another group that played a key role as well: Hollywood's so-called Young Turks. Like the freaks, the Turks became an immediate and constant presence on the newly emerging Sunset Strip scene. And as with the freaks, their presence on the Strip was heavily promoted by the media. Locals and tourists alike knew where to go to gawk at the freaks and, as an added bonus, quite possibly rub shoulders with the likes of Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper and Warren Beatty, along with their female counterparts-such as Jane Fonda, Nancy Sinatra and Sharon Tate.

And as with the freaks, the Turks were also instrumental in distracting attention away from the less than stellar musicianship on the stage. After all, young men offered the chance to see Jayne Mansfield in the flesh probably didn't even notice whether there was a band on the stage at all! Mansfield, by the way, like Mansonites Susan Atkins and Bobby Beausoleil, had direct ties to Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan.

Many of these young and glamorous Hollywood stars forged very close bonds with the Laurel Canyon musicians. Some of them, including Peter Fonda, found homes in the canyon so that they could live, work and party among the rock stars (and, in their free time, pass around John Phillips' wife Michelle to just about every swinging dick in the canyon, including Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty, Roman Polanski, and Gene Clark of the Byrds). Some of them never left; Jack Nicholson to this day lives in a spacious estate just off the portion of Mulholland Drive that lies between Laurel Canyon and Coldwater Canyon. Not far west of Nicholson's property (which now includes the neighboring estate formerly owned by Marlon Brando} sits the longtime home of Warren Beatty.

From the symbiotic relationship between Laurel Canyon actors and Laurel Canyon musicians arose a series of feature films that are now considered countercultural classics. One such film was The Trip (1967), an unintentionally hilarious attempt to create a cinematic facsimile of an LSD trip. Written by, of all people, Jack Nicholson, the movie starred fellow Turks Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Bruce Dern. Seated in the director's chair was Roger Corman, who, throughout his career, worked side-by-side with David Crosby's dad on no less than twenty-three feature films. Recruited to supply the soundtrack for the film was Gram Parsons' International Submarine Band (Parsons' music, however, was ultimately not used, though the band does make a brief onscreen appearance). The house where most of the film was shot, at the top of Kirkwood Drive in Laurel Canyon, became the home of Love's Arthur Lee.

Another 'psychedelic' cult film of the late 1960s with deep roots in Laurel Canyon was the Monkees' 1968 big-screen offering, Head. Also scripted by Nicholson (with assistance from Bob Rafelson), the movie included cameo appearances by canyon dwellers Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and Frank Zappa. The music-performed, of course, by the Monkees-was a mix of songs written by the band and contributions from Canyon songwriters like Carole King and Harry Nilsson. Shockingly, some of that music is actually pretty good. Even more shockingly, the movie overall is arguably the most watchable of the 1960s cult films. It is certainly a vast improvement over, for example, 1968's wretched Psych Out (starring Nicholson and Dern).

I do realize, by the way, that some of you out there in readerland cringe every time that I mention the Monkees as though they were a 'real' band. The reality though is that they were every bit as 'real' as most of their contemporaries. And while the made-for-TV Beatles replicants were looked down upon by music critics and fans alike, they were fully accepted as members of the musical fraternity by the other laurel Canyon bands. The homes of both Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork were popular canyon hangouts in the late sixties for a number of 'real' musicians. Also regularly dropping by Dolenz's party house were Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.

The difference in perception between their peers and the public was attributable to the fact that the other bands knew something that the fans did not: the very same studio musicians who appeared without credit on the Monkees' albums also appeared without credit on their albums. And then, of course, there was the fact that so many of laurel Canyon's 'real' musicians had taken a stab at being a part of the Monkees, including Stephen Stills, love's Bryan Maclean, and Three Dog Night's Danny Hutton-all of whom answered the Monkees' casting call and were rejected.

There were undoubtedly other future stars who auditioned for the show as well, though most would probably prefer not to discuss such things. Despite persistent rumors, however, there was one local musician who we can safely conclude did not read for a part: Charles Manson. Given that the show was cast in 1965 and began its brief television run in 1966, while Charlie was still imprisoned at Terminal Island awaiting his release in March of 1967, there doesn't appear to be any way that Manson could have been considered for a part on the show. And that's kind of a shame when you think about it, because if he had been, we might today remember Charlie Manson not as one of America's most notorious criminals, but rather as the guy who made Marcia Brady swoon.

Returning to the countercultural films of the 1960s, the most critically acclaimed of the lot, and the one with the deepest roots in Laurel Canyon, was Easy Rider. Directed by Dennis Hopper, from a script cowritten by he and Peter Fonda, the film starred Fonda and Hopper along with Jack Nicholson. Hopper's walrus-mustachioed character in the film was based on David Crosby, who was regularly seen racing his motorcycle up and down the winding streets of Laurel Canyon. (That motorcycle, by the way, had been a gift from Crosby's good buddy, Peter Fonda.) Fonda's absurd 'Captain America' character was inspired either by John Phillips' riding partner, Gram Parsons, or by Crosby's former bandmate in the Byrds, Roger McGuinn (depending upon who is telling the story). That very same Roger McGuinn scored the original music for the film. His contributions were joined on the soundtrack by offerings from fellow Canyonite musicians Steppenwolf, the Byrds, Fraternity of Man and Jimi Hendrix. And the movie's hippie commune was reportedly created and filmed in the canyons, near Mulholland Drive.

Since Easy Rider had such deep roots in the Laurel Canyon scene, we need to briefly focus our attention here on one other individual who worked on the film, art director Jeremy Kay, aka Jerry Kay. Before Easy Rider, Kay had worked on such cinematic abominations as Angels from Hell, Hells Angels on Wheels (with Jack Nicholson), and Scorpio Rising (Kenneth Anger's occult-tinged homage to gay biker culture). In the mid-1970s, Kay would write, direct and produce a charming little film entitled Satan's Children. Of far more interest here than his film credits though is his membership in the 1960s in a group known as the Solar Lodge of the Ordo Templi Orientis (or OTO), which found itself in the news, and not in a good way, just after Easy Rider opened on theater screens across America.

Two weeks after Easy Rider premiered on July 14, 1969, police acting on a phone tip raided the Solar Lodge's compound near Blythe, California, and found a six-year-old boy locked outdoors in a 6' x 6' wooden crate in the sweltering desert heat. The young boy, whose father was a Los Angeles County probation officer, had been chained to a steel plate for nearly two months in temperatures reaching as high as 117° F. According to an FBI report, the box also contained a can "partially filled with human waste and swarming with flies ... The stench was nauseating." Before being put in the box, the child had been burned with matches and beaten with bamboo poles by cult members. The leader of the cult, Georgina Brayton, had reportedly told cult members that "when it was convenient, she was going to give [the boy] LSD and set fire to the structure in which he was chained and give him just enough chain to get out of reach of the fire." Killing the child had also been discussed (and apparently condoned by the boy's mind-fucked mother).

Eleven adult members of the sect were charged with felony child abuse, the majority of them young white men in their early twenties. All were brought to trial and convicted. In a curious bit of timing, the raid that resulted in the arrests and convictions coincided with the torture and murder of musician Gary Hinman by a trio of Manson acolytes. Though it is, not surprisingly, vehemently denied by concerned parties, various sources have claimed that Manson had ties to the group, which also maintained a home near the USCcampus in Los Angeles. There is no doubt that Charlie preached the same dogma, including the notion of an apocalyptic race war looming on the horizon. The massacre at the Tate residence occurred less than two weeks after the raid on the OTO compound. Manson's Barker Ranch hideout would be raided a few months later, on October 12, 1969-the birthday, as I may have already mentioned, of Aleister Crowley, the Grand Poobah of the OTO until his death in 1947.

Anyway, sorry about that little digression, folks. I'm not entirely sure how we ended up at the Barker Ranch when the focus of this chapter was supposed to be on the Young Turks. So having now established that those Turks were a fully integrated part of the Laurel Canyon/Sunset Strip scene, and also that they played an important role in luring the public out to the new clubs to check out the new bands, our next task is to get to know a little bit about who these folks were and where they came from. Let's begin with Mr. Bruce Dern, who has some of the most provocative connections of any of the characters in this story.

It is probably safe to say that Dern's parents had rather impressive political connections, given that baby Bruce's godparents were sitting First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and future two-time Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson (he lost both times, in 1952 and 1956, to Eisenhower). Bruce's paternal grandfather was a guy by the name of George Dern, who served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Roosevelt (for the youngsters in the crowd, Secretary of War is what we used to call the Secretary of Defense in a slightly less Orwellian era). George had also served as Governor of Utah and Chairman of the National Governors' Association. Bruce's mother was born Jean MacLeish, and she happened to be the sister of Archibald MacLeish, who also served under Franklin Roosevelt, as the Director of the War Department's Office of Facts and Figures and as the Assistant Director of the Office of War Information. In other words, Archibald MacLeish was essentially America's Minister of War Propaganda. He also served at various times as an Assistant Secretary of State and as the Librarian of Congress. Perhaps the most impressive item on his resume, however, was his membership in everyone's favorite secret society, Skull and Bones (class of 1915, one year before Prescott Bush was tapped in 1916).

It would appear then, that, even by Laurel Canyon standards, Mr. Dern has friends in very high places. Let's turn our attention next to the guy who shared the screen with Dern in The Trip, Mr. Peter Fonda. Of course, we all know that Fonda is the son of good ol' Hank Fonda, lovable Hollywood liberal and all-around nice guy. And certainly even a contrarian such as myself would not be so bold as to suggest that Henry Fonda might have some skeletons in his closet ... right? Just for the hell of it, though, there are a few chapters of the Hank Fonda saga that we should probably review here.

We can begin, I suppose, by noting that Hank served as a decorated US Naval Intelligence officer during WWII, thus sparing Peter the stigma of being the only member of the Laurel Canyon in-crowd to have not been spawned by a member of the military/intelligence community. Not too many years after the war, Hank's wife, Francis Ford Seymour -- who claimed to be a direct descendant of Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII-was found with her throat slashed open with a straight razor. Peter was just ten years old at the time of his mother's alleged suicide on April 14, 1950. When Seymour had met and married Hank, she was the widow of George Brokaw, who had, curiously enough, previously been married to prominent CIA operative Claire Booth Luce.

Fonda rebounded quickly from Seymour's unusual death and within eight months he was married once again, to Susan Blanchard, to whom he remained married until 1956. In 1957, Hank married yet again, this time to Italian Countess Afdera Franchetti (who followed up her four-year marriage to Fonda with a rumored affair with newly-sworn-in President John Kennedy). Franchetti, as it turns out, is the daughter of Baron Raimondo Franchetti, who was a consultant to fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. The countess is also the great-granddaughter of Louise Sarah Rothschild, of the Rothschild banking family (perhaps you've heard of them?).

Before moving on, I should probably mention that Hank's first wife, Margaret Sullavan-who was yet another child of Norfolk, Virginia- also allegedly committed suicide, on New Year's Day, 1960. Nine months later, her daughter Bridget followed suit. In 1961, very soon after the deaths of first her mother and then her sister, Sullavan's other daughter, Brook Hayward, walked down the aisle with the next Young Turk on our list, Dennis Hopper. For those who may be unfamiliar with Hopper's body of work, he is the guy who was once found wandering naked and bewildered in a Mexican forest. And the guy who, after divorcing Hayward in 1969, married Michelle Phillips on Halloween day, 1970, only to have her file for divorce just eight days later claiming that Hopper had kept her handcuffed and imprisoned for a week while making "unnatural sexual demands."

Without passing judgment here, I think it's fair to say that Michelle Phillips has been around the block a time or two, if you catch my drift, so if even she thought Hopper's demands were a bit over the top, then one can only wonder just how "unnatural" they might have been. For what it's worth, Hopper once told a journalist that he "didn't handcuff her, [he] just punched her out!" In his mind, apparently, that made him somewhat less of a troglodyte.

Most official biographies of Hopper would lead one to believe that he was the son of a simple farmer. Dennis recently acknowledged, however, that that was clearly not the case: "My mother's father was a wheat farmer and I was raised on their farm. But my father was not a farmer." To the contrary, Hopper's dad was "a working person in intelligence" who during WWII "was in the OSS. He was in China, Burma, India." Hopper has proudly proclaimed that his father "was one of the 100 guys that liberated General Wainright out of prison in Korea," which might be a little more impressive were it not for the fact that it was actually the Red Army that freed Wainright and other prisoners; the US intel team just came to pick them up, debrief them and transport them home ... but that, I suppose, isn't really relevant.

After the war, according to Hopper, his dad routinely carried a gun, which I suppose is what most lay ministers in the Methodist Church do. The family also left the farm in Kansas and relocated to San Diego, California, home of the Imperial Beach Naval Air Station, the United States Naval Radio Station, the United States Naval Amphibious Base, the North Island Naval Air Station, Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation, the United States Naval Training Center, the United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. And just north of the city sits the massive Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. Other than that, though, San Diego is just a sleepy little beach town where Hopper's dad ostensibly worked for the Post Office.

The more recent incarnation of Dennis Hopper, by the way, was wildly at odds with the hippie image that he had at one time tried very hard to cultivate. Before his death on May 29, 2010, Hopper was an unapologetic cheerleader for right-wing causes, who proudly boasted of having voted a straight Republican ticket for over thirty years.

To briefly recap then, we have thus far met three of the 'Young Turks' and we have found that one of them is the nephew of a Bonesman, another is the son of a Naval Intelligence officer who was once married to a Rothschild descendent, and the third was the slightly deranged son of an OSS officer. Come to think of it, we have actually covered one of the 'Turkettes' as well, since Jane Fonda obviously came from the same family background as her younger brother, Peter. As for the other female members of the posse, Sharon Tate was the daughter of Lt. Col. Paul Tate, a career US Army intelligence officer, and Nancy Sinatra is, of course, the daughter of Francis Albert Sinatra, whose known associates included Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Sam Giancana, Carlo Gambino, Goetano Luchese and Joseph Fishetti (a cousin of Al Capone).

Frank Sinatra was also a client of hairdresser-to-the-stars Jay Sebring, as was Henry Fonda, who at one time, strangely enough, lived in the guesthouse at 10050 Cielo Drive. Yet another client of Sebring's was the next Young Turk on our list, Warren Beatty, whose father, Ira Owens Beaty, was ostensibly a professor of psychology. Young Warren, however, spent all of his early years living in various spooky suburbs of Washington, DC. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1937, after which his father moved the family to Norfolk, Virginia, which I think I may have mentioned is home to the world's largest Naval facility (the reason for that, by the way, is that Norfolk is the gateway to the nation's capital). The family later relocated to Arlington, Virginia, home of the Pentagon, where Warren attended high school and where he was known on the football field as-recalls John Phillips, who attended a rival school-"Mad Dog" Beaty.

Ira Beaty's relatively frequent relocations, and the fact that those relocations always seemed to land the family in DC suburbs that are of considerable significance to the military/intelligence community, would tend to indicate that Warren's dad was something other than what he appeared to be-though that is, of course, a speculative assessment. But if Ira Beaty was on the payroll of some government entity, working within the psychology departments of various DC-area universities, then it wouldn't require a huge leap of faith to further speculate about what type of work he was doing, given the wholesale co-opting of the field of psychology by the MK-ULTRA program and affiliated projects.

The next Young Turk up for review is the one who went on to become arguably the most acclaimed actor of his generation, Mr. Jack Nicholson. Before getting to him though, let's take a look at a biographical sketch of serial killer Ted Bundy as presented by Wikipedia: "Bundy was born at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. The identity of his father remains a mystery ... To avoid social stigma, Bundy's grandparents Samuel and Eleanor Cowell claimed him as their son; in taking their last name, he became Theodore Robert Cowell. He grew up believing his mother Eleanor Louise Cowell to be his older sister. Bundy biographers Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth state that he learned Louise was actually his mother while he was in high school. True crime writer Ann Rule states that it was around 1969, shortly following a traumatic breakup with his college girlfriend."

Now if we just change a few names here and there, we come up with an accurate bio of Jack Nicholson, which goes something like this: Nicholson was born at some indeterminate location to an underage, unwed showgirl. The identity of his father remains a mystery ... To avoid social stigma, Nicholson's grandparents John Joseph and Ethel Nicholson claimed him as their son; in taking their last name, he became John Joseph Nicholson, Jr. He grew up believing his mother June Francis Nicholson to be his older sister. Reporters state that he learned June was actually his mother in 1974, when he was thirty-seven years old. By then, June had been dead for just over a decade, having only lived to the age of forty-four.

It is said that Nicholson was born at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City, but there is no record of such a birth either at the hospital or in the city's archives. As it turns out, Jack Nicholson has no birth certificate. Until 1954, by which time he was nearly an adult, he did not officially exist. Even today, the closest thing he has to a birth certificate is a 'Certificate of a Delayed Report of Birth' that was filed on May 24, 1954. The document lists John and Ethel Nicholson as the parents and identifies the location of the birth as the Nicholsons' home address in Neptune, New Jersey.

It appears then that there is no way to determine who Jack Nicholson really is. He has told journalists that he has no interest in identifying who his father was, nor, it would appear, in verifying his mother's identity. What we do know is that the nucleus of the 1960s clique known as the Young Turks (and Turkettes) was composed of the following individuals: the nephew of a Bonesman; the son of an ass officer; the son of a Naval intelligence officer; the daughter of that same Naval intelligence officer; the daughter of an Army intelligence officer; the daughter of a guy who openly associated with prominent gangsters throughout his life; the son of a possible spychologist; and a guy whose early years are so shrouded in mystery that he mayor may not actually exist.

I should probably also mention here that Henry Fonda scored his first acting gig through Dorothy "Dody" Brando, the director of a local theater and the mother of Jack Nicholson's future neighbor, Marlon Brando. Being the small world that it is, Marlon's mom happened to be a good friend of Hank's mom, Elma Fonda. Truth be told, the families had likely had close ties for a long time. A very long time. The ancestors of both Marlon Brando and Henry Fonda, you see, arrived in New York at nearly the same time, roughly three-and-a-half centuries ago.

Marlon Brando is in a direct line of descent from French Huguenot colonists Louis DuBois and Catharine Blanchan DuBois (and no, I'm not making that up), who arrived in New York from Mannheim, Germany, circa 1660 and promptly founded New Rochelle. Other descendents of DuBois include former US Senator Leverett Saitonstall, former Massachusetts Governor and Council on Foreign Relations member William Weld, former California First Lady Maria Shriver, and quite likely US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Zachary Taylor.

Henry Fonda, on the other hand, is a direct descendent of Jellis Douw Fonda and Hester Jans Fonda, Dutch colonists who arrived in New York circa 1650 and settled near what would become Albany. The Fondas had sailed out of Friesland, Netherlands, on a ship dubbed the Valckenier, which happened to be co-owned by a very wealthy Dutchman by the name of Jan-Baptist van Rensselaer. And Mr. van Rensselaer, as those who have been paying attention in class will recall, happened to be from the bloodline that would one day produce a guy by the name of David van Cortland Crosby.

It would appear then that Peter Fonda kind of owed Crosby that Triumph motorcycle that he gave him back in the sixties, what with David's ancestors having been cool enough to give Peter's ancestors a lift over to the New World and all.

Let's wrap up this chapter with a quick review of what we have learned about the people populating Laurel Canyon in the mid-to-late 1960s. We know that one subset of residents was a large group of musicians who all decided, nearly simultaneously, to flood into the canyon. The most prominent members of this group were, to an overwhelming degree, the sons and daughters of the military/intelligence community. We also know that mingled in with them were the young stars of Hollywood, who also were, to an astonishing degree, the sons and daughters of the military/intelligence community. And, finally, we know that also in the mix were scores of military/intelligence personnel who operated out of the facility known as Lookout Mountain Laboratory.

I've got to say that, given the relatively small size of Laurel Canyon, I'm beginning to wonder if there was any room left over for any normal folks who might have wanted to live the rock'n'roll lifestyle.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:51 am

9. WEIRD SCENES INSIDE THE CANYON

"There were a lot of weird people around. There was one guy who had a parrot caned Captain Blood, and he was always scrawling real cryptic things on the inside walls of my house - Neil Young's too."

-- Joni Mitchell, describing the Laurel Canyon scene toward the end of the 1960s


As IT TURNS OUT, LAUREL CANYON WAS LARGE ENOUGH TO ACCOMMODATE at least a few more strange characters. Two of them were guys named Jerry Brown and Mike Curb. Actually, it's unclear whether Curb ever lived there, but he was very much a part of the scene in the 1960s and 1970s.

Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr. had a decidedly conservative upbringing. Born into a politically well-connected Republican family, Jerry devoted his early years to pursuing a career in the Jesuit priesthood. His father, a very active Republican Party operative, was an aspiring politician who initially had no luck in getting himself elected to public office. He ultimately succeeded though in capturing the coveted California Governor's seat in 1959, and he did it by employing a simple gimmick: he changed the "R" after his name to a "D" and was reborn as a Democrat. He held the seat for two terms, through to 1967, and then was replaced by a guy who had employed the exact same trick in reverse: he had replaced the "D" after his name with an "R."

That gentleman, of course, was Ronald Wilson Reagan, and he would govern the state through 1975, after which he handed the reins back over to the Brown family, this time to the younger Edmund Brown, who, like his dad, had decided that he was a liberal Democrat. In fact, according to the consensus opinion of the media at the time, Jerry was an ultraliberal extremist whose politics fell somewhere to the left of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

During Laurel Canyon's glory years, Jerry Brown resided in a home on Wonderland Avenue, within easy walking distance of the Wonderland death house and the homes of numerous singers, songwriters and musicians. His circle of friends in those days, as was widely reported, included the elite of Laurel Canyon's country-rock stars, including Linda Ronstadt (with whom he was long rumored to be romantically involved), Jackson Browne and the Eagles.

Another figure making the rounds in Laurel Canyon during the same period of time was Mike Curb. At various times, Curb worked as a musician, composer, recording artist, film producer and record company executive. He also had the notable distinction of serving as the musical director on the notorious documentary feature Mondo Hollywood, which ostensibly chronicled the emerging Laurel Canyon/Sunset Strip scene. Filmed from 1965 through 1967, the film featured representatives from the Manson Family (Bobby Beausoleil), the Manson Family's victims (Jay Sebring), the freak troupe (Vito, Carl, Szou and Godo), and Laurel Canyon's musical fraternity (Frank Zappa, along with his future wife, Gail Sioatman). It also featured acid guru Richard Alpert, Jerry Brown's father, Pat Brown, and Princess Margaret, a good friend to John Phillips and a rumored lover of Mick Jagger.

As noted, Mondo Hollywood was the creation of filmmaker Robert Carl Cohen. It turns out he, too, had an interesting background for a guy destined to capture on film the emerging 1960s countercultural scene. In 1954, Cohen served in the US Army Signal Corps. The following year, he was on assignment to NATO. Following that, he served in Special Services in Germany. The very next year, he produced, directed, edited and narrated a documentary short entitled Inside Red China. Two years later, he wore all the same hats for a documentary entitled Inside East Germany. A few years later, he put together another documentary entitled Three Cubans, a decidedly unsympathetic take on the Cuban revolution.

Cohen has proudly proclaimed that he was the first (or at least among the first) Western journalists/filmmakers allowed to enter and shoot footage in each of those ostensibly communist countries. In the case of Cuba (and likely the others as well), he did so under the direct sponsorship of the US State Department. Mr. Cohen would like us to believe that he undertook those projects as nothing more than what he outwardly appeared to be-an independent filmmaker-but a great deal of naivete is required to believe that a private citizen not working for the intelligence community could land such assignments.

