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 4:42 am


"In later years, toward the end, he would have really bad nightmares. He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming ... "

-- Kai Clark, Gene Clark's son

IN MANY WAYS, THE GENE CLARK STORY READS A LOT LIKE THE GRAM Parsons story. Both were considered by their peers to be among Laurel Canyon's brightest stars, yet both are now largely forgotten. Both of their lives were cut tragically short (though Clark lived considerably longer than Parsons). Both of their deaths were overshadowed to some extent by unusual events that occurred just after their passing. Both were considered pioneers of the country-rock genre. Both played for a time with the Byrds. Both recorded duets with Emmylou Harris, and both employed many of the same musicians on their various solo projects. Both had legions of female admirers. Both had a keen interest in UFOs and believed in alien visitations. And both were notorious drug and alcohol abusers.

Harold Eugene Clark was born on November 17, 1944, in Tipton, Missouri, though the year of his birth was frequently reported as 1941. It seems quite likely that Gene Clark himself was the source of that erroneous biographical detail, to avoid questions about the fact that his alleged father was actually overseas for all of 1944.

Tipton is a small town-the kind of town where everyone knows one another by name. In fact, Tipton is kind of like a big park where the same oversized family reunion is held every day of the year. As Bonnie Clark Laible told author John Einarson, "When I was in Tipton, Missouri, the year my grandfather died, in 1954, I found out I was related to almost everyone in the community. Everyone had married people they knew through the various families like Faherty and Sommerhauser. I couldn't throw a stone without hitting a family member!"

Tipton was founded by Mr. William Tipton Seely, a rather wealthy and influential gent who opened a general store circa 1830. A community soon sprang up around his store, as tended to happen in those days, and Seely named his new little fiefdom Round Hill. A decade or so later, in the 1840s, a group of German immigrant families arrived in the area-the Nieuffers, the Lutzs, the Kammerichs, the Schmidts, the Hoens, the Shrecks and the Sommerhausers. Those families proceeded to intermarry to a rather extreme degree.

In the 1850s, Seely lobbied hard to have both the Pacific Railroad and the Butterfield Overland Mail route pass through his little kingdom. Those efforts proved successful, though the railroad was routed a few miles north of Round Hill. Around that new railroad station was born Seely's second town, tiny Tipton, where Gene Clark would spend the early years of his life.

Meanwhile, just before 1800, a group of Irish families led by a Mr. Edmund Faherty settled in southwestern Illinois. In addition to the Fahertys, the group included the Whelans, the O'Haras and the O'Neilis. These families also proceeded to intermarry. Some factions of the family eventually crossed over the border into Perryville, Missouri, where they became slave owners. James and Helena Faherty split from the rest of the Missouri herd and moved to Cole Camp, not too far southwest of Tipton. According to chronicler Einarson, the move was recommended by a "priest who feared too much inbreeding among the families."

Oscar Faherty, Gene Clark's maternal grandfather, was born and raised near Tipton, as was the woman who was to be his wife and Gene's grandmother, Rosemary Sommerhauser. Before long, the Fahertys and the Sommerhausers were intermarrying at a furious pace. According to Bonnie Clark, "The Faherty and Sommerhauser families had double cousins going on." On the summer solstice of 1920, Rosemary Sommerhauser Faherty gave birth to Mary Jeanne Faherty, Gene Clark's mother. After completing elementary school, Mary Jeanne was sent away to work as a "domestic servant" for an unnamed wealthy family living near Kansas City, Kansas. The Depression years were pretty rough, from what I hear, but selling off your barely teenage daughter seems a bit harsh.

The other half of Gene Clark's family tree is, curiously enough, shrouded in mystery and secrecy. As chronicler Einarson notes, "Unlike Jeanne Faherty Clark's well-documented family history, the lineage of Gene's father, Kelly George Clark, is far more murky and mysterious." Indeed, Einarson's extensive research turned up little more than the fact that Kelly Clark was born on November 11, 1918, in Lenexa, Kansas, and that, according to family lore, there might be Native American blood in the family tree that has been concealed. Or maybe Pop Clark's history is murky for other reasons.

What is known is that Kelly Clark apparently quit high school and went to work for the parks department as a groundskeeper. While tending the grounds at the Milburn Country Club, he met young Jeanne Faherty, who apparently was taken there fairly frequently by her employers- because most wealthy people, it seems reasonable to conclude, take their young servants with them to the country club. After a relatively brief courtship, the two married on May 29, 1941, and promptly started a family.

Bonnie Clark was born on March 13, 1942, just over nine months after the couple exchanged vows. Kelly Katherine was to be the couple's second child, but she was, alas, reportedly stillborn on the summer solstice of 1943. Nothing suspicious about that. Nor about the peculiar fact that, while Gene and other members of the family would be laid to rest in the 50mmerhauser family plot at St. Andrews cemetery in Tipton, "Kelly Katherine's is a solitary stone at the far south end of the cemetery," as recounted by John Einarson in Mr. Tambourine Man.