The Los Angeles Times, in a lengthy critique of Cohen's counterculture film published on October 1, 1967, offered up some curious and long-forgotten facts about the documentary feature: "I cannot presume to guess how much real life pokes through Mondo Hollywood. In violent, sudden ways, real death did intrude during the eighteen months of picture making. Three people were killed in automobile crashes. One of them was Jayne Mansfield, whose brief appearance-as a celebrity in a montage of premieres-remains in the final movie. The other two, including a bona fide philosopher, were scheduled to appear but died before filming. A writer who was to play himself died of drugs. A threeyear- old child died of a fall through a trap door, although he and his parents are still in the picture. A pilot, who had agreed to fly in the film, died of a midair crash. In all, six people-none of them old, none of them in bed-died before Mondo Hollywood was released. Several buildings were also destroyed in this impermanent place. And the Goodyear blimp, which provided the platform for some spectacular aerials in the finished movie, crashed one day after its chores were done."

It appears then, that, just as in the real Laurel Canyon, Cohen's celluloid version masked a backdrop of violence, destruction and death.

As for Mike Curb, in addition to his work on Mondo Hollywood, he also served as 'song producer' on another key countercultural film of the era, Riot on the Sunset Strip (which, despite its title, had little to do with the actual event). In addition, Curb scored a slew of cheaply produced biker flicks, including The Wild Angels, Devil's Angels, Born Losers, The Savage Seven and The Glory Stampers. Along the way, he worked alongside many of Laurel Canyon's 'Young Turks,' including Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

It is unclear whether the paths of Jerry Brown and Mike Curb crossed during Laurel Canyon's glory years, but as fate would have it, they were to cross in 1979 in Sacramento, California. Mike Curb, as it turns out, after being encouraged by Ronald Reagan to venture into politics, was elected to serve as Governor Jerry Brown's second-in-command. And so it was that these two men, both veterans of the 1960s Laurel Canyon scene, came to sit side-by-side in the governor's mansion, one sporting a "D" after his name and the other an "R."

Governor Brown, however, had little time to spend on actually governing the state of California. Tossing his hat into the presidential ring, he spent much of his time out of the state, working the campaign trail. That allowed Lieutenant Governor Curb, as acting governor of the state, to sign into law a withering array of reactionary legislation that was very far removed from what the people of California thought they were getting when they elected 'Governor Moonbeam.' This arrangement allowed the nominal liberal of the Laurel Canyon tag-team, Jerry Brown, to keep his hands clean even as his administration moved far away from its originally stated goals-and even as he made little effort to rein in his underling.

Brown and Curb weren't the only up-and-coming politicos who managed to find living space in Laurel Canyon back in the day. In July 2008, the venerable Washington Post revealed that a former reporter and novelist by the name of Alex Abella had "written a history of RAND, which was founded more than sixty years ago by the Air Force as a font of ideas on how that service might fight and win a nuclear war with the USSR... Abella focuses on Albert Wohlstetter, a mathematical logician turned nuclear strategist who was the dominant figure at RAND starting in the early 1950s and whose influence has extended beyond his death in 1997 into the current Bush administration ... Wohlstetter epitomized what became known as the 'RAND approach'-a relentlessly reductive, determinedly quantitative analysis of whatever problem the independent, non-profit think tank was assigned, whether the design of a new bomber or improving public education in inner-city schools."

The RAND Corporation is a lot of things, but "independent" has never been one of them. Also in the Post's book review, we find that "it was not so much Wohlstetter himself as his acolytes ... who had a major impact in Washington." Most of those acolytes need little introduction: former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle (who once dated Wohlstetter's daughter); former US ambassador, President of the World Bank, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; former US ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad; and Andrew Marshall, who has served as the director of the United States Department of Defense's Office of Net Assessment for forty years and who served as a mentor to Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

In the latter halfofthe 1950s and into the early 1960s, while Wohlstetter was with the RAND Corporation and also serving as a professor at UCLA (and while his wife Roberta also worked as an analyst for RAND), Albert and his followers-the men who would serve as the architects of US foreign policy during the George W. Bush administration-regularly met in a heavily wooded neighborhood in Los Angeles known as Laurel Canyon. As Gregg Herken wrote in his review of Abella's book, "those bright, eager and ambitious young men ... had sat cross-legged on the floor with their mentor at his stylish house in Laurel Canyon." Just as, not far away, Vito's eager young followers sat cross-legged with their mentor. And just as, also not far away, Charles Manson's eager young followers would sit cross-legged on the floor with their mentor.

Paul Young, writing in LA Exposed, revealed that, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was another curious group calling Laurel Canyon home: "The most infamous male madam [throughout LA's sordid history] would have to be Billy Bryars, the wealthy son of an oil magnate, and part-time producer of gay porn. Bryars was said to have a stellar group of customers using his 'brothel' at the summit of Laurel Canyon. In fact, some have claimed that none other than J. Edgar Hoover, the founder and chief executive officer of the FBI, was one of his best clients ... when Bryars fell under police scrutiny in 1973, allegedly for trafficking in child pornography, officers obtained a number of confessions from some of his hustlers, and some of them identified Hoover and [Clyde] Tolson as 'Mother John' and 'Uncle Mike,' and claimed that they had serviced them on numerous occasions."

It appears then that the top law-enforcement officials in the nation were also a part of the Laurel Canyon scene, along with various other unnamed persons of prominence. And we also find, perhaps not too shockingly at this point, that Laurel Canyon was a portal of child pornography.

In January of 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the passing of "Ron Patterson, the flamboyant, free-spirited creator of the Renaissance and Dickens fairs," who had "died Jan. 15 at a friend's house in Sausalito after an illness. He was eighty." As staff writer Carolyn Jones noted in the article, Patterson's creation "was sort of a medieval precursor to Burning Man." And Burning Man is, of course, a rather explicitly occult ritual first performed on the summer solstice of 1986 and now performed every summer in Nevada's Black Rock Desert before an audience of over 50,000.

"In the beginning, the Renaissance Faire was an experiment in Mr. Patterson's backyard. In the early 1960s, Mr. Patterson and his wife, Phyllis, who were both interested in theater and art, began hosting children's improvisational theater workshops at their Laurel Canyon (Los Angeles County) home." One naturally wonders whether aspiring thespian and golden child Godo Paulekas (originally cast, it will be recalled, to play the lead in Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising) was involved in those workshops. In any event, there is something decidedly creepy about children's workshops being hosted in a small, tight-knit community that was home to a child pornography ring and more than its fair share of pedophiles.

Yet another curious character to take up residence in Laurel Canyon was producer Paul Rothchild, who played a key role in shaping the sound of both the Doors and Love. In June 1981, Sports Illustrated publisher Philip Howlett penned a short piece to introduce readers to new writer Bjarne Rostaing: "Born in Lincoln, N.Y., Rostaing grew up in various places in Connecticut, where he attended what he recalls as an even dozen schools. 'I got my B.A. and master's in English from the University of Connecticut,' he says. 'Then I did part of a Ph.D. at the University of Washington before going into the Army Intelligence Corps in 1959. We had Paul Rothchild, who later became producer for the Doors and Janis Joplin, to give you some idea of what the unit was like.'"

It was, in all likelihood, like countless other intelligence units designed to churn out shapers of public opinion, whether actors, novelists, newsmen, or, in this case, sportswriters and producers of popular music. It is quite shocking, of course, to learn that the handler of two of Laurel Canyon's most influential and groundbreaking bands had a background in intelligence work. Apparently the search is still on for anyone of any prominence in the Laurel Canyon scene who didn't have direct connections to the intelligence community.

Bjarne Rostaing would, perhaps not surprisingly, develop his own indirect connections to the Laurel Canyon music scene. His most notable contribution to the field of literature was penning the mass-market paperback version of Phantom of the Paradise, the campy tale of a Phil Spector-inspired music producer who had sold his soul to the devil for fame and fortune and who subsequently manipulated a disfigured young singer/songwriter into likewise selling his soul. The theatrical version, released on Halloween day 1974 and carrying the tagline "he sold his soul for rock'n'roll," starred Laurel Canyon's own Paul Williams as Swan, the demonic producer who surrounds himself with nubile young women eager to do his bidding. Williams, who lived on Lookout Mountain alongside numerous other singer/songwriters, also scored the film.

It is, I'm sure, entirely coincidental that two guys who emerged from the same intelligence unit in the early 1960s would follow such curious career paths-one, Paul Rothchild, becoming what many on the scene in those days would have described as a demonic rock music producer, and the other, Bjarne Rostaing, penning a novel about a demonic rock music producer.

There was one other person who, while he never took up residence in Laurel Canyon, had a profound influence on the scene. That guy was Augustus Owsley Stanley III, the premier LSD chemist of the hippie era. No one-not Ken Kesey, not Richard Alpert, not even Timothy Leary -- did more to 'turn on' the youth of the 1960s than Owsley. Leary and his cohorts may have captured the national media spotlight and created public awareness, but it was Owsley who flooded the streets of San Francisco and Laurel Canyon with consistently high quality, inexpensive, readily available acid. By most accounts, he was never in it for the money and he routinely gave away more of his product than he sold. What then was his motive? According to Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain, writing in Acid Dreams, "Owsley cultivated an image as a wizard-alchemist whose intentions with LSD were priestly and magical."

Owsley is revered by many as something of an icon of the 1960s counterculture-a man motivated by nothing more than an altruistic desire to 'turn on' the world. But his rather provocative background and family history suggest that his intentions may not have necessarily been so altruistic.

Augustus Owsley Stanley III was the son, naturally enough, of Augustus Owsley Stanley II, who served as a military officer during WWII aboard the USS Lexington and thereafter found work in Washington, DC as a government attorney. He raised his son primarily in Arlington, Virginia. Young Owsley's grandfather was Augustus Owsley Stanley, who served as a member of the US House of Representatives from 1903 through 1915, as the Governor of Kentucky from 1915 through 1919, and as a US Senator from 1919 through 1925; Senator Stanley's father, a minister with the Disciples of Christ, served as a judge advocate with the Confederate Army. Owsley's mother was a niece of William Owsley, who also served as a Governor of Kentucky, from 1844 through 1848, and who lent his name to Owsley County, Kentucky.

During Owsley Ill's formative years, he attended the prestigious Charlotte Hall Military Academy in Maryland, but was reportedly tossed out in the ninth grade for being intoxicated. Not long after that, at the tender age of fifteen, Owsley voluntarily committed himself to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in the nation's capitol. St. Elizabeth's, it should be noted, had a far more sinister name upon its founding in 1855: the Government Hospital for the Insane. He remained confined there for treatment for the next fifteen months. During that time, his mother, in keeping with one of the recurrent themes of this saga, passed away.

Owsley apparently resumed his education following his curious confinement, but he had reportedly dropped out of school by the age of eighteen. Nevertheless, he apparently had no trouble at all gaining acceptance to the University of Virginia, which he attended for a time before enlisting in the USAir Force in 1956, at the age of twenty-one. During his military service, Owsley was an electronics specialist, working in radio intelligence and radar. After his stint in the Air Force, Owsley set up camp in the Los Angeles area, ostensibly to study ballet.

During that same time, he also worked at Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which was undoubtedly the primary reason for his move to LA In 1963, Owsley moved once again, this time to Berkeley, California, which just happened to be ground-zero of the budding anti-war movement. He mayor may not have briefly attended UC Berkeley, which is where he allegedly cribbed the recipe for LSD from the university library. Owsley soon began cooking up both Methedrine and LSD in a makeshift bathroom lab near the campus of the university. On February 21, 1965, that lab was raided by state narcotics agents who seized all his lab equipment and charged Stanley with operating a meth lab. As Barry Miles recounted in Hippie, "Berkeley was awash with speed and Owsley was responsible for much of it."

Nevertheless, Owsley walked away from the raid unscathed, and, with the help of his attorney, who happened to be the vice-mayor of Berkeley, he even successfully sued to have all his lab equipment returned. He quickly put that equipment to work producing some four million tabs of nearly pure LSD in the mid-1960s.

Immediately after the raid of February 1965, Owsley and his frequent sidekicks, the Grateful Dead, moved down to the Watts area of Los Angeles, of all places, to ostensibly conduct 'acid tests.' The group rented a house that was conveniently located right next door to a brothel, curiously paralleling the modus operandi of various intelligence operatives who were (or had been) involved in conducting their own 'acid tests.' The band departed the communal dwelling in April 1965. It was a fortuitous departure as it turned out, since just a few months later, Watts exploded in violence that left thirty-four corpses littering the streets.

Owsley had been with the Dead from the band's earliest days, as both a financial backer and as their sound engineer. He is credited with numerous electronic innovations that changed the way live rock music was presented to the masses-and likely not in a good way, given that his work as a sound technician undoubtedly drew heavily upon his military training.

In 1967, Owsley unleashed on the Haight a particularly nasty hallucinogen known as STP. Developed by the friendly folks at Dow Chemical, STP had been tested extensively at Frank Zappa's former home, the Edgewood Arsenal, as a possible biowarfare agent before being distributed to hippies as a recreational drug. Owsley reportedly obtained the recipe from Alexander Shulgin, a former Harvard man who developed a keen interest in psychopharmacology while serving in the US Navy. Shulgin worked for many years as a senior research chemist at Dow and later worked very closely with the DEA.

In 1970, Owsley began serving time after a conviction on drug charges. That time was served, appropriately enough, at Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution, the very same prison that had, just a few years earlier, housed both Charlie Manson and Flying Burrito Brothers' road manager Phil Kaufman. A few years later, it would also be home to both Timothy Leary and his alleged nemesis, G. Gordon Liddy. After his release, Owsley continued to work as a sound technician, eventually graduating to a new medium: television.

Owsley eventually moved to Australia in the 1980s, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1996. On March 12, 2012, the aging chemist was reportedly killed in an automobile accident near his Queensland home when his car veered off the road in a storm and plowed into some trees.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:57 am

10. HELTER SKELTER IN A SUMMER SWELTER RETURN OF THE DEATH LIST

"Everybody was experimenting and taking it all the way. It opened up a negative force of energy that was almost demonic."

-- Frank MazoIla, editor of the film Performance


IT IS NOW, SAD TO SAY, TIME TO ADD SOME MORE NAMES TO THE EVER-growing Laurel Canyon Death List. The first new name is Mr. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, who purportedly drowned without assistance in his home swimming pool on July 3, 1969, at the age of twenty-seven. (Jim Morrison would allegedly die precisely two years later, also at the age of twenty-seven.) Just three days after Jones' tragic death, the Stones, with the Hell's Angels providing security, played a previously scheduled concert in Hyde Park, footage of which appears in Kenneth Anger's Invocation of My Demon Brother. Despite being the founder of the Stones and being widely regarded as the main creative force within the band, Jones had been unceremoniously dumped by the group on June 9, less than a month before his death. He was replaced just four days later by Mick Taylor, who in turn was later replaced by Ron Wood. It would later be claimed that Jones was booted from the band due to his chronic substance abuse problems, although Keith Richards' legendary drug intake never seemed to pose a problem for the group.

The Rolling Stones were not, to be sure, a Laurel Canyon band, but they did spend a considerable amount of time there and they were very closely tied to the scene. As Barney Hoskyns writes in Hotel California, "In the summer of 1968 the English band was flirting heavily with Satanism and the occult ... and spending a lot of time in Los Angeles." A lot of time, that is, in and around Laurel Canyon-and during that time, Mick Jagger was involved in two occult-drenched, Crowley-influenced film projects, Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising and Donald Cammell's Performance.

Jagger was the first musical superstar tapped by Anger to compose a soundtrack for his Lucifer Rising project, which at the time was to star Mansonite Bobby Beausoleil. Anger would later solicit a soundtrack for the long-delayed film project from Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, the proud owner of one of the world's largest collections of Aleister Crowley memorabilia, including Crowley's notorious Boleskine estate on the shores of Scotland's Loch Ness. When ultimately released, however, the film featured a soundtrack by neither Jagger nor Page, but rather one that was composed, recorded and arranged inside a prison cell by convicted murderer Bobby Beausoleil. The footage that Anger had shot of Beausoleil, meanwhile, ended up in a different film, the aforementioned Invocation of My Demon Brother. Costarring in Lucifer Rising, as Osiris, was Performance writer and co-director Donald Seaton Cammell, who happened to be a good friend of Roman Polanski.

Cammell, who some described as a master manipulator, was the son of Charles Richard Cammell, who happened to be a close friend and biographer of notorious occultist Aleister Crowley. Donald himself was, or at least claimed to be, Crowley's godson. Cammell's decidedly Crowleyian film was originally to star his good friend Marlon Brando, but the role ultimately went to actor James Fox. Brando and Cammell did, however, find time to write a novel together.

Speaking of Brando, he somehow found himself at the center of a curious string of deaths that began on May 16, 1990, when Marlon's son Christian gunned down Dag Drollet, the father of his sister Cheyenne's unborn child, in Marlon's Laurel Canyon-adjacent home. Though convicted, Christian got off with a rather light sentence, thanks primarily to Marlon having had his own daughter, the prosecution's potential star witness, locked away in a mental institution in Tahiti, safe from subpoena. A few years later, on April 14, 1995, twenty-five-year-old Cheyenne was found swinging from the end of a rope, her death unsurprisingly ruled a suicide. The next year, Christian Brando was released from prison and promptly became involved with a woman by the name of Bonnie Lee Bakley, who caught a bullet to the head on May 4, 2001, while in the company of new hubby Robert Blake (her tenth husband). Marlon dropped dead next, on July 1, 2004, though his death wasn't particularly shocking given that he was getting on in years. His home was promptly purchased by good friend and neighbor Jack Nicholson, who immediately announced plans to bulldoze it, declaring the structure to be decrepit. He never did though explain why a man wealthy enough to own his own Polynesian island was purportedly living in a derelict home. A few years later, on January 26 of 2008, Christian Brando dropped dead at the relatively young age of forty-nine.

Returning now, after that brief digression, to our discussion of Donald Cammell's Performance, we find that Mick Jagger was cast to play the role of 'Turner,' a debauched rock star (which, obviously, was a real stretch for Mick). James Fox played 'Chas,' a violent organized-crime figure. He was trained for the role by David Litvinoff, a real-life crime figure and associate of the notoriously sadistic Kray brothers. Litvinoff reportedly sent Fox to the south of London for a couple of months to hang out with his gangster buddies; when he returned, according to various accounts, Fox had literally become the violent character he portrayed in the film. After completing work on the project, Fox reportedly suffered a massive nervous breakdown, suspended his acting career and withdrew from public view for over a decade.

Recruited to create the film's soundtrack was Bernard Alfred "Jack" Nitzsche, an occultist and the son of a supposed 'medium.' Nitzsche, along with Sonny Bono, had begun his music career as a lieutenant for gun-brandishing producer Phil Spector (Nitzsche was one of the architects of Spector's famed "wall of sound"). Nitzsche was also a familiar presence on the Laurel Canyon scene, collaborating with such noted bands and artists as Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Michelle Phillips, the Turtles, Captain Beefheart, Carole King, David Blue, Ricky Nelson and Tim Buckley.

Nitzsche's Performance soundtrack was composed, according to author Michael Walker, "in a witch's cottage in the canyon." (I'm not exactly sure what a "witch's cottage" is, but it's nice to know that Laurel Canyon had one.) One of the musicians hired by Nitzsche to play on that soundtrack was Lowell George, who we will also be adding to the Laurel Canyon Death List. For now, let's add Donald Cammell to the list, since on April 24, 1996, he became yet another of the characters in this story to catch a bullet to the head, and yet another to allegedly die by his own hand. David Litvinoff, Performance's Director of Authenticity, reportedly also committed suicide. Nitzsche died of a heart attack on August 25, 2000. A few years earlier, he had made an appearance on primetime television-as a gun-brandishing drunkard arrested on the streets of Hollywood on Cops.

The next name on the Death List is Steve Brandt, who was a close friend of both John Phillips and one of the victims at 10050 Cielo Drive. Brandt allegedly overdosed on barbiturates in late November of 1969, some three-and-a-half months after the Manson murders. In the days and weeks following those murders, Brandt had placed numerous phone calls to the LAPD. Those calls became increasingly frantic in nature, and Brandt became increasingly fearful that his own life might be in jeopardy. He soon decided to put some distance between himself and LA, so he headed for New York City. On the night of his death, according to Phillips' autobiography, Brandt attended a Rolling Stones concert at Madison Square Garden, where he attempted to run on stage but was repelled and beaten by a security guard. He then went home and, according to official mythology, overdosed.

It seems obvious that if someone had information that desperately needed to be made public, and if it was the kind of information that authorities had, say, willfully failed to act upon, and if the information was of the type that could not be taken to the mainstream media, and if the year was 1969 and the mass communication technology that we now take for granted did not yet exist, then grabbing the mic at a Stones concert at Madison Square Garden might just be one of the most effective means of disseminating that information. Brandt failed in what may have been an attempt to do just that, and he turned up dead just hours later.

Next up is David Blue, another of the forgotten talents of Laurel Canyon. Blue was born Stuart David Cohen on February 18, 1941; shortly thereafter, his father was deployed overseas. According to David, his dad "came hobbling home on crutches and stayed depressed all his life" (not unlike, it seems fair to say, the family situation of our old friend Phil Ochs). David and his slightly older half-sister, Suzanne, endured a hellish existence consisting of alternating periods of rages and silences. Suzanne got out first, only to end up busted for prostitution in New York City in 1963. Suzanne's next stop, just a few months later, was at the county morgue.

David, meanwhile, had gotten out of the house as well, by dropping out of school and joining the US Navy at the age of seventeen-just as Lenny Bruce had done. And, like Jimi Hendrix, Blue was purportedly booted out of the service, after which he decided to become a folk singer. His first album was released in 1966. A later effort was produced by Graham Nash, who also, as previously noted, produced a record for the forgotten talent Judee Sill, with whom Blue had much in common. Like Sill, David Blue was one of the Laurel Canyon stars who never quite shone as brightly as they should have. And also like Sill, Blue was one of the first few acts signed by David Geffen's fledgling Asylum label. Finally, as with Judee, David was long forgotten by the time of his death, on December 2, 1982, when the forty-one-year-old Blue dropped dead while jogging in New York's Washington Square Park. The former rising star (and occasional actor) lay in the morgue for three days before anyone noticed that he was missing.

Next on the list is Ricky Nelson, who-like Brandon DeWilde, Kenneth Anger, Mickey Dolenz and Van Dyke Parks-began his Hollywood career as a child actor. He was the son, as everyone surely knows, of America's favorite 1950s TV mom and dad, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. Ricky began his rock'n'roll career in 1957, when he was just seventeen. By 1962, he had scored no fewer than thirty top forty hits, trailing only superstars Elvis Presley and Pat Boone.

Speaking of Elvis, he arrived in LA in 1956 to begin what would prove to be a prolific film career that would continue throughout the 1960s and would result in the inexcusable creation of nearly three dozen motion pictures. In the early years of his film career, Elvis reportedly spent his off-hours hanging out with his two best Hollywood pals-a couple of young roommates and Canyonites named Dennis Hopper and Nick Adams. In later years, Presley's backing musicians-considered to be among the best session musicians in the business-were in high demand among the Laurel Canyon crowd. Elvis' bass player, for example, can be heard on some of the Doors' tracks. The entire band was recruited by "Papa" John Phillips to play on his less-than-memorable solo project. Mike Nesmith's critically acclaimed post-Monkees project, the First National Band, featured Presley's band as well. Gram Parsons also hired Elvis' band to back him up on the two solo albums he recorded at what proved to be the twilight of his life and career.

Those two solo efforts by Parsons, by the way, prominently featured the voice of a young singer/guitarist named Emmylou Harris, a relatively late arrival to the canyon scene. Harris was the daughter -- brace yourselves here for a real shocker, folks-of a career US Marine Corps officer. As with so many other characters in this story, she grew up in the outlying suburbs of Washington, DC, primarily in Woodbridge, Virginia-which happens to be the home of an imposingly large Army research and development installation known as the Harry Diamond Laboratories Woodbridge Research Facility.

In 1972, during the time that Parsons and Harris were recording and performing together, columnist Jack Anderson revealed that, "Experiments to control human behavior with science fiction devices are being conducted secretly at the Army's high-fenced Harry Diamond Laboratories in Washington ... Ultimately, human guinea pigs will be used to test the devices. Although a classified memorandum in our hands specifies the tests are for riot and civil disturbance control, the memo admits the general purpose is 'short-time-span control of human behavior.1I1 It sounds as though Emmylou Harris probably fit right in with the rest of the Laurel Canyon crowd.

But here I seem to have digressed from our discussion of Elvis, which was, if I remember correctly, itself a digression from our discussion of Ricky Nelson. Given though that he had only peripheral connections to Laurel Canyon, I guess I don't really have much more to say about Elvis other than that he reportedly died on August 16, 1977, the victim of a drug overdose at the young age of forty-two. As with Morrison, however, there have been persistent rumors that Elvis didn't actually die at all, but rather reinvented himself to escape from the fishbowl. Also as with Morrison, Elvis apparently had a keen interest in the occult, particularly the writings of Madame Blavatsky.

As for Nelson, in the mid-1960s he successfully shed his 'teen idol' image and emerged as a respected pioneer of the country-rock wave that Canyonites Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles would soon ride to dizzying heights of commercial success. One future member of the Eagles, Randy Meisner, played in Nelson's Stone Canyon Band. As the name of the band would seem to imply, Nelson had moved to one of the many neighboring canyons, but he had previously lived on Mt. Olympus in Laurel Canyon and he and his band were very much a part of the early country-rock scene that included bands like the Byrds, Poco, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the First National Band.

Nelson was killed on New Year's Eve, 1985, in a rather unusual plane crash. According to Nelson's Wikipedia entry, "the original NTSB investigation long ago stated that the crash was probably due to mechanical problems. The pilots attempted to land in a field after smoke filled the cabin. An examination indicated that a fire originated in the right hand side of the aft cabin area at or near the floor line. The passengers were killed when the aircraft struck obstacles during the forced landing; the pilots were able to escape through the cockpit windows and survived." Nothing unusual about that, I suppose. Shit happens.

For the final eight years of his life, Nelson lived in a rather unique home. In 1941, swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn had purchased an eleven-and-a-half-acre chunk of the Hollywood Hills just off Mulholland Drive and had a sprawling home built to his specifications. According to Laurie Jacobson and Marc Wanamaker, writing in Haunted Hollywood, the mansion featured "several mysterious secret passageways, and more than a few peepholes." The home appeared to have been designed to allow for surreptitious observation of guests in the home's numerous bedrooms. It is claimed that Flynn incorporated the unusual design features so that he could satisfy his own voyeuristic impulses. Researcher/writer Charles Higham, however, has cast Flynn as a Western intelligence asset, and if true, then it is far more likely that the home was built not so much for Flynn's personal pleasure but rather as a means of compromising prominent public figures.

After Nelson's death, the palatial home stood vacant until a curious incident took place; referring once again to Jacobson and Wanamaker, we find that "A gang broke in and murdered a girl in the living room. Then a mysterious fire burned half the house. The ruins were torn down." Like I said, shit happens.

Moving on to the next name on the list, we find that on December 31, 1943-precisely forty-two years before the plane crash that would claim the life of Ricky Nelson-Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., better known as John Denver, was born in Roswell, New Mexico. A few years later, the town of Roswell would make a name for itself and become something of a tourist destination. But that is not really the focus here, though it should be noted that Henry John Deutschendorf, Sr. might well have known a little something about that incident, given that he was a career USAir Force officer assigned to the Roswell Army Air Field (later renamed the Walker Air Force Base), which was likely the origin of the object that famously crashed in Roswell.

After spending his childhood being frequently uprooted, as did many of our cast of characters, Denver attended Texas Tech University in the early 1960s. In 1964, he apparently heard the call of the Pied Piper and promptly dropped out of school and headed for LA. Once there, he joined up with the Chad Mitchell Trio, the group from which Jim McGuinn had recently departed to co-found the Byrds. By November 1966, Denver was front-and-center at the so-called 'Riot on the Sunset Strip,' alongside folks like Peter Fonda, Sal Mineo and a popular husband- and-wife duo known as Sonny and Cher.

A decade later, in the latter half of the 1970s, Denver could be found working alongside a spooky chap by the name of Werner Erhard, creator of so-called 'EST' training. After graduating from the training program, Denver penned a little ditty that became the organization's theme song. In 1985, Denver testified alongside our old friend Frank Zappa at the PMRC hearings. Twelve years later, in autumn of 1997, Denver died when his self-piloted plane crashed soon after taking off from Monterey Airport, very near where the Monterey Pop Festival had been held thirty years earlier. The date of the crash, curiously enough, was one that we have stumbled across before: October 12.

The next name we need to add to the list is one that has already worked its way into this narrative a time or two, Sonny Bono. As previously noted, Bono began his Hollywood career as a lieutenant for reclusive murderer Phil Spector. In the early 1960s, Bono hooked up with an underage Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre to form a duo known first as Caesar and Cleo, and then as Sonny and Cher. The pair were phenomenally successful, first on the Sunset Strip and later on television. Bono, of course, ultimately gave up the Hollywood life and found work in a different branch of the federal government: the US House of Representatives.

On January 5, 1998, Sonny Bono died after purportedly skiing into a tree. At the time, he occupied a seat on the House Judiciary Committee, which was about to come to sudden prominence with the investigation and impeachment of President Clinton. The ball was already rolling by the time of Bono's death, and on January 26, 1998, just three weeks after the alleged skiing incident, Clinton held his now-notorious press conference. By that time, Bono's seat on the panel had been set aside for his robowife.

Let's turn our attention now to Phil Hartman, the Saturday Night Live alumnus who was murdered in his Encino home on May 28, 1998. That much is not in dispute. Decidedly less clear is the answer to the question of who it was that actually shot and killed Hartman. The official story holds that it was his wife Brynn, who shortly thereafter shot herself- with a different gun, naturally, and reportedly after she had left the house and then returned with a friend, and after the LAPD had arrived at the home. There is a very strong possibility, however, that both Phil and his wife were murdered, with the true motive for the crime covered up by trotting out the tired but ever-popular murder/suicide scenario.

In most people's minds, of course, Phil Hartman is not associated with the Laurel Canyon scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But as it turns out, Hartman did indeed have substantial ties to that scene. To begin with, during the time that Jimi Hendrix lived in LA (in the spacious mansion just north of the Log Cabin on Laurel Canyon Boulevard), Hartman worked for him as a roadie. Soon after that, Phil found work as a graphic artist and he quickly found himself much in demand by the Laurel Canyon rock royalty. In addition to designing album covers for both Poco and America, Hartman also designed a readily recognizable rock symbol that has endured for over forty years: the distinctive CSN logo for Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Hartman was also the brother of record executive/club proprietor John Hartmann, who was an associate of David Geffen. Hartmann had begun his career as a protege of Elvis handler Colonel Tom Parker, who, in the 1940s, had worked with cowboy actor/Log Cabin owner Tom Mix. And Tom Mix, in turn, had frequently used the Spahn Movie Ranch as a filming location. That same ranch later became the home of Charles Manson and his girls, including Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who happened to have been a high school chum of Phil Hartman. Curiously enough, the Log Cabin's guesthouse, also known as the Bird House, was designed and built by architect Robert Byrd, who also, according to one report, designed the house at 10050 Cielo Drive where Sharon Tate and friends were murdered, and the house at 5065 Encino Avenue where Phil Hartman was murdered.

Phil Hartman was not the only Laurel Canyon luminary who had past school ties to Squeaky Fromme; Mark Volman, co-lead vocalist for the Turtles, knew Ms. Fromme from their days together in Westchester where they attended Orville Wright Junior High School.

During the days of the Manson clan's stay at the now infamous Spahn Ranch, there was a similarly dilapidated movie set that was located right across the road. Its name, being the small world that it is, was the Wonderland Movie Ranch. Speaking of Wonderland, let's turn our attention next to four individuals whose names will probably not be familiar to most readers: Ronald Launius, Billy Deverell, Barbara Richardson and Joy Miller. All died on July 1, 1981, all by bludgeoning, and all at the same location: 8763 Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon. All were members of a gang that trafficked heavily in cocaine and occasionally in heroin.

The leader of the group was Ron Launius, who reportedly embarked on his criminal career, and established his drug connections, while serving for Uncle Sam over in Vietnam, which is also where he began to build his carefully crafted reputation as a merciless, cold-blooded killer. At the time that he became a murder victim himself, Launius was a suspect in no fewer than twenty-seven open homicide investigations. He was also a drug supplier to various members of the Laurel Canyon aristocracy, including Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night.

Victim Billy Deverell was Launius' second-in-command, and victim Joy Miller was Billy's girlfriend as well as the renter of the Laurel Canyon drug den. Victim Barbara Richardson was the girlfriend of another member of the gang, David Lind, who conveniently was not at the home at the time of the mass murder. That could well have been due to the fact that Lind was, according to various rival drug dealers, a police informant for both the Sacramento and Los Angeles Police Departments. He was also a member of the ultra-violent prison gang known as the Aryan Brotherhood (as is, by several accounts, Bobby Beausoleil). Lind, who met Launius when the two had served time together, is alleged to have overdosed in 1995, though it is widely believed that he actually went into the federal witness protection program.

A year-and-a-half earlier, another drug dealer with close connections to the music scene was brutally murdered in his Laurel Canyon home, though his death was dismissed by the LAPD as a suicide. Lawrence Eugene "Larry" Williams was a singer, songwriter, musician, producer and actor born on May 10, 1935, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He achieved some success in the late 1950s as a solo artist before being convicted and sent to prison on drug dealing charges in 1960. Following a three-year prison stint, he returned to the music business, working frequently with longtime friend Little Richard. He also continued to spend a good deal of time in the violent world of drug trafficking and prostitution.

Williams had no shortage of fans among the Laurel Canyon and British Invasion bands. The Beatles scored a hit with his Dizzy Miss Lizzy and the Rolling Stones covered his She Said Yeah. In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Williams also tried his hand at acting, including a costarring role alongside O.J. Simpson in 1974's The Klansman. He failed to achieve significant success in the entertainment business; his lavish lifestyle, however, indicated that he did very well for himself as a pimp and drug trafficker.

On January 7, 1980, Williams was found dead in his Laurel Canyon home with a gunshot wound to his head and his blood splattered all over his garage walls. Though ruled a suicide, no one who was familiar with Larry's violent lifestyle was much convinced of that. In a bizarre turn of events, another blues singer named Martin Allbritton appropriated his name before Williams' body was even cold. He continues to this day to claim that he is the real Larry Williams and even tours and performs under the name "Big" Larry Williams.

The next name on the list is Brian Cole, bass player for the Association, a Laurel Canyon folk-rock band known for the hit songs Along Comes Mary and Never My Love. The Association was formed by Terry Kirkman and Jules Alexander; Kirkman had formerly played in a band with Frank Zappa, while Alexander was fresh from a stint in the US Navy. Jerry Vester, a guitarist and keyboardist with the band, was formerly with the Modern Folk Quartet, a band managed by Zappa manager Herb Cohen and produced by Byrds manager Jim Dickson. Guitarist Larry Ramos had formerly been with the New Christy Minstrels, which also produced Gene Clark of the Byrds.

On June 16, 1967, Cole and his band were the first to take the stage at the Monterey Pop Festival, followed by such Laurel Canyon stalwarts as the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and the Mamas and the Papas. Five years later, on August 2, 1972, Cole was found dead in his Los Angeles home. The cause of death was reportedly a heroin overdose. Cole was one month shy of his thirtieth birthday at the time of his death.

Another new name on the Laurel Canyon Death List is Lowell George, the founder and creative force behind the critically acclaimed but largely obscure band known as Little Feat. George was the son of Willard H. George, a famous furrier to the Hollywood movie studios. Lowell's first foray into the music world was with a band known as the Factory, which cut some demos with a guy by the name of Frank Zappa. The Factory evolved into the Fraternity of Man, though without George, who had left to serve as lead vocalist for the Standells. George returned, however, to join the band in the studio for the recording of their second album. By that time, as we have already learned, the Fraternity of Man had taken up residence in the Log Cabin, alongside Carl Franzoni and his fellow freaks.

George next joined up with Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, though his tenure there was destined to be a short one; like so many others, Lowell left embittered by Zappa's dictatorial approach to making music and his condescending treatment of his bandmates. After parting company with Zappa, George formed Little Feat, a band composed mostly of musicians from the Fraternity of Man sessions. Lowell, who is credited with being a pioneer of the use of slide guitar in rock music, served as singer, songwriter and lead guitarist for the band, which released its debut album in 1970. Though well regarded within the industry and by critics, the band's albums failed to sell and George ultimately announced the demise of the band and recorded a solo album. After playing a show on June 29, 1979, at George Washington University in support of that album, George was found dead in an Arlington, Virginia, hotel room, very near the Pentagon. Cause of death was said to be a massive heart attack, though George was just thirty-four years old at the time.

According to Barney Hoskyns, writing in Hotel California, "A regular social stop-off for George was a Laurel Canyon house on Wonderland Avenue belonging to Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton. A drop-in den of debauchery, the Hutton house featured a bedroom with black walls and a giant fireplace. Lowell would often swing by and entertain the likes of Brian Wilson or Harry Nilsson." Nilsson and his regular drinking buddy, John Lennon, were frequent guests at this "den of debauchery."

Former Beatle John Lennon is, to be sure, one of the most famous names to be found on the Laurel Canyon Death List. Lennon also has the distinction of being one of the few Laurel Canyon alumni whose cause of death is acknowledged to have been homicide. The ex-Beatie, of course, never lived in the canyon, but he was a fixture on the Sunset Strip and at various Laurel Canyon hangouts, frequently in the company of Harry Nilsson.

Lennon was, as is fairly well known, murdered on December 8,1980, in front of New York's Dakota Apartments, which had been portrayed by filmmaker Roman Polanski in his film Rosemary's Baby as a den of Satanic cult activity. Not long before Lennon's murder, assassin Mark David Chapman had approached occult filmmaker Kenneth Anger and offered him a gift of live bullets. Just days after Lennon was felled, Anger's long-delayed final cut of Lucifer Rising made its New York debut, very near the bloodstained grounds of the Dakota Apartments.

Precisely three weeks after Lennon's death, Tim Hardin -- Canyonite, folk musician, close associate of Frank Zappa, onetime tenant in Lenny Bruce's Laurel Canyon-adjacent home, and former United States Marine- died of a reported heroin and morphine overdose in Los Angeles. At the time of his death, on December 29, 1980, Hardin was just thirty-nine years old, one year younger than Lennon.

Eight years later, on July 18, 1988, singer/songwriter/keyboardist Christa Paffgen, better known as Nico, died of a reported cerebral hemorrhage in Ibiza, Spain, under unusual circumstances. After achieving some level of fame as a vocalist with the Velvet Underground, Nico had left the Warhol stable and migrated west to Laurel Canyon, where she formed a bond with a then-unknown singer-songwriter named Jackson Browne, who contributed a few songs to Nico's 1967 debut album, Chelsea Girl. The title was derived from New York's Chelsea Hotel, where Devon Wilson took a dive and where the persona of John Train murdered the persona of Phil Ochs.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:52 am

11. DETOURS RUSTIC CANYON & GREYSTONE PARK

"By the time Manson shifted base from Rustic Canyon to an old ranch in Chatsworth, he'd begun formulating the notion that he and his followers had to prepare themselves for a race war with Black America."

-- Barney Hoskyns, writing in Hotel California


WE MUST NOW TEMPORARILY RELOCATE TO RUSTIC CANYON, WHICH LIES about nine miles west of Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. It was there, in Lower Rustic Canyon, that Beach Boy Dennis Wilson lived in the late 1960s in what Steven Gaines described in Heroes and Villains as "a palatial log-cabin-style house at 14400 Sunset Boulevard that had once belonged to humorist Will Rogers." The expansive home sat on three lushly landscaped acres.

In the summer of 1968, as is fairly well known, Charlie Manson and various members of his entourage moved in with Wilson. Considerably less well known is that Charles "Tex" Watson, for reasons that have never really been explained, was already living there. As many as two-dozen members of Manson's clan spent the entire summer there, with Wilson picking up the tab for all expenses. The Mansonites, mostly nubile young women, regularly drove Wilson's expensive cars and demolished at least one of them. Dennis didn't seem to mind; he was busy recording Manson in brother Brian's home studio and inviting fellow musicians, like Neil Young, over to the house to hear Charlie perform. (Young was so impressed that he urged Mo Ostin to sign him.)

Dennis would later claim that he had destroyed all the Manson demo tapes, that he remembered almost nothing of his time with Charlie and the Family, and that he certainly knew nothing about the Tate and LaBianca murders, which were committed in the summer of 1969, about a year after the Family had vacated the Rustic Canyon residence. At some point in time though, Wilson had a change of heart and decided that maybe he did indeed know a little something about the murders. "I know why Charles Manson did what he did," said Dennis. "Someday, I'll tell the world. I'll write a book and explain why he did it." That book, however, was never written and Wilson's story, if indeed he had one, was never told. Instead, Dennis Wilson drowned under questionable circumstances on December 28, 1983, in the marina where his beloved yacht had previously been docked.

But this story isn't really about Dennis Wilson; it's about Charlie Manson and his alleged motive for allegedly ordering the Tate and La- Bianca murders. According to the 'Helter Skelter' scenario popularized by lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, who later penned a wildly disinformational book on the JFK assassination, Manson was hoping to spark an apocalyptic race war. It is said that Charlie believed that America's black population would prevail over whitey, but that, having won the war, the victors would be incapable of governing themselves. And that, alas, is when Charlie and his retinue would emerge from the shadows to take command.

According to Barney Hoskyns, Manson began formulating his race war theory during his stay in Rustic Canyon. If true, then Charlie appears to have been following in the footsteps of a long-forgotten former Rustic Canyon guru-one who preceded him by a few decades, and who, like Manson, had a certain fondness for swastikas.

Just to the north of Dennis Wilson's former home is a vast wilderness of undeveloped canyon lands. Lower Rustic Canyon soon gives way to Upper Rustic Canyon, and all signs of human civilization abruptly vanish. The land remains wild and undeveloped save for an old, unpaved fire road that winds along the summit between Rustic Canyon and a neighboring canyon. That road is closed to the public and vehicle traffic is nonexistent. Aside from an occasional hiker wandering in from nearby Will Rogers State Park, there is nary a human to be seen.

The farther in one hikes, the more wild and untamed it becomes. Along with the sights of the city, the sounds and the scents quickly disappear as well. Within a very short time, it is surprisingly easy to forget that one is still within the confines of the city of Los Angeles. And in its fall splendor, the canyon looks nothing like the Los Angeles that most Angelenos know and don't quite love. It is beautiful. .. serene ... pastoral. And yet, filled with mist and heavily overgrown, it is also vaguely ominous.

If one knows where to look, there is a narrow concrete stairway that is accessible from the fire road. That stairway descends down to the floor of the canyon, and it is a very, very long descent. Five hundred and twelve steps long, to be exact. As one makes the descent, this stairway, which seems to go on forever, seems wildly out of place. With time to kill on the way down, one may find oneself pondering how many man-hours it took to set forms for 512 poured concrete steps, and how truckloads of concrete were poured out here in the middle of nowhere.

Reaching the canyon floor, one finds that, though the native flora has struggled mightily to reclaim the land, remnants of a past civilization can be seen everywhere. Some structures remain largely intact-a nearly 400,000 gallon, spring-fed reservoir serving a sophisticated potable water system; a concrete-walled structure that once housed twin electrical generators capable of lighting a small town; more concrete stairways, hundreds of steps long, each snaking its way up the canyon walls; weathered livestock stables; professionally graded and paved roads; countless stone retaining walls; an incinerator; concrete foundations and skeletal remains of former dwellings; the rusting carcass of a Mansonesque VW bus; and, at the former entrance, an imposing set of electronically controlled, wrought iron security gates.

It is the kind of place that seems tailor-made for Charlie and his Family- remote and secluded, yet accessible by the Family's custom-built dune buggies; with just enough crumbling infrastructure to provide rudimentary shelter for the clan; and with elaborate security provisions, including sentry positions and a formerly electrified fence completely encircling the fifty-acre compound (as well as, by some reports, an underground tunnel complex). And it was located just a short hike up the canyon from the place that Charlie Manson called home in the summer of 1968.

While exploring this place, obvious questions begin to come to mind: Who developed this remote portion of the canyon, in what feels like the middle of nowhere? The goal appears to have been to create a hidden and completely self-sustaining community, and an extraordinary amount of money was invested in infrastructure development... but why?

Very few Angelenos know of the curious ruins in Rustic Canyon, and fewer still know the history of those ruins. Every now and then though, a local reporter will pay a visit and the story will make a one-time appearance in a local publication, briefly casting some light on a bit of the hidden history of Los Angeles. In May 1992, Marc Norman of the Los Angeles Business Journal was one such reporter. According to Norman, "County records show 'Jessie Murphy, a widow,' purchasing fifty-plus acres north of [Will] Rogers' property in 1933, but the owners were actually named Stephens-Norman, an engineer with silver-mining interests, and Winona, the daughter of an industrialist and a woman given to things supernatural. Local lore has it that Winona fell under the spell of a certain unnamed gentleman."

This trio, along with unnamed others, began "a ten-year construction program costing $4 million ... starting with a water tank holding 375,000 gallons and a concrete diesel-powered generator station with foot-thick walls-both of which are still visible. The hillsides were terraced for orchards, an electrified fence circled the boundaries and a huge refrigerated locker was built into a hillside ... The one thing Murphy/ Stephens couldn't seem to get right was their main house. The first architect hired was Welton Becket, but there are also sketches by Lloyd Wright, and in 1941, Paul Williams drafted blueprints for a sprawling mansion with twenty-two bedrooms, a children's dining room, a gymnasium, pool and a workshop in the basement,"

Thirteen years later, in September 2005, Cecelia Rasmussen of the Los Angeles Times added a few details to the story: "Southern California has been the cradle to many odd cults, credos, utopias and dystopias. Among the most mysterious are the ruins of a Rustic Canyon enclave once known as Murphy Ranch ... on [Rustic Canyon's] secluded and woodsy floor stand the eerily burned-out and graffiti-scarred remains of concrete and steel structures, underground tunnels and stairways leading from the top of the canyon to the bottom ... Behind the locked and rusted wrought iron entrance gates and flagstone wall stand the traces of a small community that had the capacity to grow its own food, generate its own electricity and dam its own water. .. The hillsides were terraced with 3,000 nut, citrus, fruit and olive trees, and fitted with water pipes, sprinklers and an elaborate greenhouse. A high barbed-wire fence discouraged intruders ... research indicates that it could have been home to up to forty local Nazis from about 1933 to 1945 ... armed guards patrolled the canyon dressed in the uniform worn by Silver Shirts, a paramilitary group modeled after Hitler's brownshirts ... A man known through oral histories only as 'Herr Schmidt' supposedly ruled the place and claimed to possess metaphysical powers."