A few months after Kelly Katherine Clark's curious death, Kelly George Clark was called up for radio and gunnery school. Following training, he was assigned to a unit that served as General George Patton's mop-up crew. Clark's team landed at LeHavre, France, and steadily made their way towards Germany. By May of 1945, immediately following the fall of the Third Reich, Clark was in Berlin. Meanwhile, the third Clark child, Gene, was born in November 1944. Officially, Jeanne Clark was impregnated while her husband was briefly home on leave, presumably in February 1944, though it seems very unlikely that he would have been at home at that time. In any event, Gene spent the first years of his life in a house at 304 Morgan Street, directly across the street from a funeral home.

Kelly Clark returned home at the end of WWII and promptly impregnated his wife once again; Nancy Patricia Clark was born on July 19, 1946. The family would continue to grow until there were no fewer than ten Clark siblings, all living in a tiny house far off the beaten path. As a former classmate and friend told Einarson, "You had to take a dirt road up and it was the only house back in the woods, way up high. I couldn't believe the first time Gene took me there ... It was kind of spooky in a way." As sister Bonnie has acknowledged, the Clarks "were known as a very strange family in the community." That may have had something to do with the family's rather unusual choice of recreational activities, such as throwing knives at laundry detergent boxes: "Gene was very good at it. We both were. This was one of the things we did as a family function," noted Bonnie.

Gene would have a lifelong fascination with knives-and guns. According to friend Joe Larson, after Clark began making money with the Byrds, he "started buying guns." In the cover photo for one of Gene's solo albums, he is sitting on a picnic table. As brother Rick Clark has noted, "there are bullet holes in the table where we would shoot at cans and bottles from the back porch with Gene's guns." One of those guns was an antique rifle given to Gene by fellow gun aficionado David Crosby. Apparently a lot of those peacenik hippie types in Laurel Canyon were packing heat.

Shockingly enough, most of the members of that "strange family" living in the backwoods did not fare so well as they grew into adulthood. As of the time of the writing of Einarson's Mr. Tambourine Man (2005), one Clark sibling had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, another suffered from severe bouts of clinical depression, another was homeless due to untreated mental illness, another was on psychiatric meds most of her life before dying suddenly in 1987, another was bipolar, and yet another was diagnosed with severe mental retardation. Even more shockingly, mysterious father Kelly Clark was said to be a raging alcoholic who suffered from severe mood swings.

Gene's formal education began in 1949 at a strict Catholic school in Raytown. According to big sister Bonnie, quoted by Einarson, "there were truly some abusive people [there]. I can remember some of those nuns being real nightmares." By 1960, the family had moved to Bonner Springs, Kansas, where Gene attended high school. He was known to hang with a rough crowd during his high school days, and a few of his buddies from those years ended up serving prison time.

On August 12, 1963, Gene Clark, still a few months shy of his nineteenth birthday, was inexplicably offered a spot in the New Christy Minstrels vocal group; he was on a plane to California the very next day. The Minstrels were a very busy touring group, averaging some 300 dates a year, so Gene would spend a lot of time on airplanes during his six-month tenure as a Minstrel. Curiously though, fear of flying would be cited a couple years later as Gene's reason for leaving the Byrds.

One of the gigs the group played, on January 14, 1964, was at the White House as special guests of Lyndon Johnson, who had taken office less than two months earlier following the assassination of John Kennedy. After the performance, Gene and other Minstrels (including Barry McGuire, who, as was discussed previously, released Eve Of Destruction a couple years later) went out on the town and partied with Johnson's two daughters, Lynda Bird and Luci Baines, who were just nineteen and sixteen at the time.

As the story goes, Gene quit the New Christy Minstrels a couple of weeks later, in February of 1964, after hearing the first album released by an upstart British band known as the Beatles. Clark immediately headed out to Los Angeles, as would so many others, where he regularly hung out at the Troubadour, just off the Sunset Strip. It was there that he met one James Joseph McGuinn III, who had, curiously enough, once been in the New Christy Minstrels himself, for exactly one day. The two quickly formed a folk duo and began writing songs, hoping to soon get bookings at the Troubadour and other local clubs. But according to McGuinn, the pair "never got to the stage of performing as a duo ... Crosby came along quite quickly."

McGuinn was initially quite wary of the interloper, but the three nevertheless became a trio known at first as the Jet Set. With Crosby, of course, came Jim Dickson, who would transform the trio into the Byrds. According to Vern Gosdin-who, along with his brother, Rex, played with many of the Laurel Canyon musicians-it was Jim Dickson who "put the Byrds together, you might say. If I'm telling the truth, this is what I think: I don't think the Byrds had any ideas whatsoever, and Jim Dickson put it all together for them." Dickson originally envisioned the band as a Beatlesque quartet, with Gene as John (lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist), Roger as George (lead guitar and vocals), and Crosby as Paul (bass and vocals).