Herr Schmidt, needless to say, was the gentleman whose spell Winona Stephens fell under. According to Marc Norman, Schmidt "convinced her that the coming world war would be won by Germany, that the United States would collapse into years of violent anarchy and that the chosen few (read: the Stephenses, the certain gentleman and other true believers) would need a tight spot in which to hole up, self-sufficient, until the fire storm had passed. Then they could emerge not only intact but, thanks to the superiority of their politics, rulers of the anthill and, not incidentally, the origin of its new population."

Sound familiar?

Murphy Ranch also reportedly featured a 20,000 gallon diesel fuel tank, livestock stables, and dairy and butchering facilities. Along both sides of the compound "rise eight crumbling, narrow stairways of at least 500 steps each," as the LA Times noted. Those stairways apparently led to sentry positions high on the canyon walls (for the record, they are not actually crumbling, though most are overgrown with impenetrable vegetation). During Murphy Ranch's years of operation, nearby residents reportedly complained of late-night military exercises and the sounds of live gunfire echoing through the canyons.

To summarize then, it appears that the city of Los Angeles was home to a very secret, militarized Nazi compound that was in operation both before and during WWII. Remnants of that blacked-out chapter of LA history can be seen to this day, though few make the trek. The purpose of the decaying compound was to ride out an anarchic, apocalyptic war, so that the chosen few could emerge as the rulers of the new world. It was all so very Mansonesque, and, ironically enough, Manson and his crew spent an entire summer camped out at a home that was within a two-mile hike of this curious place.

In the late 1940s, after the close of the war, Murphy Ranch was reportedly converted into an artists' colony. Architect Welton Becket, who designed several of the structures at the ranch, would go on to design two of LA's landmark structures: the Capitol Records building and the Music Center. In 1973, the property once known as Murphy Ranch was purchased by the city of Los Angeles. As far as is known, the city has no plans to reopen the facility.

"Van Cortlandt and Untermyer functioned as outdoor meeting sites for the cult."

-- Maury Terry, writing in The Ultimate Evil, in reference to the cult behind the .Son of Sam' murders


NESTLED IN BETWEEN THE MOUTHS OF LAUREL AND COLDWATER Canyons lies a large estate known as Greystone Park, home of the long-vacant Greystone Mansion. The home, and the grounds it sits on, is said to be, to this day, the most expensive private residence ever built in the city of Los Angeles. Constructed in the 1920s, the home and grounds carried the then-unfathomable price tag of $4 million. (By way of comparison, the Lookout Inn, built a decade-and-a-half earlier, was projected to cost from $86,000-$100,000; in other words, the single-family. residence cost at least forty times what the lavish seventy-room inn cost-and the inn required bringing infrastructure and building materials to a remote mountaintop.)

The massive, 46,000 square-foot edifice sits amid twenty-two lavishly landscaped acres of prime Hollywood Hills real estate. This rather ostentatious home was built by uberwealthy oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny as a wedding present for his son, Edward "Ned" Doheny, Jr. If that plotline sounds vaguely familiar, it is probably because Edward Doheny was the inspiration for Upton Sinclair's Oil, and thus for the homicidal Daniel Plainview character in There Will Be Blood (some of the interior shots near the end of that film, of expansive, marble-floored rooms, appear to have been shot in the real Greystone).

Upon the home's completion, in September 1928, young Ned Doheny and his new bride moved into the humble abode. Within months, the home would be bloodstained; soon after, it would be permanently abandoned.

Poor Ned, you see, was found dead in the cavernous home on February 16, 1929. Near him lay the lifeless body of his assistant/personal secretary, Hugh Plunkett. Both men had been shot. Despite an inordinately long delay in reporting the deaths, and an admission that the bodies had been moved prior to the arrival of police, who were called only after the family doctor and numerous relatives, all of whom arrived at the home before the LAPD, no formal inquest was ever conducted and the case was written off in less than forty-eight hours as a murder/ suicide arising from a gay lovers' quarrel. Despite an unlikely lack of fingerprints on the gun, Plunkett was said to be the triggerman and the media quickly went into a frenzy playing up the scandalous homosexuality angle and portraying young Plunkett as positively demented.

It is anyone's guess whether or not the two really were gay lovers, but it matters little; the rest of the story was almost certainly a work of fiction. In reality, both men were likely murdered as part of the massive cover-up/damage-control operation that followed the disclosure of the Harding-era Teapot Dome scandal, which the Doheny family, as it turns out, was very deeply immersed in. Both Ned Doheny and Plunkett had been scheduled to testify before a Senate investigating committee, as was Doheny's father, one of the wealthiest men in the world at the time. Due to manufactured public sympathy for the grieving father, however, the congressional investigation was shelved.

News reports of the tragedy contained no mention of the victims' deep involvement in the scandal and the tired murder/suicide scenario was trotted out because, as is seen so often in more modern times, if the alleged perpetrator is already dead, it pretty much eliminates the need for things like an investigation and trial.

Some forty years after those gunshots rang out in the opulent Greystone Mansion, a new Ned Doheny, scion of the very same Doheny oil clan, joined the ranks of the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters club. Like fellow Canyonites Terry Melcher and Gram Parsons, Doheny was viewed by many as a pampered 'trust-fund kid.' His closest circle of friends included country-rockers Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther and Glen Frey. In addition to recording his own solo albums (his self-titled debut was released in 1973), Doheny contributed to albums by such Laurel Canyon superstars as Frey, Browne, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt and Graham Nash.

Strangely enough, New York City once had a large estate known as Greystone as well. That Greystone was donated to the city as parkland, and it thereafter became known as Untermyer Park-the same Untermyer Park identified by Maury Terry as one of the two principal ritual sites used by the Process faction behind the 'Son of Sam' murders. The other site used by the cult was Van Cortlandt Park, named for Jacobus Van Cortlandt, a former Mayor of New York and one of David Van Cortlandt Crosby's forefathers. Another of Crosby's forefathers lent his name to Schuyler Road, which happens to run along the western boundary of the Greystone estate in the Hollywood Hills.

I have no idea what, if anything, any of that means, but I thought it best that I toss it into the mix.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:53 am

12. RIDERS ON THE STORM THE DOORS

"By that, I mean, 'Get me a lead singer. He's got sort of an androgynous blonde hair, very pretty. We need a guitar player, sort of hatchet-faced, wears a hat, plays very fast, very dramatic. He must be very dramatic. Get me a pound of bass player, pound of drummer' ... they're making little cardboard cutouts. They hire a producer, they hire writers ... And in the current stuff now, they don't even bother getting people to play. Don't bother with that guitar player, bass player, drummer-nonsense ... The people in those bands can't write, play, or sing."

-- David Crosby, describing the synthetic, manufactured nature of today's rock bands


AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THIS JOURNEY, IT WAS NOTED THAT JIM Morrison's story was not "in any way unique." That, however, is not exactly true. It is certainly true that Morrison's family background did not differ significantly from that of his musical peers, but in many other significant ways, Jim Morrison was indeed a most unique individual, and quite possibly the unlikeliest rock star to ever stumble across a stage.

Morrison essentially arrived on the scene as a fully developed rock star, complete with a backing band, a stage persona and an impressive collection of songs-enough, in fact, to fill the Doors' first few albums. How exactly he reinvented himself in such a radical manner remains something of a mystery, since before his sudden incarnation as singer/ songwriter, James Douglas Morrison had never shown the slightest interest in music. None whatsoever. He certainly never studied music and could neither read nor write it. By his own account, he never had much of an interest in even listening to music. He told one interviewer that he "never went to concerts-one or two at most." And before joining the Doors, he "never did any singing. I never even conceived of it." Asked near the end of his life if he had ever had any desire to learn to playa musical instrument, Jim responded, "Not really."

So here we had a guy who had never sang, who had "never even conceived" of the notion that he could open his mouth and make sounds come out, who couldn't play an instrument and had no interest in learning such a skill, and who had never much listened to music or been anywhere near a band, even just to watch one perform, and yet he somehow emerged, virtually overnight, as a fully formed rock star who would quickly become an icon of his generation. Even more bizarrely, legend holds that he brought with him enough original songs to fill the first few Doors' albums. Morrison did not, you see, do as other singer/songwriters do and pen the songs over the course of the band's career; instead, he allegedly wrote them all at once, before the band was even formed. As Jim once acknowledged in an interview, he was "not a very prolific songwriter. Most of the songs I've written I wrote in the very beginning, about three years ago. I just had a period when I wrote a lot of songs."

In fact, all of the good songs that Morrison is credited with writing were written during that period-the period during which, according to rock legend, Jim spent most of his time hanging out on the rooftop of a Venice apartment building consuming copious amounts of LSD. This was just before he hooked up with fellow student Ray Manzarek to form the Doors. Legend also holds, strangely enough, that that chance meeting occurred on the beach, though it seems far more likely that the pair would have actually met at UCLA, where both attended the university's rather small and close-knit film school.

In any event, the question that naturally arises (though it does not appear to have ever been asked of him) is: How exactly did Jim "The Lizard King" Morrison write that impressive batch of songs? I'm certainly no musician myself, but it is my understanding that just about every singer/songwriter across the land composes his or her songs in essentially the same manner: on an instrument-usually either a piano or a guitar. Some songwriters, I hear, can compose on paper, but that requires a skill set that Jim did not possess. The problem, of course, is that he also could not playa musical instrument of any kind. How then did he write the songs?

He would have had to have composed them, I'm guessing, in his head. So we are to believe then that a few dozen complete songs, never heard by anyone and never played by any musician, existed only in Jim Morrison's acid-addled brain. Anything is possible, I suppose, but even if we accept that premise, we are still left with some nagging questions, including the question of how those songs got out of Jim Morrison's head. As a general rule of thumb, if a songwriter doesn't know how to read and write music, he can play the song for someone who does and thereby create the sheet music (which was the case, for example, with all of the songs that Brian Wilson penned for the Beach Boys). But Jim quite obviously could not play his own songs. So did he, I don't know, maybe hum them?

And these are, it should be clarified, songs that we are talking about here, as opposed to just lyrics, which would more accurately be categorized as poems. Because Jim, as is fairly well known, was quite a prolific poet, whereas he was a songwriter only for one brief period of his life. But why was that? Why did Morrison, with no previous interest in music, suddenly and inexplicably become a prolific songwriter, only to just as suddenly lose interest after mentally penning an impressive catalog of what would be regarded as rock staples? And how and why did Jim achieve the accompanying physical transformation that changed him from a clean-cut, collegiate, and rather conservative-looking young man into the brooding sex symbol who would take the country by storm? And why, after a few years of adopting that persona, did Jim transform once again, in the last year or so of his life, into an overweight, heavily bearded, reclusive poet who seemed to have lost his interest in music just as suddenly and inexplicably as he had obtained it?

It wasn't just Morrison who was, in retrospect, a bit of an oddity; the entire band differed from other Laurel Canyon bands in a number of significant ways. As Vanity Fair once noted, "The Doors were always different." All four members of the group, for example, lacked previous band experience. Morrison and Manzarek, as noted, were film students, and drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Kreiger were recruited by Manzarek from his Transcendental Meditation class-which is, I guess, where one goes to find musicians to fill out one's band. That class, however, apparently lacked a bass player, so they did without-except for those times when they used session musicians and then claimed that they did without.

Anyway, the point is that none of the four members of the Doors had any real band credentials. Even a band as contrived as the Byrds, as we shall soon see, had members with band credentials. So too did Buffalo Springfield, with Neil Young and Bruce Palmer, for example, having played in the Mynah Birds, backing a young vocalist who would reinvent himself as Rick "Superfreak" James (Goldy McJohn of Steppenwolf, oddly enough, was a Mynah Bird as well). The Mamas and the Papas were put together from elements of the Journeymen and the Mugwumps. And so on with the rest of the Laurel Canyon bands.

The Doors could cite no such band lineage. They were just four guys who happened to come together to play the songs written by the singer who had never sung but who had a sudden calling and a magical gift for songwriting. And as you would expect with four guys who had never actually played in a band before, they didn't really play very well. And that is kind of an understatement. Don't take my word for it though; let's let the band's producer, Paul Rothchild, weigh in: "The Doors were not great live performers musically. They were exciting theatrically and kinetically, but as musicians they didn't make it; there was too much inconsistency, there was too much bad music. Robby would be horrendously out of tune with Ray, John would be missing cues, there was bad mic usage too, where you couldn't hear Jim at all."

As fate would have it, I have heard some audio of a young and quite inebriated Jim Morrison at the microphone, and I would have to say that not being able to "hear Jim at all" might have, in many cases, actually improved the performance. But performing poorly as a live band, of course, did not really set the Doors apart from its contemporaries. Another thing that was unusual about the band, however, is that, from the moment the band was conceived, the lineup never changed. No one was added, no one was replaced, no one dropped out of the band over 'artistic differences,' or to pursue a solo career, or to join another band, or for any of the other reasons that bands routinely change shape.

It would be difficult to identify another Laurel Canyon band of any longevity that could make the same claim. After their first two albums, the Byrds changed lineups with virtually every album release. Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention were in a near-constant state of flux. Love and Steppenwolf changed lineups on a regular basis, with leaders John Kay and Arthur Lee routinely firing band members. Laurel Canyon's country-rock bands were also constantly changing shape, usually by incestuously swapping members amongst themselves.

But not the Doors. Jim Morrison's band arrived on the scene as a fully formed entity, with a name (taken from Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception), a stable lineup, a backlog of soon-to-be hit songs ... and no previous experience writing, arranging, playing or performing music. Other than that though, they were just your run-of-the-mill, organic, grass roots, 1960s rock'n'roll band, albeit one with a curious aversion to political advocacy. Jim Morrison was, by virtually all accounts, a voracious reader. Former teachers and college professors expressed amazement at the breadth and depth of his knowledge on various topics, and at the staggering array of literary sources that he could accurately cite. And yet he was known to tell interviewers that he "[had]n't studied politics that much, really." But that was okay, according to drummer John Densmore, since "a lot of people at our concerts at least, they're sort of-it seems like they don't really come to hear us speak politics."

That's the way it was in the 1960s, you see; the young folks of that era just didn't concern themselves much with politics, and certainly didn't want their anti-war icons engaging in anything resembling political discourse.

During the Doors' glory days on the Sunset Strip, Morrison "struck up an intimate friendship" with Whisky-a-Go-Go owner Elmer Valentine, according to a Vanity Fair article published in September 2006. At the time, Valentine was also, coincidentally of course, very close to his own secretary/booking agent, Gail Sloatman, whom Jim had known since kindergarten through Naval officers' circles. Valentine was also -- by pretty much all accounts, including his own-a 'made man.'

Valentine arrived in LA by way of Chicago, where he had worked as a vice cop-a decidedly corrupt vice cop. By his own account, he worked as a police captain's bagman, "collecting the filthy lucre on behalf of the captain." He also boasted that, even while working as a vice cop, his night job was "running nightclubs for the outfit-for gangsters." One "very close friend" from his days in Chicago was "Felix Alderisio, also known as Milwaukee Phil, who was arguably the most feared hit man in the country in the 1950s and sixties, carrying out at least fourteen murders for Sam Giancana and other Chicago bosses."

Valentine was ultimately indicted for extortion, though he naturally managed to avoid prosecution and conviction. Venturing out to LA circa 1960, he soon found himself running PJ's nightclub at the corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Boulevards (which, as you may recall, was co-owned by Eddie Nash and was the favored hangout of early rocker/murder victim Bobby Fuller). It wasn't long though before Valentine had his very own club to run-the legendary Whisky-a-Go- Go, where numerous Laurel Canyon bands, including the Doors in the summer of 1966, served their residency.

Valentine obviously had considerable financial backing to launch his business empire and it wasn't much of a secret on the Strip where that backing came from. Frank Zappa once cryptically referred to Valentine's backers as an "ethnic organization," while Chris Hillman of the Byrds simply noted that, "whoever financed Elmer, I don't want to know."

Valentine received far more than just financial backing to launch the Whisky; he got a generous assist from the media as well. As Vanity Fair noted, "Within months of the Whisky's debut, Life magazine had written it up, Jack Paar had broadcast an episode of his post- Tonight weekly program from the club, and Steve McQueen and Jayne Mansfield had installed themselves as regulars." Legendary actor McQueen, it should be noted, was a former US Marine who had served in an elite unit tasked with protecting President Harry Truman's private yacht.

Turning now to the Byrds, the band that started the folk-rock revolution, we find that they were, by any reasonable assessment, an entirely manufactured phenomenon. As a fledgling band, they had any number of problems. The first and most obvious was that the band's members did not own any musical instruments. That problem was solved though when Naomi Hirschorn, better known for funding quasi-governmental projects such as the Hirschorn Museum in Washington, DC, stepped up to the plate to provide the band with instruments, amplifiers and the like. But that didn't solve a bigger problem, which was that the band's members, with the notable exception of Jim (later Roger) McGuinn, didn't have a clue as to how to actually play those instruments.

Cast to play the bass player was Chris Hillman, who had never picked up a bass guitar in his life. As he candidly admitted years later, he "was a mandolin player and didn't know how to play bass. But [the other band members] didn't know how to play their instruments either, so I didn't feel too bad about it." On drums was Michael Clarke, who had never before held a set of drumsticks in his hands but who bore a resemblance to Rolling Stone Brian Jones, which was deemed to be of more significance than actual musical ability. As Crosby co-author Carl Gottlieb recalled, "Clarke had played beatnik bongos and conga drum, but had no experience with conventional drumming."

Richie Unterberger noted in Turn! Turn! Turn! that the guys in the Byrds "had barely known each other before getting thrown into the studio, were still learning electric instruments, and in a couple cases had never really even played their assigned instruments at all. Actually, Michael Clarke didn't even have an instrument to start with; on his first rehearsals, and even some recording sessions, he kept time on cardboard boxes."

Gene Clark, though by far the most gifted songwriter in the band and a talented vocalist as well, could barely play his guitar and so was relegated to banging the tambourine, which was Jim Morrison's (and various non-musically inclined members of the Partridge Family's) instrument of choice as well. David Crosby, tasked with rhythm guitar duties, wasn't much better. Crosby himself admitted, in his first autobiography (does anyone really need to write more than one autobiography, by the way?), that, "Roger was the only one who could really play."

The band had another problem. With the clear exception of Gene Clark, the group was a bit lacking in songwriting ability. To compensate, they initially played mostly covers. Fully a third of the band's first album consisted of covers of Dylan songs, and nearly another third was made up of covers of songs by other folk singer/songwriters. Clark contributed the five original songs, two of them co-written with McGuinn. As for Crosby, who emerged as the band's biggest star, his only contribution to the Byrds' first album was backing vocals.

Carl Franzoni perhaps summed it up best when he declared rather bluntly that, "the Byrds' records were manufactured." The first album in particular was an entirely engineered affair created by taking a collection of songs by outside songwriters and having them performed by a group of nameless studio musicians (for the record, the actual musicians were Glen Campbell on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on bass, Leon Russell on electric piano, and Jerry Cole on rhythm guitar), after which the band's trademark vocal harmonies, entirely a studio creation, were added to the mix.

As would be expected, the Byrds' live performances, according to Barney Hoskyns' Waiting for the Sun, "weren't terribly good." But that didn't matter much; the band got a lot of assistance from the media, with Time being among the first to champion the new band. And they also got a tremendous assist from Vito and the Freaks and from the Young Turks, as previously discussed.

We shall return to the Byrds, and to the ubiquitous Vito Paulekas, in the next chapter. For now, I leave you with this curious little story about Byrd Chris Hillman's initial arrival in Laurel Canyon, as told by Michael Walker in Laurel Canyon: "In the autumn of 1964, a nineteen-year-old bluegrass adept and virtuoso mandolin player named Chris Hillman stood at the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Kirkwood Drive contemplating a FOR RENT sign on a telephone pole across from the Canyon Country Store ... It didn't take him long to find [a place to stay]' and, in the canyon's emerging mythos of enchanted serendipity, one presented itself as if by magic. 'This guy drives up and he says you looking for a place to rent?' Hillman recalls. '1 said yeah, and he said, Well, follow me up. It was this young guy who was a dentist. It was his parents' house, a beautiful old wood house down a dirt road-and he lived on the top, and he was renting out the bottom part. I just went, Wow, perfect. The guy ended up being my dentist for a while ... It was the top of the world, a beautiful, beautiful place. I had the best place in the canyon.'''

In the Los Angeles of the 1960s, you see, it was quite common for a very wealthy person to offer exquisite living accommodations to a random, scruffy vagrant. We know this to be true because it happened to Charles Manson on more than one occasion. In any event, Chris Hillman's former mountaintop home no longer exists because, as tends to happen in Laurel Canyon, it burned to the ground on what Walker described as a "hot, witchy day in the sixties." According to Hillman, "Crosby was at my house an hour before the blaze. I can't connect it yet-where the Satan factor came into play with David-but I'm working on it."
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:53 am

13. EIGHT MILES HIGH AND FALLING FAST THE BYRDS

''I'd have to say that, personally speaking, Crosby was worse for the good feelings of [the local] rock'n'roll [scene] than Manson was."

-- Terry Melcher


ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE LURKING ABOUT THE PERIPHERY OF the Laurel Canyon scene was the Byrds' first producer, Terry Melcher. It is fairly well known that Melcher was the son of 'virginal' actress Doris Day, who was just sixteen when impregnated and seventeen when Terry was born. Melcher's father was trombonist Al Jorden, who reportedly regularly beat Day, and likely Terry as well. Jorden wasn't around for long though; his death, when Melcher was just two or three years old, was yet another Hollywood suicide.

After an equally short-lived second marriage, Doris Day married her agent and producer, Marty Melcher, who was universally regarded as one of the biggest assholes in Hollywood-and that's not an easy title to attain, given the fierce competition. Like Jorden, Melcher was well known for being a tyrannically violent and abusive man. He also reportedly embezzled some $20 million from his wife/client. On the bright side though, he did adopt and help raise Terry, who took his name.

Terry Melcher, perhaps more so than anyone else, had deep ties to virtually all aspects of the canyon scene, including the Laurel Canyon musicians, the Manson Family, the group of young Hollywood actors generally referred to as 'The Young Turks,' and the Vito Paulekas dance troupe. As it turns out, Melcher first met Vito Paulekas when Terry was still in high school in the late 1950s. As Melcher later recalled, "Vito was an art instructor. When I was in high school, we'd go to his art studio because he had naked models." A half-decade or so later, Melcher and Paulekas would, each in his own way, become key players in launching not just the career of the Byrds but the entire Laurel Canyon music scene, as well as the accompanying youth countercultural movement.

Also while still in high school, Melcher befriended Bruce Johnston, the adopted son of a top executive with the Rexall drugstore chain. While growing up on the not-so-mean streets of Beverly Hills and Bel Air, the two recorded together as singing duo Bruce and Terry. Johnston also played in a high school band with Phil Spector, who, it will be recalled, shared with Melcher (and various others in this story) the distinction of having lost a parent to an alleged act of suicide.

As has been pointed out already, it was Spector's crack team of studio musicians, dubbed the Wrecking Crew, who provided the instrumental tracks for countless albums by Laurel Canyon bands. Bruce Johnston, meanwhile, went on to become a Beach Boy, replacing Wrecking Crew member Glen Campbell, who had briefly replaced Brian Wilson after Brian abruptly decided that he no longer wanted to perform live. Brian's brother Dennis forged a close bond with Terry Melcher, as well as with Gregg Jakobson, a would-be actor and talent scout who was married to famed comedian Lou Costello's daughter.

The trio of Wilson, Melcher and Jakobson, who dubbed themselves the "Golden Penetrators" (with Wilson referring to himself rather subtly as "The Wood"), infamously forged a close bond with a musician/ prophet/penetrator by the name of Charles Manson. In 1966, Melcher, along with Mark Lindsay of the band Paul Revere and the Raiders, leased and moved into the soon-to-be infamous home at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. (Lindsay would later have the dubious distinction of also living for a time in that other infamous canyon death house, on Wonderland Avenue; Lindsay was also a regular visitor to the Log Cabin.) The two were soon joined by Melcher's girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen. Melcher and Bergen remained in the home until early 1969, frequently entertaining high-profile guests from both the music and film industries.

During the summer of 1968, when Charlie Manson and numerous members of his entourage, including Charles "Tex" Watson and Dean Moorehouse, were shacking up with Melcher's sidekick, Dennis Wilson, Watson and Moorehouse were known to regularly visit the Melcher/ Bergen home on Cielo Drive. Charlie Manson is known to have visited the Melcher home on several occasions as well, and to have occasionally borrowed Melcher's Jaguar. Just after Melcher and Bergen vacated the home, Jakobson reportedly arranged for Moorehouse to live there briefly, before Tate and Polanski took possession in February of 1969. During Moorehouse's stay, Tex, who would later be portrayed as the leader of the Tate and LaBianca hit squads, came calling regularly. His address book would later be found to contain a phone number for a former Polanski residence.

Watson had moved out to LA from Texas in 1966 after opting to drop out of college, which those who knew him viewed as being wildly out of character. By the spring of 1968, when Charles Watson met Charles Manson at Dennis Wilson's home, Tex was the modish co-owner of Crown Wig Creations on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Through that business enterprise, he had developed extensive Hollywood contacts-contacts that came in handy when he began handling large drug transactions and large piles of cash for Charlie Manson. Tex Watson soon grew so close to Manson that, according to Ed Sanders, he was known to complain at times "that he actually thought he was Charlie."

According to Vanity Fair, Tex Watson was also "a regular patron of the Whisky," which isn't too surprising given that Elmer Valentine's club was well known to be a major drug trafficking site during the late 1960s. Watson's frequent sidekick Dean Moorehouse, by the way, hailed from Minot, North Dakota, identified by Maury Terry as the longtime home of a Process faction with deep ties to Offutt Air Force Base. Though it is purely speculation, it seems entirely possible that Moorehouse served as a handler for both Charlies -- Manson and Watson. Perhaps tellingly, Vincent Bugliosi mentioned Moorehouse only once in his nearly 700- page treatment of the Manson case (in much the same way that David Crosby ignored Vito Paulekas in his wordy autobiography).

In the spring of 1969, the trio of Wilson, Melcher and Jakobson got close to Bobby Beausoleil as well. Jakobson made at least two trips to the Gerard Theatrical Agency to hear demo tapes that Bobby had recorded. The agency, headed by Jack Gerard, specialized in supplying topless dancers to seedy clubs, and actors and actresses for porno film shoots. Beausoleil's primary job with the agency was to deliver carloads of girls to the clubs; more than a few of those girls were members of Charlie's Family. In March of 1969, just months before he was arrested for the torture-murder of Gary Hinman, Bobby signed a songwriting contract with the agency and began recording demos.

Beausoleil also accompanied Melcher and Jakobson on at least two trips out to the Spahn Movie Ranch, once in May of 1969 and then again the next month. Jakobson was a frequent visitor to Spahn and was known to boast of having held over 100 hours of conversations with the all-knowing prophet known as Charles Manson. Gregg also lobbied NBC to shoot a documentary film about the Manson Family's 'hippie commune' and the network was for a time quite interested in the project. Along with Dennis Wilson, Jakobson also arranged for Charlie to record at an unnamed studio in Santa Monica; that session was also attended by Terry Melcher, Bobby Beausoleil and several of the Manson girls.

Lest anyone think otherwise, by the way, the Manson Family certainly had no shortage of talented musicians. Convicted murderer Charles Manson, of course, was widely viewed by his contemporaries in the canyon as a talented singer/songwriter/guitarist. So too was Bobby Beausoleil, who had jammed with Dennis Wilson, played rhythm guitar for the pre-Love lineup known as the Grass Roots, knew Frank Zappa and had visited the Log Cabin, and later composed and recorded the film score for Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising. Convicted murderer Patricia Krenwinkle was an accomplished guitarist and songwriter. Convicted murderer Steve "Clem" Grogan was a talented musician as well; he later played in the prison band assembled by Beausoleil to record the Lucifer Rising soundtrack. In addition, Family members Brooks Poston and Paul Watkins were accomplished musicians, and Catherine "Gypsy" Share was a virtuoso violin player as well as being a singer and occasional actress (see, for example, Ramrodder, costarring Bobby Beausoleil and filmed partially at-where else?-Spahn Movie Ranch).

Catherine Share is notable in other ways as well, including her unparalleled feat of raising the bar so high on parental suicides that no one else, even in Laurel Canyon, is likely to be able to clear it. Orphaned as a child when both biological parents purportedly committed suicide, Gypsy was adopted by a psychologist and his wife. Her adoptive mother then allegedly committed suicide as well, leaving her to be raised by her adoptive father. Share is also notable for being the oldest of Charlie's girls, nearly twenty-seven at the time of the murders (most of the others were under twenty-one, and many, including Dean Moorehouse's daughter, Ruth Ann "Ouisch" Moorehouse, were minors). Gypsy lived with Bobby Beausoleil before meeting and living with Manson, and she seemed to serve as a recruiter for both of them.

According to Ed Sanders, Gypsy Share also "arranged for Paul Rothchild, the producer of the Doors, to hear the family music." It seems as though just about everyone had an opportunity to hear the Family's music. Some of it was recorded in Beach Boy Brian Wilson's state-of-the- art home recording studio. Some was recorded by Terry Melcher and Gregg Jakobson at Spahn Ranch using a mobile recording studio. Some was recorded in Santa Monica. By some reports, some was recorded by a major Hollywood studio. Other recordings were likely made as well, though nobody really likes to talk about such things. Gregg Jakobson recorded many of his marathon conversations with Charlie, but as with the demo recordings made by Dennis Wilson, everyone likes to pretend that such recordings were lost or destroyed or never existed.

The Family was filmed at Spahn Ranch by Melcher as well. Family members also shot an extensive amount of film making 'home movies,' which some witnesses have claimed included Family orgies and ritualized snuff films. A vast amount of NBC camera equipment and film was found to be in the possession of Charlie's motley crew, all of which was claimed to be stolen. It seems likely, however, given the network's known involvement with the Family, that the equipment was provided to them so that they could film their exploits.

When not hanging out with Charlie and Tex and Bobby, Terry Melcher also found time to produce the records that first catapulted the Byrds to fame: Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn! The first, recorded in January 1965 and released a few months later, was the record that announced to the world the arrival of a new breed of music. Those early hits were created, simply enough, by borrowing from the songbooks of folk legends Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger and then playing those songs on amplified equipment. Dylan himself followed suit not long after, at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965, much to the consternation of the gathered crowd of folkies.

In Hotel California, Barney Hoskyns writes that the Byrds were, from the very outset, "conceived as an electric rock'n'roll group." What Hoskyns doesn't really clarify though is who exactly it was that initially conceived of this hugely influential band in those terms. Surely it wasn't the band members themselves who decided that they were going to pioneer a new musical genre, since they probably had their hands full with just learning to play their instruments. It would probably be slightly more accurate to say that the Byrds appear to have been initially conceived as an electric folk-rock group. By July of 1966, however, when the band released its third album, featuring the Gene Clark-penned Eight Miles High, it had morphed into something different and by doing so helped pioneer another genre of music: psychedelic rock. With the later addition of Gram Parsons and the growing influence of Chris Hillman, the Byrds would next morph into a country-rock band, thus helping to spawn that genre of music as well.

According to rock'n'roll legend, the first two Byrds to get together were James Joseph McGuinn III and Harold Eugene Clark. McGuinn hailed from Chicago, the son of best-selling authors James and Dorothy McGuinn. Considered a very talented guitarist, Jim had played with Bobby Darin, the Limeliters, and the Chad Mitchell Trio. In 1962, he left the Chad Mitchell Trio and worked for a time in New York City as a studio musician-before hearing the call that so many others seemed to hear and making his way to Los Angeles. Once there, he wasted no time hooking up with Gene Clark.

Clark had been born in Tipton, Missouri, the second-oldest in a family of thirteen siblings. An undeniably talented songwriter and vocalist, Clark cut his first record with a local rock'n'roll combo when he was just thirteen years old. He later joined the New Christy Minstrels, a vocal ensemble known during his tenure primarily for the hit song Green, Green. Like so many others, however, Gene soon found himself packing his bags for-where else?-Los Angeles, where he met up with the recently-arrived Jim McGuinn. The newly formed folk duo soon added a third voice to the mix-our old friend David Crosby, who had formerly been a vocalist with Les Baxter's Balladeers.

Crosby brought in manager Jim Dickson, with whom he had done some solo sessions in 1963. The year before that, Dickson had produced a self-titled album for a band known as the Hillmen, featuring a young mandolin player out of San Diego named Chris Hillman. Hillman had cut his first album, with a band known as the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, while still in high school. He was a highly regarded young bluegrass musician and was generally considered to be a virtuoso mandolin player, which I guess is why Jim Dickson cast him to play the part of the bass player in the world's first folk-rock band. And as we already know, Hillman lucked out in securing luxurious living accommodations right in the heart of what was to become the music community's epicenter, so he was all set to become a rock star.

Raised on a ranch in San Diego, Hillman had traveled alone to Berkeley when he was just fifteen, ostensibly to take private mandolin lessons. At about that same time, his father had-wait for it-reportedly committed suicide. Those two closely aligned events would, I guess, have had a profound impact on the young musician.

Hillman would ultimately become a skilled bass player and a major figure in the Laurel Canyon-spawned country-rock movement. Like many others of that bent, Hillman had been a huge fan of Spade Cooley during his formative years and he later cited Cooley as a major influence on his own musical direction. Most readers are probably not familiar with the story of the "King of Western Swing," which is kind of a shame because as stories go, it's a pretty good one, so let's digress here briefly and meet the man who was frequently cited as one of the forefathers of country-rock, and whom Brian Wilson has cited as a major influence as well.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Donnell Clyde "Spade" Cooley was a popular local musician and bandleader. His weekly shows at the Redondo Beach Pier could draw as many as 10,000 appreciative fans, few of whom knew of his alcoholism, violent temper, or prior arrest for attempted rape. His popularity ultimately landed him his own local television show, The Spade Cooley Hour. His career, however, came to an abrupt end on April 3, 1961, when he tortured and murdered his young wife, Ella Mae Cooley, while forcing his fourteen-year-old daughter to watch in horror.

According to court transcripts, Ella Mae had been spending a considerable amount of time in the company of two men, identified as Luther Jackson and Bud Davenport, both of whom worked in the sprawling, CIA-infested medical research facility at UCLA. On the day of her death, Ella Mae had made the rather bold decision to inform Spade that the two men had initiated her into a 'free love' cult and that she had decided to give up her family and all her possessions to join the group, which was in the process of buying land near the ocean to build and operate a private compound.

Spade Cooley's response to his wife's declaration was to brutally beat, stomp and strangle her to death, but only after repeatedly burning her with a lit cigarette. All of this was witnessed by daughter Melody, who had been told by her father that "now you're going to watch me kill this whore." After doing just that, Spade then asked his daughter if she thought that Ella Mae was really dead, adding, "Well, let's see if she is." He then proceeded to burn her lifeless body repeatedly with another lit cigarette, until he apparently was satisfied that she was indeed dead.

Unlike so many other celebrity homicide suspects, Cooley was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to serve a life sentence. He was sent to the rather notorious Vacaville facility where he served eight years before being offered early parole. Just before his scheduled release, he arranged a November 23, 1969, comeback concert in Oakland for which his captors had agreed to release him on a three-day pass. The concert was reportedly a huge success and it looked as though Cooley's star was about to shine once again upon his pending release from prison. But that's not quite how this story ends; instead, Cooley walked back to his dressing room right after the show and promptly dropped dead, thus ending the saga of Spade Cooley and allowing us to return to where we left off ... after, that is, taking one more quick detour here to note that not long after Spade Cooley was scheduled for release, another peripheral character in this story decided that it might be a good idea to kill his wife as well. "Humble" Harve Miller was a popular DJ on LA's number one pop music station during that era, KHJ on the AM dial. During the latter half of the 1960s, Miller was yet another of the players who helped launch the careers of the Laurel Canyon bands, by being the first to get their new singles on the radio. But then he, like Cooley, killed his wife and was sent to prison. Also like Cooley, he was granted early release. But unlike Spade, Miller successfully resumed his career. And now, at long last, we can return to the Byrds.

By mid-1964, the nucleus of what would become the band had formed with the bonding of McGuinn and Clark. Between the two of them, they would provide the band with its signature twelve-string guitar sound, its two lead vocalists, and (in the early years, at least) its best songwriters. Then along came David Crosby, who added little more than harmony vocals, at least on the first two albums, but who seems to have largely hijacked the band with the help of manager Jim Dickson, who added fake bass player (but real musician) Chris Hillman. Crosby then rounded out the band by adding fake drummer Michael Clarke.

Clarke had been born Michael Dick in Spokane, Washington. At seventeen, Dick ran away from home and hitchhiked to the land of enchantment known as California, apparently becoming Michael Clarke along the way. The year was 1963. According to rock history as told by David Crosby, Clarke and Crosby met in Big Sur, which coincidentally happens to be the location of the notorious Esalen Institute (where CSNY would play some years later). A year later, the vagrant teenager with no drumming experience would find himself cast to play the role of the drummer in the band designed to be America's answer to the Beatles. According to Crosby, Clarke's first LA address was the home of Terry Melcher.

The band, now complete, first dubbed themselves the Jet Set and then the Beefeaters, even recording a less-than-memorable single under the latter moniker, before finally settling on the Byrds. Before the end of 1964, Jim Dickson had signed the band to a deal with Columbia Records. As Barney Hoskyns recounts in Waiting for the Sun, "The obvious ineptitude of Michael Clarke and shakiness of most of the others was still a problem when Jim Dickson got the band signed to Columbia in November." Columbia assigned the new band to staff producer Terry Melcher.

That assignment, it would seem, was a rather fortuitous one given that the fledgling band's rehearsal space just happened to be in the very same basement studio that Melcher snuck off to while in high school. Just two months after signing with Columbia, the band, or rather its surrogates, were already in the studio recording Mr. Tambourine Man, at the insistence of Jim Dickson. Despite the objections of various band members, Dickson reportedly pushed hard for the song to be the band's first single. On March 26, 1965, just two months after pretending to lay down the instrumental tracks for Mr. Tambourine Man, the Byrds played their first real live show, as the first act at the refurbished and reopened Ciro's nightclub.

I wasn't there so I can't say for sure, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that a band whose entire rhythm section was just learning to play their instruments probably did not put on a very compelling performance. The Byrds apparently played one other live show before the Ciro's opening, though the nature of that show appears to be in dispute (or perhaps there were two previous shows). According to Jim Dickson, "The Byrds first public gig was booked by Lenny Bruce's mother, Sally Marr. She got them a job at Los Angeles City College, noon assembly, for a half hour." According to Carl Franzoni and various others, however, it was Vito Paulekas who booked the Byrds' first live show, at a rented hall on Melrose Avenue just a day or two before the show at Ciro's.

In any event, Mr. Tambourine Man was released about a month after the band had its big public debut at Ciro's, and the LA music scene would never be the same again. Before long, clubs big and small were popping up all along the fabled Sunset Strip and bands were spilling out of Laurel Canyon to play them. As Terry Melcher recalled, "kids came from everywhere. It just happened. One day you couldn't drive anymore. It was, like, overnight-you couldn't drive on the Strip."

That would soon change. By the summer of 1967, the mythical Summer of Love, the club scene on the Strip was quickly dying. It had been killed, deliberately or not, by some of the key players who had created it: Terry Melcher, producer of the scene's first band; Lou Adler, business partner of club owner Elmer Valentine; and John Phillips, leader of the Mamas and the Papas. It was the show they produced, you see, the fabled Monterey Pop Festival held on June 16-18, 1967, that killed the Sunset Strip scene. The bands that had filled the clubs became, literally overnight, too big to play such intimate venues. Over the course of the next decade, Laurel Canyon bands quickly moved from clubs to concert halls to massive sports arenas. But here we are, I suppose, getting ahead of ourselves.

As for the Byrds, they carried on for a good many years, albeit with numerous personnel changes. First out was the man who many feel was the most talented member of the group, Gene Clark, who dropped out in March of 1966, just one year after the band had first taken the stage at Ciro's. Clark was also the first original Byrd to pass away, on May 24, 1991, at just forty-six years of age, reportedly due to a bleeding ulcer. Two-and-a-half-years later, on December 19, 1993, Michael Clarke died as well when his liver failed. Both deaths were attributed to chronic alcoholism.

Jim McGuinn, who remained a Byrd through numerous band lineups, joined the Subud religious sect in 1965. Two years later, upon the advice of the cult's founder, he changed his name to Roger. A decade later, he became a born-again Christian. In a similar vein, Chris Hillman became an Evangelical Christian in the 1980s, but then later switched to the Greek Orthodox faith. Hillman played in various Byrds lineups, with Gram Parsons' Flying Burrito Brothers, and in David Geffen's failed attempt at creating a second supergroup, one known as Souther, Hillman, Furay. David Crosby, of course, left the Byrds and became one-third of David Geffen's first supergroup, Crosby, Stills & Nash. These days he primarily spends his time inseminating lesbians and occasionally reuniting with former bandmates.

Jim Dickson and Terry Melcher continued to work with some of the Byrds, particularly Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman. Melcher formed a particularly close bond with fellow 'trust-fund kid' Parsons, as did Melcher's sometime sidekick, John Phillips. Both Melcher and Phillips, of course, had ties to Charles Manson (Melcher raved about him to Ned Doheny), whose former prison buddy, Phil Kaufman, was, as already noted, Parsons' road manager. In unrelated news, Bill Siddons, the Doors' road manager, was once a paramour of Mansonite Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme.

The Family's fingerprints, it appears, can be found in nearly every nook and cranny of the Laurel Canyon scene.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:54 am

14. THE GREAT SERENDIPITY BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD

"This is going to break your heart, but much of the music you heard in the sixties and early seventies wasn't recorded by the people you saw on the album covers. It was done by me and the musicians you see on these walls ... Many of these kids didn't have the chops and were little more than garage bands ... At concerts, people hear with their eyes. Teens cut groups slack in concert, but not when they bought their records."

-- Hal Blaine, longtime drummer for the Wrecking Crew, quoted in the Wall Street Journal on March 23, 2011


THE BYRDS WERE THE VERY FIRST FOLK-ROCK BAND TO TAKE FLIGHT OUT OF Laurel Canyon, and they were also the one that achieved the greatest fame, but to many discerning ears, the Sunset Strip's other folk-rock powerhouse, Buffalo Springfield, was the more talented band.

In the literature chronicling the 1960s music scene, few stories have been repeated more frequently than the legend surrounding the formation of what would later be regarded as perhaps the first 'supergroup.' All such accounts unquestioningly retell the story as though it were the gospel truth, seemingly oblivious to the improbability of virtually every aspect of the legend. And curiously, virtually every version of the story contains some form of the word "serendipity," as though everyone has been copying off the same kid's homework.

As the story goes, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, both formerly of the Au Go-Go Singers, had recently transplanted themselves to Los Angeles after the breakup of the manufactured folkie group. Stills had been the first to relocate, in August of 1965. Furay flew out to join him in February 1966, after spending a little time working at defense contractor Pratt & Whitney, and the two set their sights on putting together a folk-rock band.

Meanwhile, up in Toronto, Neil Young and Bruce Palmer were playing in a band known as the Mynah Birds-a band fronted by an AWOL Navy man known as Ricky James Matthews, who would later morph into funkmeister/torturer/rapist Rick James, but whose real name was James Ambrose Johnson, Jr. The Mynah Birds broke up in March of 1965, just after authorities came calling on Matthews and tossed him in the Brooklyn Brig. In search of a new band, Young made the curious decision to head out to LA, for no better reason than that he had what Palmer described as "a hunch, a feeling that ... Stephen Stills was in LA."

Of course, Young had no clue if Stills was in fact there, nor did he know anyone else in LA And you would think that he would have realized that, even if Stills was there, there was virtually no chance of finding some random person in a city of millions, especially when the person doing the searching had no idea how to get around the city. But no matter. Neil had a calling, so he jumped into an old hearse, of all things, recruited Palmer to ride shotgun, and the two set off on the lengthy trek to Los Angeles.

They arrived, the legend tells us, on April 1, 1966-April Fool's Day, appropriately enough-and began the search for Stills. Several days of searching yielded no results, however, and on the afternoon of April 6, the frustrated pair decided to head off to San Francisco in the hopes that maybe they would have better luck finding Stephen there. Perhaps they were going to go on a tour of all the big cities in America, in the hopes that somewhere along the way they might find Stephen Stills.

But as fate would have it, just as they were about to head out of town, Stephen Stills found them. As Barney Hoskyns tells the story in Hotel California, "Early in April 1966, Stills and Richie Furay were stuck in a Sunset Strip traffic jam in Barry Friedman's Bentley. As they sat in the car, Stephen spotted a 1953 Pontiac hearse with Ontario plates on the other side of the street. 'I'll be damned if that ain't Neil Young,' Stills said. Friedman executed an illegal U-turn and pulled up behind the hearse. One of rock's great serendipities had just occurred. Young, a lanky Canadian, had just driven all the way from Detroit in the company of bassist Bruce Palmer. They'd caught the bug that was drawing hundreds of other pop wannabes to the West Coast."

The pair had actually driven out from Toronto, not Detroit, and the hearse was a 1959 model by most accounts, and Stills and Furay were in a van rather than a Bentley, but such inconsistencies are typical of all Hollywood legends. In any event, John Einarson, in For What It's Worth, supplies a somewhat longer and more hyperbole-filled version of the legend: "What transpired next is no longer considered simply a chance encounter. Transcending mere fact, the events of the next few minutes have taken on mythic proportions to become, in the annals of popular culture, legendary. More than pure luck, coincidence or serendipity, at that very moment the planets aligned, stars crossed, everyone's karma turned positive, divine intervention interceded, the hand of fate revealed itself-whatever you subscribe to in order to explain the unexplained. Though each of the five participants in that moment in time tell it slightly differently, the fact remains that the occupants of the white van, individually or collectively, depending on who's retelling it, noticed the black hearse with the foreign plate heading the other direction. Once the light of recognition came on, the van hastily pulled an illegal, and likely difficult in rush hour, U-turn, maneuvering its way through the line of northbound cars, horn honking frantically all the while, to pull up behind the hearse. One of the passengers leapt out, ran up and pounded on the driver's side window of the strange vehicle, yelling to the startled travelers inside who had taken no notice of the blaring car horn directly behind them. 'Hey Neil, it's me, Steve Stills! Pull over, man!' The drivers of the two vehicles managed to find curb space or a vacant store parking lot, again depending on whose version is being related, and the five piled out to embrace and introduce one another. .. On April 6, 1966, in that late afternoon line of traffic, the course of popular music was altered forever."

Anyone who actually lives and drives in LA likely knows that "difficult" is not really the word to describe the feasibility of making an impromptu U-turn in rush hour traffic on the Sunset Strip; the correct word would be "impossible," which is the same word that accurately describes the likelihood of that van "maneuvering its way through the line of northbound cars," or of it finding "curb space" on Sunset Boulevard. But let's just play along and assume that Neil Young and Stephen Stills, each of whom, for some reason, had been dreaming about forming a band with the other, had a random, chance encounter on Sunset Boulevard. In that brief moment in time, a band was formed-or at least four-fifths of a band.

Retiring to the home of Barry Friedman, who would later legally change his name to Frazier Mohawk, the quartet of musicians quickly decided that their newly formed band would only perform original material, though they didn't yet actually have any original material. They did though have three singer/songwriter/guitarists on board (Furay, Young and Stills), along with a bass player (Bruce Palmer), so all that was needed was a drummer. Three days later, on April 9, 1966, they acquired one, in the form of Dewey Martin, formerly with the Dillards.

The Dillards, in another awesome bit of serendipity, had just decided to go back to their acoustic bluegrass roots, so they no longer needed a drummer. They also decided that they had no further need for a whole bunch of new electric instruments and stacks of amplifiers, so Dewey, according to legend, brought all of that with him. Because the Dillards, you know, were just going to throw it all away anyway. So now, with the stars all properly aligned, the band was not only complete but they each had shiny new electric instruments to play-and it all had magically come together in just seventy-two hours!

There was still much work to be done, of course. For one thing, they all had to familiarize themselves with those shiny new electric instruments. And they all had to learn to play together as a band. And they had to build up a repertoire of original songs. And they had to rehearse and polish those songs. But not to worry; they had, as we'll see, at least a couple of hours to work on each of those things.

Unlike the Byrds, the members of the Buffalo Springfield were, by all accounts, talented musicians from the outset. Stills and Young were both skilled lead guitarists and songwriters, though Young's vocals were, to be sure, an acquired taste. Furay was an accomplished rhythm guitarist and songwriter, as well as being the group's best lead vocalist. Bruce Palmer was a respected bass player who, shockingly, actually had experience playing the instrument. And Dewey Martin, several years older than the rest of the crew, had drummed for such legendary artists as the Everly Brothers, Charlie Rich, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, and Carl Perkins.

None of that, however, explains the absurdly meteoric rise of Buffalo Springfield. On April 11, 1966, just five days after the quartet had purportedly first met and just two days after they had added a drummer and acquired instruments, the band played its first club date at one of Hollywood's most prestigious venues, the Troubadour. Four days later, on April 15, they played the first of six dates around the southland opening for the Byrds, the hottest band on the Strip. That mini-tour was followed almost immediately by a six-week stand at the hottest club in town, the Whisky-a-Go-Go. That gig wrapped up on June 20, 1966.

A month later, on July 25, the band landed the opening slot on the most anticipated concert of the year-the Rolling Stones show at the Hollywood Bowl, sponsored by local radio station KHJ. The station, by the way, had just been launched the previous year, in May of 1965, just a few weeks after the Byrds had taken the world by storm with the release of Mr. Tambourine Man and sparked a folk-rock revolution. Just as new clubs magically appeared along the Sunset Strip in anticipation of the about-to-explode music scene, so too did a radio station magically appear to promote those new clubs and the artists filling them. Such things tend to happen, as we know, rather, uhmm, serendipitously.

Three days after the Stones concert at the Bowl, Buffalo Springfield released its first single, the Neil Young-penned Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing, which failed to connect with the record-buying public. Several months later though, the band would release what was to be its only hit single and what would become the most recognizable 'protest' song of the 1960s.

Buffalo Springfield had signed with Atlantic Records, which had been founded in 1947 by Ahmet Ertegun and dentist/investor Herb Abramson. Born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1923, the year the Turk Republic was established, Ahmet was both the son and the grandson of career diplomats/ civil servants. His father had been named the first Turkish representative to the League of Nations in 1925 and thereafter served as the Turk Republic's ambassador to Switzerland, France and England. In 1935, he was named the first Turkish ambassador to the United States and he promptly relocated the family to Washington, DC.

From about the age of twelve, Ahmet grew up along DC's Embassy Row, attending elite private schools with the sons and daughters of senators, congressmen, and intelligence operatives. In 1947, three years after his father died, Ertegun founded Atlantic Records. At first the label was home to jazz and R&B artists, including Ray Charles, the company's first big star. In the late 1950s, Ertegun took on his first assistant-a guy by the name of Phil Spector. Atlantic soon shifted focus and rock luminaries like Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones would later join the label's stable of talent.

Curiously enough, Columbia Records, the corporate entity that signed the Byrds, was also born in the nation's capitol. The name is derived from the District of Columbia, where the label was founded and first headquartered some 125 years ago. It would appear then that the two record labels that signed and launched Laurel Canyon's first two folk-rock bands were not only major record labels but also happened to be corporate entities that had deep ties to the nation's center of power. With Laurel Canyon's other bands as well, it was the major record labels, not upstart independents, that signed the new artists. It was the major labels that provided them with instruments and amplifiers. It was the major labels that provided them with studio time and session musicians. It was the major labels that recorded, mixed and arranged their albums. And it was the major labels that released and then heavily promoted those albums.

As Unterberger duly notes in his expansive, two-volume review of the folk-rock movement, "much folk-rock was recorded and issued by huge corporations, and broadcast over radio and television stations owned for the most part by the same or similar pillars of the establishment." The corporate titans of all three branches of the mainstream media-print, radio and television-did their part to help out the titans of the record industry. Unterberger notes that, "AM radio (and sometimes primetime network television) would act as a primary conduit for this countercultural expression." Conservative, corporate-controlled AM stations across the country almost immediately began giving serious airplay to the new sounds coming out of Southern California, and network television gave the rising stars unprecedented coverage and exposure: "primetime variety hours were much more likely to showcase rock acts than they would be in subsequent decades. New releases by the Byrds were often accompanied by large ads in trade magazines that simultaneously plugged the records and upcoming TV appearances."

The boys in Buffalo Springfield, for example, managed to find themselves appearing as guests on an impressive array of network television shows, including American Bandstand, The Smothers Brothers Show, Shebang I, The Della Reese Show, The Go Show, The Andy Williams Show, Hollywood Palace, Where the Action Is, Joey Bishop's late night show, and a local program known as Boss City. They also made guest appearances, curiously enough, on primetime hits like Mannix and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

The print media did its part as well to raise awareness of the new music/countercultural scene. In September 1965, the nation's premier newsweeklies, Time and Newsweek, "ran virtually simultaneous stories on the folk-rock craze," just months after the first folk-rock release had climbed to the top of the charts. The country's biggest daily newspapers chimed in as well, providing an inordinate amount of coverage of the emerging scene. By the end of 1967, the movement had its very own publication, Rolling Stone. Initially designed to look as though it were a product of the underground press, it was, without question, very much a corporate mouthpiece. Another avenue of the print media provided the scene with considerable exposure as well; as Einarson notes, many of the Laurel Canyon stars, particularly members of Buffalo Springfield and the Monkees, were "the darlings of the California teen magazines," including Teenset, Teen Screen, and Tiger Beat.

In 1964, just months before the birth of folk-rock, the LA Free Press, widely believed to be the first underground newspaper of the 1960s, was launched from offices at the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights, at the very mouth of Laurel Canyon. The publication, which quickly became the voice of the canyon, was initially financed by comedian Steve Allen. In the late 1970s, it was purchased and killed off by pornographer Larry Flynt.

As the story is usually told, the 1960s countercultural movement posed a rather serious threat to the status quo. But if that were truly the case, then why was it the "pillars of the establishment," to use Unterberger's words, that initially launched the movement? Why was it 'the man' that signed and recorded these artists? And that heavily promoted them on the radio, on television, and in print? And that set them up with their very own radio station and their very own monthly magazine?

It could be argued, I suppose, that this was simply a case of corporate America doing what it does best: making a profit off of anything and everything. Blinded by greed, a devil's advocate might say, the corporate titans inadvertently created a monster. The question that is begged by that explanation, however, is why, after it had become abundantly clear that a monster had allegedly been created, was nothing done to stop the growth of that monster? Why, for example, did the state not utilize its law enforcement and criminal justice powers to silence some of the most prominent countercultural voices?

It's not as if it would have required resorting to heavy-handed measures. Since many of the Laurel Canyon stars were openly using, dealing, or at least advocating the use of illegal substances, they were practically begging for the powers-that-be to take action. And yet that never happened. As just one example, three members of Buffalo Springfield (Neil Young, Richie Furay and Jim Messina, along with a dozen others, including Eric Clapton) were arrested in a drug bust at a Topanga Canyon home only to then walk away as if nothing had happened. Why wasn't this case, and so many others like it, aggressively prosecuted?

David Crosby has candidly acknowledged that "the DEA could have popped me for interstate transport of dope or dealing lots of times and never did." John Phillips, busted for wholesale trafficking of pharmaceuticals, was, by his own account, "looking at forty-five years and got thirty days." He began serving his sentence on April 20, appropriately enough, and served just twenty-four days in a minimum security prison that offered "residents" such activities as "basketball, aerobics, softball, tennis, archery, and golf," and that featured a "delicious kosher kitchen, an elaborate salad bar, and a tasty brunch on Sundays."

Time and time again, 'the man' was handed golden opportunities to crack down on Laurel Canyon's most prominent voices, and time and time again those 'dangerous dissidents' were handled with kid gloves. Indeed, the LAPD appears to have adopted a hands-off policy towards the Laurel Canyon crowd. As musician-turned-photographer Henry Diltz acknowledged to writer Harvey Kubernik, "There was not a presence of the heat in Laurel Canyon." Radio personality Elliot Mintz agreed, noting that he couldn't "recall a law enforcement presence in Laurel Canyon." Given the unique geography of the canyon community, it would have been very easy for the police to cut off access and conduct regular sweeps, but nothing like that ever happened. Instead, police seem to have stayed out of the canyon entirely.

The state had another powerful tool at its disposal to silence young critics-involuntary military service. There was, after all, a war going on and hundreds of thousands of draft-age young men across the country were being fed into the war machine. As Richie Unterberger noted in Turn! Turn! Turn!, "Most folk rockers (if they were male), like their audience, were of draft age." But curiously enough, "Very, very few had their careers interrupted by the draft." Actually, Unterberger appears to have been playing it safe with the "very, very few" wording since the reality is that none of the folks living the rock'n'roll life in the canyons, whether folk rockers, country rockers or psychedelic rockers, had their careers interrupted by the Vietnam War.

The literature is littered with mentions of various rock stars receiving their draft notices, but those mentions are invariably followed by amusing anecdotes about how said people fooled the draft board by pretending to be gay, or pretending to be crazy, or pretending to be otherwise unfit for service. Of course, if it had really been that easy to pull the wool over the draft board's eyes, then Uncle Sam probably wouldn't have been able to come up with all those bodies to send over to Vietnam. The reality is that thousands of young men across the country tried those very same tricks, but they only ever seemed to work for the Laurel Canyon crowd.

How is it possible that not one of the musical icons of the Woodstock generation, almost all of them draft age males, was shipped off to slog through the rice paddies of Vietnam? Should we just consider that to be another one of those great serendipities? Was it mere luck that kept all the Laurel Canyon stars out of jail and out of the military during the turbulent decade that was the 1960s? Not likely. The reality is that 'The Establishment,' as it was known in those days, had the power to prevent the musical icons of the 1960s from ever becoming the megastars that they became. The state, working hand-in-hand with corporate America, could quite easily have prevented the entire countercultural movement from ever getting off the ground-because then, as now, the state controlled the channels of communication.

A real grass-roots cultural revolution would probably have involved a bunch of starving musicians barely scratching out a living playing tiny coffee shops in the hopes of maybe someday landing a record deal with some tiny, independent label, and then, just maybe, if they got really lucky, getting a little airplay on some obscure college radio stations. But that's not how the sixties folk-rock 'revolution' played out. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

And now, without further adieu, let's circle back around and take a look at the Buffalo Springfield story from the beginning, starting from January 3, 1945, when Stephen Arthur Stills was born to William and Talitha Stills. As John Einarson recounts in For What It's Worth, Stephen's roots were "firmly planted in Southern soil. His family traces its history back to the plantations of the rural antebellum South. After the Union armies laid waste to much of the Southern farm economy, the family relocated to Illinois."

Einarson describes William Stills as "somewhat of a soldier of fortune, an engineer, builder, and dreamer who frequently uprooted the family to follow his dreams and schemes." That is, I suppose, as good a definition as any for what he actually appears to have been: a military intelligence operative who was frequently on assignment in various hotspots in Central America. Stephen's childhood was spent in Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and various parts of Central America, including Costa Rica, El Salvador and the Panama Canal Zone.

At a fairly young age, Stills attended the Admiral Farragut Military Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida. In later years, his authoritarian manner and military bearing would earn him the nickname "the Sarge." He joined his first band, the Radars, as a drummer. In his next band, the Continentals, he played guitar alongside another young guitarist named Don Felder, who would later turn up in Laurel Canyon as a member of the Eagles-because, as we have seen repeatedly, all roads seemed to lead to Laurel Canyon.

According to Einarson, "An unfortunate incident with the administration at his Tampa Bay high school resulted in Stephen's dismissal in 1961, after which he joined his wayward family then settled in Costa Rica." What that "unfortunate incident" may have been, and why he had been separated from his family at a fairly young age, remains a mystery. In any event, Stephen's next few years are rather murky. Some reports have him graduating from a high school in the Panama Canal Zone. Others have him shuffling back and forth between Florida and Central America. Stills himself has, as previously noted, at times claimed that he served a stint in Vietnam. Whatever the case, circa March of 1964, he surfaced in New Orleans with his sights set on a career in music.

By the summer of 1964, he had drifted to New York's Greenwich Village, where he became fast friends with a young folk singer/songwriter by the name of Peter Torkelson, who, like so many others in this story, hailed from Washington, DC. The two played together briefly as a duo before Torkelson "migrated to Connecticut then Venezuela," which was, I suppose, a typical migratory route for folkies in those days. Torkelson would soon enough make his way to Laurel Canyon, where he would become Monkee Peter Tork. Stills would also audition for the show, but his bad teeth and thinning hair would render him unfit for a leading role on primetime TV.

In July 1964, Stills found work as one of the nine members of the Au Go-Go Singers, the newly formed house band for New York's famed Cafe Au Go-Go. Singing alongside of Stills was a young folkie named Richie Furay, the son of a pharmacist who had run a family drugstore in Yellow Springs, Ohio. By November 1964, the Au Go-Go Singers already had an album out. But trouble soon arose, due primarily to the fact that the band was under contract to Morris Levy, a known organized crime figure who would soon be indicted on an array of criminal charges. The band soon broke up and Furay headed off to Connecticut where a cousin got him a job at Pratt & Whitney. While working there, he took a little time off to audition for a slot in the Chad Mitchell Trio, but he was beat out by a military brat from Roswell named John Deutschendorf.

Stephen Stills, meanwhile, hung out in New York for a while longer before heeding the call of the Pied Piper and heading out to LA in August of 1965. That was the summer, according to Einarson, that "the epicenter of American rock'n'roll shifted coasts, Los Angeles replacing New York as the power base of the music industry." Richie Furay apparently soon found himself missing Stills but didn't know how to reach his former sidekick, so he sent a letter to Stills' dad in El Salvador, according to legend, and William Stills forwarded the message to Stephen.

What exactly the elder Stills was doing in El Salvador circa 1965/66 is unknown, but former State Department official William Blum provided some possible clues in his authoritative Killing Hope: "Throughout the 1960s, multifarious American experts occupied themselves in El Salvador by enlarging and refining the state's security and counterinsurgency apparatus: the police, the National Guard, the military, the communications and intelligence networks, the coordination with their counterparts in other Central American countries ... as matters turned out, these were the forces and resources which were brought into action to impose widespread repression and wage war."

Meanwhile, up in Canada, Neil Young and Bruce Palmer were handling guitar and bass duties for the Mynah Birds. Neil Percival Kenneth Ragland Young was born on November 12, 1945, in Toronto to Scott Young, a sportswriter and novelist, and Edna "Rassy" Ragland, a Canadian television personality. Scott Young had spent a considerable amount of time abroad during WWII, first as a journalist and then as a member of the Royal Canadian Navy. Scott's father (Neil's grandfather), like Richie Furay's, had been a pharmacist/drug store owner.

As Einarson recounts, "Neil Young and Stephen Stills had more in common than music. Both had grown up in transient families, Neil's journalist father Scott uprooting his mother Edna 'Rassy,' Neil, and older brother Bob several times during Neil's first fifteen years." Novelists, it would appear, need to move around a lot. Just after his seventeenth birthday, Neil formed his first band, the Squires, and began playing local gigs. According to legend, it was during those early years that Young and Stills first briefly crossed paths up in Canada. That meeting would, a couple years later, allegedly send Young and Palmer-also born in Toronto, to a violinist father and artist mother-off on a cross-country quest to find Stephen Stills.

The Mynah Birds also at one time featured Nick St. Nicholas and Goldie McJohn, both of whom would become members of Steppenwolf. And all the intertwined characters in the preceding narrative- Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Neil Young, Bruce Palmer, John Denver, Don Felder, Nick St. Nicholas, Goldy McJohn, and Peter Tork-would soon find themselves transplanted to Laurel Canyon.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:40 am

15. BEYOND BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD AND THE MONKEES, TOO

"He was great, he was unreal -- really, really good."

"He had this kind of music that nobody else was doing. I thought he really had something crazy, something great. He was like a living poet."

-- Neil Young, sharing his thoughts on Charles Manson


AT THE TIME OF THE LEGENDARY 'SERENDIPITOUS' ENCOUNTER ON SUNSET Boulevard, Stills was living at the home of Barry Friedman, a former circus clown, fire-eater, TV producer and freelance publicist. To say that his home was a bit odd would probably be an understatement. According to folkie Nurit Wilde, "It had a bathtub in the middle of the living room and a secret room behind the bathroom where people carried on liaisons." The massive bathtub sat right in front of the equally massive fireplace. As Friedman himself would later acknowledge, "This was a very strange house."

Not strange by canyon standards, perhaps, but strange nonetheless. Stranger homes can certainly be found, such as in the Holly Mont neighborhood near the base of nearby Beachwood Canyon. One such home is described in the book Haunted Hollywood. The house isn't actually haunted, of course, but it does contain some rather unusual features, as a past owner discovered: "the house's most startling feature-a secret passageway behind a built-in bookshelf he'd discovered during remodeling. It connected to a series of subterranean tunnels linking several houses on the hillside ... While exploring the tunnel beneath his house, Grey found a makeshift grave. The headstone read 'Regina 1922.'"

In Friedman's not-quite-as-strange home, he had taken both Stills and Furay under his wing, providing them with a place to live and rehearse, doling out spending money, and introducing them to various music industry contacts. Friedman had been present when the fabled meeting took place, and it was to his home that the group adjourned after stopping on the Strip. It was also Friedman who found them their drummer, Walter Milton Dwayne Midkiff, otherwise known as Dewey Martin. Though Martin was, like Young and Palmer, Canadian, he had served a stint in the US Army.

Friedman was working for Byrds' manager Jim Dickson, who also managed the Dillards. It was Dickson who hooked Friedman up with Martin, and with a full slate of electric instruments, just as he had set the Byrds up with instruments and a bass player. Dickson and Friedman would soon become neighbors when Friedman moved from his odd house on Fountain Avenue to a home in, naturally enough, Laurel Canyon. That home, on 8524 Ridpath, would become a rather notorious party house. As Jackson Browne, who Friedman later took under his wing, recalled, "It was always open house at Paul Rothchild's and Barry Friedman's."

Barney Hoskyns writes in Hotel California that, "Friedman ... orchestrated scenes of sexual and narcotic depravity that soon spun out of control." Among the regular visitors was "a gaggle of girls who mainly lived at Monkee Peter Tork's house" -which was also in Laurel Canyon, where gaggles of young girls were known to cluster around rock stars, sculptors, and mass murderers. Just a few doors down from Friedman, at 8504 Ridpath, lived Billy James, who also played a behind-the-scenes role in the success of the Byrds. A very young Jackson Browne, fresh from the "imposing Browne family home in the tony, old-money neighborhood of Highland Park," lived with James for a year, during which time Friedman worked to build a band around Browne. Toward that end, he recruited someone else who came from /lold-money," a kid by the name of Ned Doheny.

Curiously, publicist/talent scout James had moved into his Laurel Canyon home in January 1964, a full year before the Byrds recorded the single that started a cultural revolution. Within no time at all, that home would be surrounded by the homes of numerous rock stars. Just another one of those amazing serendipities, I suppose.

Most members of Buffalo Springfield also took up residence in everyone's favorite secluded canyon. Richie Furay initially moved in with Mark Volman of the Turtles, who already had a place up on Lookout Mountain. After marrying in March of 1967, Furay got his own place on the main thoroughfare, Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Neil Young, ever the recluse, found himself what has been described as a /lshack" at 8451 Utica Drive, which was far from actually being a shack. And Stills eventually moved into Peter Tork's home, which was also on Laurel Canyon Boulevard and which once belonged to actor/comedian Wally Cox, a onetime roommate and close friend of fellow canyonite Marlon Brando. It is unclear whether Palmer and Martin took up residence in the canyon.

The band would prove to have a difficult time keeping their lineup intact. Bruce Palmer had a habit of getting himself arrested on a regular basis, usually on drug charges. Some of those arrests led to deportations, since both he and Young were in the country illegally. He never seems to have had much trouble getting back into the country, however, and not too surprisingly, none of his crimes seem to have actually been prosecuted in any meaningful way. He did though go missing on a fairly regular basis. During the band's two-year run, Ken Koblun, Jim Fielder (formerly of Zappa's Mothers of Invention), and Jim Messina all filled in on bass for varying lengths of time. And Doug Hastings filled in for an occasionally absent Neil Young, who had a habit of quitting the band due to ego clashes with the Sarge.

The Springfield's second single, recorded and mixed on December 5, 1966, and written just a couple weeks earlier, was released locally in December 1966 and nationally in early January 1967. It was the group's only hit single and it is remembered today as the quintessential protest song of the 1960s. That song, of course, is For What It's Worth, the opening lines of which kicked off this book. As a protest song, however, it doesn't quite measure up. Despite what is commonly believed today, the song was not a commentary on anti-war demonstrations. Far from it. The event under consideration was the so-called Riot on the Sunset Strip, which involved about 1,000 kids who were demonstrating against the imposition of a curfew and the announcement that a popular club (Pandora's Box, at 8118 Sunset Boulevard) was slated to be closed.

Pandora's was a small coffee shop that featured poetry readings, folk music, and, with the birth of folk-rock, Laurel Canyon bands like Love and Buffalo Springfield. The crowds drawn to the club caused a bit of a problem though, as Pandora's sat on a traffic island at the intersection of Sunset and Crescent Heights (the gateway to Laurel Canyon) and overflow crowds would frequently spill out onto the boulevard, blocking traffic and endangering pedestrians. Even before the problems began, the building had been scheduled to be demolished as part of a planned road-widening project. Nevertheless, the announcement of its closing sparked a demonstration and on the night of November 12, 1966, 200 cops squared off against an estimated 1,000 kids. The LAPD, being the LAPD, began cracking heads and arresting everyone in sight. Protestors responded by throwing rocks, setting a car ablaze, and attempting to ignite a bus. Just one month later, a song commemorating the event was blaring from car radios across the city. Eight months after that, Pandora's was bulldozed.

Even if the song had been about anti-war protests, it still would be an odd choice for a protest song. Lyrics such as "Singing songs and carrying signs, mostly say hooray for our side," seem to largely dismiss the concerns of protestors. And the line "nobody's right if everybody's wrong" seems to suggest that protestors are no better than that which they are protesting against. Another curious irony about the song is that it was authored by Stephen Stills, an authoritarian, law-and-order kind of guy if ever there was one. Stills himself later heaped derision on the very notion of writing protest songs: "We didn't want to do another song like For What It's Worth. We didn't want to be a protest group. That's really a cop-out and I hate that. To sit there and say, '1 don't like this and I don't like that' is just stupid."

While For What It's Worth is now the best-remembered 'protest' song of the 1960s, the most successful one at the time was Barry McGuire's recording of P.F.Sloan's The Eve Of Destruction, which was also a curious choice for a protest song, for reasons best explained by Paul Jones of the band Manfred Mann: "1 think that Barry McGuire must have been paid by the State Department. The Eve Of Destruction protests about nothing. It is simply a 'Thy Doom at Hand' song with no point."

It is probably safe to say that, to most music fans, there is a world of difference between a band like Buffalo Springfield and a band like the Monkees. That perception, however, is not necessarily accurate. As Unterberger has written, "there was not nearly as much gauche commercialism separating the Monkees and the bold Sunset Strip vanguard as is commonly believed. The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and Barry McGuire might have been landing hit records with social protest both gentle and incendiary, but they were tethered to a corporate media establishment in order to deliver those messages. On television's Where the Action Is you could see the Byrds lip-synching The Bells Of Rhymney in front of vacuous, grinning beach bunnies and muscle men cavorting on diving boards and plastic inner tubes. When Buffalo Springfield mimed to For What It's Worth on The Smothers Brothers Show, they suffered the insertion of a shot of Tom Smothers pointing a gun at the camera during the line 'there's a man with a gun over there,' to a burst of uproarious canned laughter."

The parallels between the bands actually ran far deeper than their mutual fondness for cheesy television appearances. Stephen Stills, it will be recalled, auditioned to be a Monkee (as did singer/songwriters Harry Nilsson and Paul Williams). Stills and Tork remained close friends and frequently jammed together at various Laurel Canyon gathering spots. Both Tork and fellow Monkee Mickey Dolenz at times joined the Springfield on stage at various local shows. And Stills, Young and Dewey Martin all sat in on Monkees recording sessions.

On July 2, 1967, guitarist extraordinaire Jimi Hendrix played the Whisky and reportedly blew the roof off the place (figuratively speaking, of course). Shortly thereafter, he moved into Peter Tork's house in Laurel Canyon. By the middle of July, Hendrix had joined the Monkees on tour as their opening act. He was dropped after just a few dates, however, due to the fact that Monkees fans couldn't quite wrap their heads around Jimi's brand of music. Throughout the remainder of the summer of 1967, Stephen and Dewey's Malibu home became the site of informal jam sessions involving Stephen Stills, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, David Crosby, and Peter Tork. All of them ultimately ended up living at Tork's Laurel Canyon spread, which, as previously mentioned, came complete with a gaggle of young groupies who spent an inordinate amount of time lounging around the pool in various states of undress.

Those jam sessions, both in Malibu and Laurel Canyon, were fueled by massive amounts of LSD. According to an anonymous insider interviewed by John Einarson, LSD guru Augustus Owsley Stanley, "used to give Bruce [Palmer] baggies full of acid, a thousand tabs of purple. Somehow he befriended Bruce so we [the band and various hangers-on] never lacked for LSD."

There was yet one more curious tie between the Monkees and the Springfield: while together in Chicago, unnamed members of both bands were allegedly immortalized by the notorious Cynthia Plaster Caster. Our old friend Frank Zappa soon took Cynthia under his wing and relocated her to LA to continue with her important work, just as he had taken the nubile young women who would become the GTOs under his wing. It could reasonably be argued that Zappa did more than anyone to create one of the more peculiar artifacts of the 1960s: the rock'n'roll supergroupie.

The aforementioned Ahmet Ertegun, by the way, played a key role in launching the career of Mr. Zappa, so much so that Frank named one of his sons after him. Meanwhile, Zappa's shady manager, Herb Cohen, "was involved with the [Buffalo Springfield] financially ... Stephen knew Herbie from New York," according to Einarson. The Laurel Canyon crowd, to be sure, was a close-knit group-all the more so because so many of them seem to have known one another before arriving there.

Just a couple of weeks before Jimi's Whisky debut, he had dazzled the crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival, where the band currently under review, Buffalo Springfield, had also played-though by most accounts, not very well. Neil Young was taking one of his leaves-of-absence from the band and Doug Hastings filled in on second lead guitar. In addition, Stills brought his buddy David Crosby out on stage to join the band, which by many accounts was a rather poor decision on Stephen's part. According to bassist Bruce Palmer, "Crosby stunk to high heaven. He didn't know what he was doing ... he was all ego. He came on for forty minutes and embarrassed us." Guitarist Hastings agreed, explaining that Crosby's "problem was that he couldn't play rhythm guitar very well, though he thought he could ... that was one of the reasons why we sounded so bad at Monterey."

After spending the Summer of Love jamming with members of both Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys and the Monkees, Buffalo Springfield hit the road in November 1967 as the opening act for the Beach Boys, a pairing nearly as odd as the Monkees and Jimi Hendrix. Bruce Palmer, whom we have already learned was not one to mince words, had this to say about the Beach Boys as a performing band: "They were real lousy musicians but they had terrific harmony and a name. They were a studio group. On stage it was like the Monkees. They would spend weeks and months in the studio with Brian Wilson perfecting harmonies and overdubs, but you put them on stage and they stunk."

That Beach Boys/Buffalo Springfield tour included a stop, curiously enough, at West Point Military Academy, which isn't really a regular stop on most rock tours. While on the road, the members of the Springfield formed a close bond with Dennis Wilson, a bond that would be built upon in April of 1968 when the Springfield again went out on tour with the Beach Boys. That tour was launched on April 5, almost two years to the day from the fabled meeting that allegedly forged the band. It was the last major tour the group would undertake. Just after returning from that 1968 tour, Dennis Wilson bonded with another local musician, a guy by the name of Charles Manson. When Dennis introduced his new friend Charlie to his buddies in Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young in particular was quite smitten.

On April 28, the band began playing its last series of local shows. On May 5, at the Long Beach Arena, Buffalo Springfield played together as a band for the last time. They had been scheduled to play two shows that day, the first at a venue in Torrance, but that earlier show never materialized. The band released its third and final album, Last Time Around, some three months later. As with albums released nearly simultaneously by the Byrds (Sweetheart of the Rodeo) and the International Submarine Band (Safe at Home), the Springfield's final album is often cited as being a pioneering effort in the creation of the country-rock genre.

That was just one curious shift that occurred in the local music scene. The folk-rock movement, as it turns out, didn't really last very long in its original incarnation. To the contrary, it quickly splintered into three distinct new genres: country-rock, psychedelic rock, and the 'introspective singer-songwriter' school of folk-rock most closely associated with former mental patient James Taylor. None of those musical genres, notably, posed much of a threat to the 'establishment.' The navel-gazers eschewed social concerns in favor of focusing on tales of personal anguish, the acid rockers largely preached the mantra of 'turn on, tune in, drop out,' and the country-rockers largely stuck to traditional-which is to say, quite conservative-country music themes.

Following the breakup of Buffalo Springfield, Richie Furay and sometime bassist Jim Messina went on to form the band Poco. Through various formations, the band was critically acclaimed but never had a great deal of commercial success. Jim Messina ultimately left to become half of Loggins and Messina; his replacement, Randy Meisner, went on to become an Eagle. A guy by the name of Gregg Allman, who played briefly with Poco during its formative days, went on to front the Allman Brothers.

Poco debuted at the Troubadour, which served as the breeding ground for the country-rock movement, in November 1968. The band's first album, Pickin' Up the Pieces, hit the shelves six months later, not long after the release of the debut album by country-rock rivals the Flying Burrito Brothers, formed by former Byrds Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman. Byrd David Crosby, meanwhile, teamed up with Springfield's Stephen Stills and ex-Hollie Graham Nash (who had arrived in Laurel Canyon in December 1968 and quickly found lodging in Joni Mitchell's canyon home) to form a band first known as the Frozen Noses, a name inspired by the trio's fondness for cocaine.

By the late 1960s, the drug that would eventually become the drug of choice of the disco crowd had already begun pouring into Laurel Canyon. As glam-rocker Michael Des Barres recalled, "Every drug dealer was in Laurel Canyon." Along with the drugs came lots of guns and huge piles of cash. Before long, according to Laurel Canyon chronicler Michael Walker, "cocaine became a pseudo-currency, like cigarettes in prison." A decade later, the world would catch a glimpse of that dark canyon undercurrent when four battered bodies were bagged and removed from a house on Wonderland Avenue ... but we've already covered that.

The newest Laurel Canyon band was quickly renamed Crosby, Stills & Nash, and by the summer of 1969 they had the top-selling album in the country. That disc would remain on the charts for an unprecedented two years. When the band got ready to hit the road though, there was a little problem; given that Stills was the only serious musician in the band, and it was he who had played virtually all the instruments on that debut album, it was going to be difficult, as Barney Hoskyns noted, "to translate their layered studio sound to the stage." The solution was, as Einarson has written, to bring Neil Young on board, "to provide more umph to their live sets." And so it was that by the end of the year, CSN had become CSNY.

Now the band just needed a rhythm section. Dallas Taylor, who had played on sessions for the first album, was recruited as a drummer. Stills and Young summoned Bruce Palmer to come down from Canada to handle bass duties. According to Palmer, however, that didn't work out, primarily because once he got to LA and "started rehearsing at Stephen's house with Crosby and Nash, it became real evident that they were nothing but backup singers. They didn't like it and decided to change it. They couldn't take that; they thought they were too big, too famous, too talented. They weren't talented, they were backup singers ... It looked to them as if it was Crosby and Nash backing up Buffalo Springfield, being nothing more than harmony singers for Stephen, Neil, myself, and Dallas Taylor."

According to Palmer, the first CSN album was "ninety-five percent Stephen doing everything and he's got his backup singer boys with him." Considering that Stills composed the majority of the material, played most of the instruments, and produced and arranged the album, Palmer's assessment seems a reasonable one. In any event, CSNY didn't last too long, dissolving after their 1970 tour. Stills next recruited the ubiquitous Chris Hillman to form Manassas, which also proved to be short-lived. Not long after, David Geffen teamed Hillman with Richie Furay and J.D. Souther to create a failed clone of Crosby, Stills & Nash.

The real CSN was not the only new Laurel Canyon band to release a debut album in 1969. Three Dog Night, mentored and first recorded by Beach Boy Brian Wilson, released their self-titled debut in January, and in June, a psychedelic rock band from the LC issued its first LP. Throughout 1968, the band, then known as Nazz, had been a regular presence on the Sunset Strip, where they gained a reputation for being heavy on the theatrics but light on the musicianship. The band was fronted by Vincent Furnier, the boyfriend of Miss Christine of the GTOs. Miss Pamela, aka Pamela Des Barres, described Furnier as "a rich kid from Phoenix." A staunch supporter of the war in Vietnam, Vince would later become a golf partner of notoriously conservative Senator Barry Goldwater.

Furnier would soon change his own name and the name of his band to Alice Cooper, after deciding that he was the reincarnation of a witch who purportedly lived in the seventeenth century. Frank Zappa signed the band, whose debut album, Pretties For You, was the first release on Zappa's Straight label. After transforming into a shock-rock band, the group would hit it big a few years later with the release of School's Out.

Cooper had a curious connection to another rather eccentric canyon character, Mr. Brian Wilson. In later years, both Cooper and Wilson would receive wildly controversial psychiatric treatment from a certain Eugene Landy, who took complete control of Wilson's life for an entire decade. Another star client of Landy's was Academy Award winning actor Gig Young. On October 19, 1978, Young and his fifth wife, Kim Schmidt, were found shot through the head in their New York City apartment. The sixty-four-year-old Young-raised, as would be expected, in Washington, DC-had just married the young art gallery worker three weeks earlier. There was no note found and no one close to the pair could come up with a motive for either to commit suicide, so the incident naturally was written off as a murder/suicide. Young had just taped an episode of the Joe Franklin television show that day and he presumably had given no indication that anything was amiss. The show never aired.

As for the original members of Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills and Neil Young are still known to perform at times. Richie Furay founded the Cavalry Chapel near Boulder, Colorado, and for quite some time served there as senior pastor. Bruce Palmer died of a heart attack on October 1,2004. And Dewey Martin was found dead by his roommate on February 1, 2009. He had been living in a nondescript apartment in Van Nuys, California.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:40 am

16. ALTAMONT PIE GRAM PARSONS

"No one could recall ever seeing or hearing about Gram being involved in a protest of any sort."

-- Author Ben Fong Torres, who interviewed scores of people close to Gram Parsons while researching Hickory Wind


LET'S BEGIN WITH THE OBVIOUS: GRAM PARSONS WAS FAR FROM BEING THE biggest star to emerge from the Laurel Canyon scene. In his short lifetime, he failed to achieve any significant level of commercial success. None of his albums, whether recorded solo or with the International Submarine Band, the Byrds, or the Flying Burrito Brothers, climbed very high on the sales charts. But to many fans and musicians alike, he is considered a hugely influential and tragically overlooked figure.

It is safe to say that Parsons does not have nearly the number of fans that David Crosby or Frank Zappa have, and compared to contemporaries who died during the same era and at roughly the same age-legendary artists like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix-Parsons is all but unknown. His life story, nevertheless, is a fascinating one, primarily because it contains all the classic Laurel Canyon elements: the royal bloodlines, the not-so-well-hidden intelligence connections, the occult overtones, the extravagantly wealthy family background, an incinerated house or two, and, of course, a whole lot of curious deaths.

We begin back about 1,000 years ago, with Ferdinand the Great, the first King of Castille on the Iberian Peninsula. It is to him that the wealthy Connor family claims their family lineage can be traced. Also in the family tree was King Edward II of England, son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castille. According to some sources, Eddie II was murdered by having a red-hot iron rod shoved up his rectum, though most of his loyal subjects probably didn't shed many tears for the hated ruler. Bringing the royal bloodline to America was one Colonel George Reade, born in the UK in 1608 and married in Yorktown, Pennsylvania, sometime thereafter.

Reade's offspring would ultimately spawn Ingram Cecil Connor, Jr., a well-to-do gent who settled in Columbia, Tennessee. Like his father before him, Cecil attended Columbia Military Academy. In May 1940, at the outset of WWII, he enlisted in the US Army Air Force as a Second Lieutenant. In March of 1941, Cecil, who during the war would become known as "Coon Dog" (though no one seems to remember why), was shipped off to Hawaii. Nine months later, Pearl Harbor came under attack by Japanese bombers.

Not to worry though-Cecil was never in harm's way, having opted to forgo living in officer's quarters on the military base in favor of staying at a luxurious, massive estate near Diamond Head owned by wealthy heiress Barbara Hutton. Hutton, for the record, was the granddaughter of Frank Woolworth, the founder of the Woolworth's five-and-dime store chain. She was also the daughter of Franklyn Laws Hutton, co-founder of E.F. Hutton, one of the nation's most prestigious brokerage firms until it ran afoul of the law for such crimes as check kiting, money laundering and mail fraud. Barbara was also the niece of Marjory Post Hutton, the daughter of c.w. Post, founder of what would become General Foods.

Like so many of the other characters who have populated this story, Barbara was traumatized in childhood by the alleged suicide of a parent. According to news reports, it was five-year-old Barbara who discovered her mother Edna's lifeless body in May of 1917. An empty bottle of strychnine was reportedly recovered by police from a nearby bathroom. There was no autopsy performed and no official inquest was ever conducted, as would be expected when an extremely wealthy person dies under questionable circumstances (see, for example, the Ned Doheny story).

In 1930, just after the onset of the Great Depression, Barbara was thrown a lavish debutante ball attended by those at the very top of the food chain, including members of the Astor and Rockefeller families. The next year, she inherited a fortune estimated to be worth the equivalent of $1 billion today. She was just nineteen at the time. Two years later, she received further inheritance that raised her net worth to an estimated $2-2.5 billion in today's money. Much of the rest of the country was busily wallowing in abject poverty.

Ms. Hutton lived a very troubled life, with numerous failed marriages and relationships. One of her many paramours was a gentleman by the name of Phillip van Rensselaer, who later penned a book about her life which he entitled Million Dollar Baby. Van Rensselaer, it will be recalled, was an ancestor of Laurel Canyon's own David Crosby-the man whom Gram Parsons would briefly replace in the Byrds. And that, conveniently enough, brings us back to the subject of this chapter.

As WWII dragged on, Ingram Cecil Connor, Jr. worked his way up the chain of command to the rank of Major. Deployed in the Pacific theater of operations, he was a decorated hero and a squadron commander who flew numerous combat missions. After the war, he continued to serve in the Air Force at a base in Bartow, Florida, very near the Snively family home in Winter Haven. The Snively clan had first come to America circa 1700, about a century after the arrival of the guy who spawned the Connor clan. According to historical records and genealogical charts, Johann Jacob Schnebele, a Swiss Mennonite, was born in 1659. When in his late fifties, around 1715 or shortly thereafter, he ventured across the Atlantic and settled near Cornwall, Pennsylvania. Johann died and was buried in 1743 near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Brought over with him to America was his son Jacob, born on the winter solstice of 1694, and his daughter Maria, born in 1702. In 1724, in Mannheim, Pennsylvania, Maria Schnebele married the son of immigrants Hans Hersche and Anna Geunder. That son had Americanized his name and become known as Andrew Hershey. The Schnebele name was likewise Americanized to Snavely (or Snively). The Hershey and Snavely clans would continue to happily intermarry, ultimately producing, in 1857, Milton Snavely Hershey, the son of Henry Hershey and Fanny Snavely.

Milton S. Hershey, of course, would go on to found the world's largest producer of chocolate confections. Less well known is that Hershey failed miserably in his first several attempts to launch a candy company, first in Philadelphia, then in Chicago, and finally in New York City. All of those ventures were financed with Snively/Snavely family money. Hershey ultimately succeeded in launching the successful Lancaster Caramel Company in 1883. In 1900, he sold the caramel company to focus exclusively on chocolate confections. With proceeds from that sale, he purchased 40,000 acres of undeveloped land and built not only the world's largest chocolate facility, but an entire company town as well.

As for Maria's brother, Jacob Schnebele, he died in August of 1766 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, but not before fathering an astounding nineteen children. One of those was son Andrew, who himself fathered fourteen kids. From that branch of the family tree would emerge John Andrew "Papa John" Snively, who headed off to Florida in the early 1900s to seek his fortune. By the 1950s, Snively Groves was the largest shipper of fresh fruit in the state of Florida.

Avis Snively, who exchanged vows with Ingram Cecil Connor, Jr. on March 22, 1945, was the daughter of Papa John. On November 5, 1946, Coon Dog and Avis gave birth to their first child and only son, Ingram Cecil Connor III, later known as Gram Parsons. Soon after, the family relocated to Waycross, Georgia, where, as with Winter Haven, the Snively family owned a massive amount of land devoted to citrus fruit production. It was there that young Ingram "Gram" Connor was raised.

The Connor family home in Waycross, as would be expected, was large and luxurious and there were numerous servants in attendance, all of whom had considerably more skin pigmentation than did the Connors. Coon Dog and Avis entertained frequently and both were well known to be heavy drinkers; there were hushed rumors that they were 'swingers' as well. As Gram's younger sister, known as Little Avis, would later recall, "Things were mighty strange around the house."

In September of 1957, when Gram was not yet eleven, he was sent off to attend the Bowles School, a combination prep school and military academy in Jacksonville, Florida. While attending Bowles, he became a member of the Centurions, the school's version of an elite fraternity. The following year, just before Christmas 1958, Ingram Cecil "Coon Dog" Connor, Jr. was found sprawled across his bed in the family home, a bullet hole in his right temple. A .38-caliber handgun was found nearby. There was no note to be found. Cecil's brother Tom had visited just the month before, around Thanksgiving, and Coon Dog had told him that he'd never been happier and that life with Avis was wonderful. Curiously, his death was initially ruled to be accidental but the cause of death was later changed to suicide.

Just ten months before Cecil's death, Papa John Snively, Avis' dad, had also died, so she suddenly found herself with both of the men in her life gone. And yet, according to a family member, she never appeared to grieve and she displayed a "total lack of remorse" over anything she may have done to drive Coon Dog to allegedly commit suicide (by some reports, she had been having an affair). Some six months after Cecil's death, Avis, Gram and Little Avis boarded a train for a cross-country trip. They were gone the entire summer. Not long after returning, the family moved from the house that Cecil had died in and Avis soon met Robert Ellis Parsons, who owned a business that ostensibly specialized in leasing heavy construction equipment. Parsons' clients, curiously enough, happened to be in Cuba, then under the brutal hand of Batista, and in various South American countries that were also under the thumb of US-installed dictators.

The Snively clan took an immediate dislike to Parsons, who was described by one family member as a "greedy son of a bitch." Nevertheless, Avis quickly married him and Bob Parsons quickly took control of her life. One of his first moves was to adopt Gram and Avis, even going so far as to have new birth certificates drawn up listing him as their biological father (though it remains unclear exactly how he could have done that). He also promptly impregnated Avis and convinced her to file a $1.5 million lawsuit against her brother, John, Jr., and her sister, Evalyn. The suit was settled out of court with Avis receiving an unspecified number of citrus groves, but the real repercussions would be felt some fifteen years later with the bankruptcy of much of the family business in 1974.

In 1960, just a year after marrying, Bob and Avis added daughter Diane to the family. Also added was eighteen-year-old babysitter Bonnie, whom Bob immediately began an affair with, which apparently was not a very well-kept secret. What was a somewhat better kept secret is that, in the early 1960s, following the Cuban revolution, Robert Ellis Parsons became involved in what was referred to as the 'Cuban cause,' which is to say that he had very close ties to the leaders of an exile group that was being trained in Polk County, Florida, to overthrow the Cuban government. On at least one occasion, he brought young Gram along to visit the group's training camp. As luck would have it, a team from Life magazine happened to also be there that day and Gram was photographed at the camp. When Avis was informed of that development, she worked quickly to insure that those photos were never published. To this day, they have never surfaced.

During that same era, Bob Parsons converted a downtown warehouse that he owned into a teen nightclub to showcase the talents of his 'son,' Ingram "Gram" Parsons, who sang and played keyboards and the guitar. Circa 1963, Gram got a folk combo together that was known as the Shilos. During the summer of 1964, the summer before Gram's senior year of high school, the band spent a month in New York. During that brief time, Parsons, as fate would have it, met and bonded with Brandon DeWilde, Richie Furay, and John Phillips. He would meet up with all three again a couple years later in Laurel Canyon.

Despite having expressed an early preference for Annapolis or West Point, Gram applied to Harvard and Johns Hopkins. And despite decidedly unimpressive grades and test scores, he was accepted by Harvard, purportedly due to an essay he submitted that he likely didn't actually write. During his last year of high school, Gram and the Shilos booked an hour-long gig at the campus radio station at, of all places, Bob Jones University. At his high school graduation in June of 1965, Gram was in his cap and gown and all set to proceed with the ceremonies when he was pulled aside and informed that his mother Avis had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Seemingly unaffected by the news, he chose to participate in the ceremonies. A classmate and friend has said that there was no sign that anything was troubling Gram that day as he went through the graduation rituals.

Avis had died in the hospital, reportedly of alcohol poisoning, right after Bob Parsons had smuggled her in a bottle of scotch. Gram's mother was just forty-two at the time of her death. His father, Coon Dog, had only made it to the age of forty-one. Neither of their kids, Gram or Little Avis, would make it even that far.

Soon after his mother's death, Gram received a draft notice from the Selective Service. Not to worry though-Bob quickly got him a 4-F deferment and Gram happily went off to Harvard, enrolling in September of 1965. By February of 1966, just five months later, Gram had had enough of Harvard and he withdrew. According to some sources, he never really attended school at all, but rather spent all his time taking in the folk music scene in Cambridge and putting his own band together. Gram arrived at Harvard a few years too late to catch that scene at its peak. In the early 1960s, the college town had been one of the cradles of the resurgent folk movement, hosting such luminaries as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Bob Neuwirth, Tom Rush, Pete Seeger, Richard and Mimi Farina, Geoff and Maria Muldaur, Eric Andersen and Joni Mitchell.

The epicenter of the Cambridge folk scene was the legendary Club 47, opened in 1958 as a jazz and blues venue. A very young Joan Baez, whose reputedly CIA-connected father worked at nearby MIT, was the first folkie to take the stage, not long after the club opened. Dylan reportedly first performed there in 1961, taking the stage between the billed acts. The scene hit its peak in the summer of 1962, which was the Cambridge equivalent of the Haight's Summer of Love. The Cambridge scene, and others in Greenwich Village and elsewhere, were necessary precursors to the Laurel Canyon scene, which was essentially created by taking the music of that earlier scene, particularly the work of Dylan and Seeger, and mixing it with the instrumentation being utilized across the pond by a band known as the Beatles. It is entirely fitting then that, as with Laurel Canyon, the Cambridge scene came complete with its own resident psycho killer.

In addition to the folk scene hitting its peak in the summer of 1962, something else newsworthy happened in Cambridge that summer: a lot of women started turning up dead-six of them in that first summer alone, and seven more over the next couple of years. And as Susan Kelly noted in The Boston Stranglers, one of those victims was killed right across the street from Club 47: "Just across the street from [victim Beverly Samans'] apartment, a very young and not yet famous Joan Baez and an equally youthful and unknown Bob Dylan were playing to reverently hushed audiences at the Club 47."

As the title of Kelly's book implies, there actually was no such person as the Boston Strangler, but that didn't stop authorities and the media from pinning all the murders on one Albert DeSalvo, far better known as the Boston Strangler. Just as Laurel Canyon would have Charles Manson as its unofficial mascot, the earlier scene in Cambridge had Albert DeSalvo. Cambridge had something else that Laurel Canyon would later have-Paul Rothchild, who worked at Club 47 and went on to produce the Doors.

Folkie Richard Farina, by the way, was the husband of Mimi Baez, Joan's younger sister. Farina had attended Cornell University as an engineering major. Cornell also happened to be where Joan and Mimi's dad, Albert Baez, conducted classified research. Albert Baez tended to move around a lot, popping up for varying periods of time at Stanford, UC Berkeley, Cornell, and MIT, all of which have been revealed through declassified documents as hotbeds of MK-ULTRA research. Albert Baez also traveled abroad, to France, Switzerland, and, in 1951, to Baghdad, Iraq, where he spent a year purportedly teaching physics and building a physics laboratory at the University of Baghdad. Nineteen-fifty-one also happened to be the year that Mossadegh was duly elected in neighboring Iran and the CIA immediately began planning a coup to oust him, but I'm sure that that is just a coincidence.

Anyway, Farina married Mimi when he was twenty-six and she was just seventeen. The two of them, along with Joan, became stars of the Cambridge folk music scene, which they were introduced to when Albert Baez moved the family to Boston in 1958 when he went to work at MIT. Richard and Mimi's marriage was a short one, alas, as Richard Farina was killed in a motorcycle accident in Carmel, California, on, of all days, April 30, 1966. On that very same day, in nearby San Francisco, Anton Szandor LaVey declared it to be the dawn of the Age of Satan.

But perhaps I've gotten sidetracked here ...

During Gram's brief time at Harvard, he began gathering together what would become the International Submarine Band. When he dropped out in early 1966, he and his new bandmates moved to the Bronx in New York, where Gram rented an eleven-room party house where marijuana and LSD flowed freely. One unofficial member of his band was child-actor-turned-aspiring-musician Brandon DeWilde, known in the 1950s as "the king of child actors." Parsons and DeWilde worked together on demo tapes during their time in New York.

In November/December 1966, nine months after leaving Harvard for New York, Gram ventured out to California. While there he met a certain Nancy Ross, who at the time was living with David Crosby. In Ben Fong-Torres' Hickory Wind, Ross provides some interesting biographical details: "1 grew up with David Crosby here in town ... I was thirteen when we met. David and I were part of the debutante set ... My father was a captain in the Royal Air Force of England ... I married Eleanor Roosevelt's grandson, Rex, at sixteen, seventeen. I was still married to Rex when I was with David ... The marriage lasted a couple of years. I got an apartment and started designing restaurants for Elmer Valentine of Whisky-a- Go-Go."

At age nineteen, Ross went with Crosby "up to his little bachelor apartment, where I drew pentagrams on the wall." Soon after, Crosby bought a house on Beverly Glen and Ross moved in with him. That is where Gram Parsons found Nancy Ross and stole her away from David Crosby: "Brandon DeWilde, who was a good friend of David's and Peter Fonda's, brought Gram up to our Beverly Glen house one Christmas time." According to Nancy, Gram quickly stole her heart. Shortly after, in early 1967, Parsons permanently relocated to Los Angeles with his band in tow. According to Fong-Torres, Gram-who received up to $100,000 a year from his trust fund, a considerable amount of money in the mid- 1960s-"found a house for the rest of the band on Willow Glen Avenue, off Laurel Canyon Boulevard and just north of Sunset." He and Nancy found an apartment together nearby.

Meanwhile, back home, Bob Parsons had married Bonnie shortly after the death of Avis, and the newlywed couple had then moved with Little Avis and Diane to New Orleans. Back in Waycross, the Connor family home that had been abandoned after Coon Dog's alleged suicide had been occupied since 1960 by the family of Sheriff Robert E. Lee (and no, 1'm not making that up). In late 1968, on the eve of the election that put Richard Nixon in the White House, the stately home exploded from within and caught fire. The cause of the explosion was never determined.

Once ensconced in the hills above Los Angeles, Gram Parsons and his band began recording what would prove to be their only album, Safe at Home, which some pop music historians regard as the first country-rock album, but others regard as a straight country album performed by guys who look like they should be playing in a rock band. Whatever the case, by the time the album was released, in 1968, Gram had disbanded the International Submarine Band and unofficially joined the Byrds, replacing the recently departed David Crosby, who had determined that there just wasn't quite room in the band for both he and his ego.

Parsons' time with the Byrds was rather brief, just four to five months, after which he was replaced by virtuoso guitarist Clarence White, who had been part of the Cambridge folk scene. Despite his brief tenure, Parsons is credited with having a major influence on the album that the band produced during that period, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Soon after leaving the Byrds, Parsons ran into Richie Furay, who was casting about for a new band after the breakup of Buffalo Springfield. Gram and Furay considered working together but quickly realized that they wanted to go in different musical directions, so Furay went to work putting Poco together while Parsons assembled the Flying Burrito Brothers. By 1969, Gram's new band had taken shape, with Gram supplying lead vocals and guitar, Chris Hillman also on guitar, Chris Etheridge on bass, and "Sneaky Pete" Kleinow on pedal steel guitar. With various other local musicians sitting in, the band recorded and released The Gilded Palace of Sin. Byrd Michael Clarke would later join the band, as would soon-tobe- Eagle Bernie Leadon.

Also in 1969, late in the year, twenty-three-year-old Gram hooked up with sixteen-year-old Gretchen Burrell. His new love interest was the daughter of high-profile news anchor Larry Burrell, who was very well-connected in Hollywood. Before long, Gretchen had moved into Parsons' place at the notorious Chateau Marmont Hotel, with her parents' blessings-because most wealthy parents, I would think, want their teenage daughter living in a debauched rock star's drug den. Another guest at the hotel at that same time, incidentally, was Rod Stewart, at whose home one of the victims of the so-called Sunset Strip Killers would later be last seen.

At the tail end of 1969, Parsons and his fellow Burrito Brothers had the dubious distinction of playing as one of the opening acts at the Rolling Stones' infamous free show at Altamont Speedway. Gram had become a very close confidant of the Stones, particularly Keith Richards, and he would later be credited with being the inspiration for the country flavor evident on the Stones' Let it Bleed album.

Parsons had first met up with the Stones when they were in Los Angeles in the summer of 1968 to mix their Beggar's Banquet album. Also hooking up with the Stones around that same time was Phil Kaufman, who once boasted that he had slept with everyone of the convicted murderesses in the Manson Family. Kaufman initially lived with Charlie and his girls after being released from prison in March of 1968, and he thereafter remained what Kaufman himself described as a "sympathetic cousin" to Manson. He also went to work as the Rolling Stones' road manager for their 1969 American tour, which is the type of job apparently best filled by ex-convict friends of Charles Manson.

In late summer of 1969, following the curious death of Brian Jones in July, the Stones were back in LA to complete their Let It Bleed album and prepare for yet another tour. According to Ben Fong-Torres, writing in Hickory Wind, "Mick and Keith stayed at Stephen Stills' house near Laurel Canyon ... Before Stills, the house had been occupied by Peter Tork of the Monkees." For the record, other reports hold that that house was in, not near, Laurel Canyon.

On December 6, 1969, temporary Laurel Canyon residents Mick and Keith, along with permanent Laurel Canyon residents Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Flying Burrito Brothers, all gathered at a desolate speedway known as Altamont to stage a free concert. By the time it was over, four people were dead and another 850 concertgoers were injured to varying degrees, mostly by members of the Hell's Angels swinging leaded pool cues. The Angels had, of course, been hired by the Stones to ostensibly provide security. That decision is almost universally cast as an innocent mistake on the part ofthe band, though such a claim is difficult to believe. It was certainly no secret that the reactionary motorcycle clubs, formed by former military men, were openly hostile to hippies and anti-war activists; as early as 1965, they had brutally attacked peaceful anti-war demonstrators while police, who had courteously allowed the Angels to pass through their line, looked on. It was also known that the Angels were heavily involved in trafficking meth, a drug that was widely blamed for the ugliness that had descended over the Haight.

Perhaps less well known was that more than a few of the biker gangs of the 1960s had uncomfortably close ties to Charlie Manson, particularly a club known as the Straight Satans, one of whose members, Danny DeCarlo, served as the Family's sergeant-at-arms, watching over Charlie's arsenal of weapons. DeCarlo also, by some reports, had close ties to the Process. At least one of the performers taking the stage at Altamont, curiously enough, also had close ties to some of the outlaw biker gangs; as was revealed in his autobiography, Crosby "had friends in every Bay Area chapter of the Hell's Angels."

The death that the concert at Altamont will always be remembered for is that of Meredith Hunter, the young man who was stabbed to death by members of the Hell's Angels right in front of the stage while the band (in this case, the Rolling Stones) played on. The song they were playing, contrary to most accounts of the incident, was the Process-inspired Sympathy For The Devil, as was initially reported in Rolling Stone based on the accounts of several reporters on the scene and a review of the unedited film stock.

Most accounts claim that Hunter was killed while the band performed Under My Thumb, but all such claims appear to be based on the mainstream snuff film Gimme Shelter, in which the killing was deliberately presented out of sequence. In the absence of any alternative filmic versions of Hunter's death, the Maysles brothers' film became the default official orthodoxy. Not well known is that someone went to great lengths to insure that there would be only one available version of events; as Rolling Stone reported, shortly after the concert, "One weird Altamont story has to do with a young Berkeley filmmaker who claims to have gotten 8MM footage of the killing. He got home from the affair Saturday and began telling his friends about his amazing film. His house was knocked over the next night, completely rifled. The thief took only his film, nothing else."

Contrary to the impression created by Gimme Shelter, Hunter was killed not long into the Stones' set. But as the film's editor, Charlotte Zwerin, explained to Salon.com some thirty years later, the climax of the movie always has to come at the end: "We're talking about the structure of a film. And what kind of concert film are you going to be able to have after somebody has been murdered in front of the stage? Hanging around for another hour would have been really wrong in terms of the film." What wasn't wrong, apparently, was deliberately altering the sequence of events in what was ostensibly a documentary film.

One of the young cameramen working for the Maysles brothers that day, as it turns out, was a guy by the name of George Lucas. (It is unclear whether it was Lucas who captured the conveniently unobstructed footage of the murder.) Not long after, Lucas would begin a meteoric rise to the very top of the Hollywood food chain. He would be joined there by another film director by the name of Steven Spielberg; the two of them would emerge as arguably the most critically acclaimed and influential filmmakers of their generation. Just as the second wave of Laurel Canyon bands, with names like the Eagles and CSN, would transform the music industry from a community of artists into a vast money-making machine-ushering in the era of stadium concerts, multi-million selling albums and unprecedented profits-Spielberg and Lucas would perform a similar trick with the film business, producing blockbusters like ET, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Jaws and Star Wars. It seems perfectly natural then that in the mid- to late-1960s, USC film student Spielberg was living on Lookout Mountain in Laurel Canyon.

Many of the accounts of the tragedy at Altamont include the dubious claim that Hunter can unmistakably be seen drawing a gun just before being jumped and killed by the Angels. Some accounts even have Hunter firing the alleged gun. What can certainly be fairly clearly seen is the large knife being brought down into Hunter's back, but the footage is ambiguous at best as far as Hunter allegedly brandishing a gun. The Angel who was charged with the murder and then ultimately acquitted, Alan David Passaro, was found floating facedown in a reservoir in March of 1985 with $10,000 in his pocket. Despite a widespread belief to the contrary, Passaro's acquittal was not based on the jury having been convinced that Hunter had drawn a gun, but rather on the fact that the knife wounds that killed Hunter were apparently upstrokes, which meant that they were not the wounds inflicted on-camera by Passaro; someone else continued to stab Hunter after he was down, and it was those wounds, which the cameras didn't clearly record, that killed him.

About one year after Altamont, otherwise obscure singer/songwriter Don McLean penned the lyrics to what was destined to become one of the most iconic songs in the annals of popular music: American Pie. Those lyrics are essentially a chronological recitation of various tragedies that shaped the world of popular music. Not long after a reference to the August 1969 Manson murders and their connection to the Laurel Canyon music scene, and just before a reference to the October 1970 death of Janis Joplin, can be found the following verse in which McLean characterized the death of Hunter as a ritualized murder, with Mick Jagger in the role of Satan:

"And there we were, all in one place, a generation Lost in Space / With no time left to start again / So, come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack Flash sat on a Candlestick, 'cause ... / Fire is the Devil's only friend / Oh, and as I watched him on the stage, my hands were clenched in fists of rage / No angel born in hell, could break that Satan's spell / And as the flames climbed high into the night, to light the sacrificial rite / I saw Satan laughing with delight, the day the music died."

As was the custom with big events in the mid- to late-1960s, particularly in the northern California area, Altamont was drenched in acid. And as was also the custom at that time, that acid was provided free-of-charge by Mr. Augustus Owsley Stanley III, also known as The Bear. At the so-called "Human Be-In" staged in January of 1967, for example, Owsley had kindly distributed 10,000 tabs of potent LSD. For the Monterey Pop Festival just five months later, he had cooked up and distributed 14,000 tabs. For Altamont, he did likewise. Also present that day, and featured in the Maysles brothers' film gyrating atop a raised platform near the stage, was the King of the Freaks himself, Vito Paulekas.

Along with Mick and the boys, Gram Parsons made a hasty exit from the chaos at Altamont via the Stones' private helicopter. The next year, his Flying Burrito Brothers released their second album, Burrito Deluxe, which was produced by Jim Dickson, the man who had played such a pivotal role in shaping Laurel Canyon's first band, the Byrds. By June, Parsons had been booted out of the band, reportedly due to chronic alcohol and drug abuse. He quickly signed with A&M Records and was partnered with Terry Melcher. Gram soon became a regular visitor to Melcher's Benedict Canyon home, where the self-destructive pair worked on songs together, with Gram on guitar and Melcher on piano. John Phillips became a close associate of Parsons at that time as well.

Meanwhile, sister Avis had been institutionalized back in New Orleans. She had gotten pregnant, after which Bob Parsons had moved quickly to have her committed and to have her marriage annulled. Little Avis reached out repeatedly to big brother Gram for help, but got none.

In late October of 1970, Gram went to A&M and signed out the master tapes of ten songs that he had recorded with Melcher; those tapes were never seen or heard again, as seems to happen from time-to-time with recordings made with Melcher. During roughly that same period of time, Parsons was busted with a briefcase full of prescription drugs. As would be expected, however, the charges were quietly dropped and Gram walked away unscathed.

In 1971, Gram married Gretchen Burrell. The lavish affair was held, curiously enough, at the New Orleans home of step-dad Bob Parsons, a fact that has left Gram's chroniclers somewhat puzzled. Bob Parsons was, after all, the man who had-at least in the eyes of many family members-terrorized and institutionalized Gram's younger sister, carried on a scandalous affair with the family's babysitter, murdered Gram's mother and subsequently married that babysitter, and repeatedly looted the family coffers. And yet it was Bob Parsons, of all people, who Gram trusted to host his wedding, suggesting a bond between the two that would seem to defy conventional explanations.

That same year, Gram spent some time in France, hanging out once again with the Rolling Stones. The following year he was signed to Reprise Records by Mo Ostin and he and Gretchen moved back into the Chateau Marmont, where Gram and Emmylou Harris, who had been raised on various military bases in Virginia, began working on the songs that would make up his first solo album. In 1973, with that first solo album, entitled simply GP, due for release, "Gram and Gretchen finally moved out of the Chateau Marmont and found a cozy brown wood-shingled house on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, which wound its way north from Hollywood through the stars' favorite canyon," as recounted by Fong-Torres.

Together again with Emmylou, Gram began working on tracks for what would be his posthumously released second solo album, Grievous Angel. But as July of 1973 rolled around, a series of tragedies befell Parsons and the people around him. In July of the previous year, Gram's friend Brandon DeWilde-who had introduced Gram to Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Bruce Dern and Jack Nicholson, resulting in Gram's involvement in The Trip-had been killed in a traffic accident. A year later, on July 15, 1973, Gram's friend and fellow musician, Clarence White, was hit by a car and killed. According to Fong-Torres, "Around the same time that Clarence White was killed, Sid Kaiser, a familiar face in the Los Angeles rock scene, a close friend of Gram's and, not so incidentally, a source of high-quality drugs, died of a heart attack." Just after those two deaths, ''In late July 1973 ... [Gram's] house in laurel Canyon burned down."

Other sources, for the record, have placed that house in Topanga Canyon rather than laurel Canyon. Whatever the case, Gram was home when the house caught fire and he was briefly hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Having lost their home and all their possessions, Gram and Gretchen "moved into Gretchen's father's spacious home on Mulholland Drive in laurel Canyon." Gram wouldn't live in the Burrell estate long though; on September 19, 1973, Ingram Cecil Connor III died in a nondescript room at the Joshua Tree Inn. His death is usually attributed to a drug overdose, but toxicology reports suggest otherwise. Parsons' death received minimal press coverage, partly because, as fate would have it, singer/songwriter Jim Croce went down in a blaze of glory the very next day, on September 20, 1973. But though the media had moved on, the Gram Parsons story wasn't quite over yet.

Parsons had been a regular visitor to Joshua Tree National Park, where one of his favorite pastimes was said to be ingesting hallucinogenic drugs and then searching for UFOs. Sometimes he would take friends like Keith Richards along with him to help with the search. In September of 1973, Gram was accompanied to Joshua Tree by his personal assistant, Michael Martin, Martin's girlfriend, Dale McElroy, and Parsons' former high school sweetheart, Margaret Fisher. As the story goes, the group soon ran out of pot and quickly dispatched Martin back to LA to pick up a fresh supply. He was, therefore, officially not there at the time of Gram's death, though why he hadn't returned has never been explained, especially given that his job was, specifically, to keep an eye on Gram and monitor his drug intake.

How Gram Parsons died is anyone's guess. There are as many versions of the event as there were witnesses to it. Actually, that's not quite true-there are more versions than there were witnesses, because some of those witnesses have told more than one story. Officially, Parsons died of an overdose, but forensic testing revealed no morphine or barbiturates in his blood. Morphine showed up in his liver and urine, but as experts have noted, those toxicology results indicate chronic, but not recent, use. Police seem to have had little interest in getting at the truth and made no apparent effort to reconcile the various conflicting accounts. Details of the incident-such as how long Gram had been left alone, whether he was still alive when discovered, who made that discovery, etc.-were wildly inconsistent in the accounts of Fisher, McElroy, and Frank and Alan Barbary (the Inn's owner and his son). The Barbarys' accounts conflicted both with each other and with the girls' accounts.

At the hospital, police spoke briefly with the two girls and then released them. Within two hours, Phil Kaufman was on the scene to pick up Fisher and McElroy. Bypassing the police and the hospital, Kaufman went directly to the Inn, which the girls had returned to, and quickly hustled them straight back to LA. Police never spoke to either of the women again, despite the conflicting accounts and the open question of what exactly it was that killed Gram.

On the autumnal equinox of 1973, Kaufman and Martin, driving a dilapidated hearse provided by McElroy, arrived at LAX to claim the body of Gram Parsons. If this story is to be believed, then nobody, including the police officer who was nearby, found it at all unusual that two drunken, disheveled men in an obviously out-of-service hearse (it had no license plates and several broken windows) had arrived without any paperwork to claim the body of a deceased celebrity. In fact, according to Kaufman's dubious account, the cop even helped the pair load the casket into the hearse-and then looked the other way when Martin slammed the hearse into a wall on the way out of the hangar.

Kaufman and Martin then drove the body back out to Joshua Tree, doused it with gasoline and set it ablaze. Local police initially speculated that the cremation was "ritualistic," which indeed it was, but such reports were, and continue to be, scoffed at.

On September 26, LAPD detectives, led by anchorman Larry Burrell, came knocking on Kaufman's door with warrants to serve. Bizarrely enough, director Arthur Penn was there with a full crew shooting scenes for the film Night Moves with star Gene Hackman. When you are a friend of Charlie Manson's, it would appear, everyone in Hollywood wants to hang out with you. While the crew continued working, Kaufman was taken in by police but he was back just a few hours later. In the end, he and Martin were fined $300 each plus reimbursement for the cost of the coffin.

In January 1974, four months after Parsons' death, Grievous Angel was released to critical acclaim and public indifference. Later that year, Gram's adoptive father, Bob Parsons, died from complications of an alcohol- related illness. He had apparently been making moves aimed at gaining control of the deceased musician's estate. By sheer coincidence, no doubt, the deaths of Gram and Bob Parsons were followed by the 1974 bankruptcy of much of the Snively family business. Around that same time, Little Avis gave birth to daughter Flora. Sixteen years later, both were killed in a boating accident in Virginia. Avis had made it all the way to age forty.
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