This arrangement proved unworkable, however, since Crosby was reportedly unable to sing and play bass at the same time. This then led Dickson to recruit mandolin player Chris Hillman to take over bass duties, leaving Crosby with little to do other than provide harmony vocals. That didn't sit well though with Lord Crosby, so he began a relentless campaign aimed at eroding Gene's confidence in his own guitar playing ability. Crosby's constant ridicule paid off and he soon enough took over rhythm guitar duties. The five-man band was then complete: Gene would provide most lead vocals and bang the tambourine, Jim/ Roger McGuinn would provide the band's signature twelve-string guitar sound and harmony vocals, Crosby would provide serviceable (at best) rhythm guitar work and harmony vocals, and Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke would pretend (initially at least) to play the bass guitar and the drums.

The band released its first single as the Beefeaters. The record was produced by Jim Dickson, who would go on to guide the Byrds' career, and Paul Rothchild, who would go on to guide the Doors' career. The single, released by Elektra Records, went nowhere. By November of 1964 though, the band, renamed the Byrds, was signed with Columbia Records. Just two months later they would record Mr. Tambourine Man and become huge stars. But there was a hurdle to overcome first; as Einarson notes, "[Gene] had received his draft notice. Roger and Michael had already dodged that bullet; now it was Gene's turn." Not to worry though; Gene was able to dodge that bullet as well. According to Einarson, Gene was deemed unfit for military service due to an "old football disease," identified as "Osgood Schlatter's Disease." Luckily for Gene, it apparently didn't prevent him from playing football but it did keep him out of the service.

Gene Clark was, without question, an astoundingly prolific songwriter. Relatively few of his compositions, however, appeared on Byrds' albums, which instead featured a lot of covers. The truth is that Gene had more than enough songs-and reportedly good songs-to fill the early Byrds' albums. Even Crosby has acknowledged that Clark "was prolific. He would show up every week with new songs and they were great songs." Crosby wasn't so generous though with his assessments of Gene's talents back in the day. According to most accounts, it was the jealousy of Crosby and McGuinn that kept Gene's tracks off the records.

In those days, there wasn't a lot of money to be made by performing and recording music. The real money was in song royalties, so Clark was paid considerably more than the rest of the band. As McGuinn put it, "Gene was into Ferraris and we were still starving." That disproportionate compensation quickly drove a wedge between Clark and the other two thirds of the original trio. At times, Gene even shared writing credits on his songs just to get them onto albums. The classic Eight Miles High, for example, was written by Gene but credited to Crosby and McGuinn as well.

As has been noted previously, Vito Paulekas played a key role in launching the careers of the Byrds. And so it is that we find references to Vito and his entourage in Einarson's telling of the Gene Clark story: "Vito and Carl were legendary hipsters on the LA scene and were into LSD long before anyone else. It was at their studio that Gene believed the Byrds truly found their magic as a group." According to Morgan Cavett, the son of Oscar-winning screenwriter Frank Cavett, "They had this group of hippies before that term came into use. Somehow they had hooked up with the Byrds."

When the band launched its very first national tour in July 1965, "Along for the trip were LA scene-makers Vito and Carl and their entourage of crazed hippie dancers whose uninhibited gyrations caused quite a stir in the heartlands of America." Einarson's account though is not quite accurate; Vito stayed home while first lieutenant Carl Franzoni led the faction of the troupe that hit the road with the Byrds. Assisting Franzoni was Byrds' roadie Brian McLean, who shortly thereafter would beat out Mansonite Bobby Beausoleil for the rhythm guitarist position in Love. As troupe dancer Lizzie Donohue would later recall, many of those in America's hinterlands "thought we were from outer space. In Paris, Illinois, they actually threw us off the dance floor." Gene Clark would later remember that the band "could have played out of tune all day. Nobody ever heard us anyway." According to many accounts, the band oftentimes did play out of tune all day. And all night as well.

When the band followed up its first national tour with a tour of the UK, the Byrds were not well received. Often the band would spend more time tuning their instruments between songs than they did actually playing those songs. And by most accounts, the boys made virtually no attempt to forge a connection with the audience. Gene did though forge a bond with the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, whose life would be tragically cut short a couple years later.

Sometime after that tour, members of the Byrds famously met with members of the Beatles and they all dropped acid together. Some accounts hold that that meeting took place in the Cielo Drive home where Sharon Tate would later be butchered, but it appears to have actually taken place at another home in Benedict Canyon, one that may have been formerly owned by Zsa Zsa Gabor. Laurel Canyon stalwart Peter Fonda was reportedly in attendance, and legend holds that it was he who supplied a very high John Lennon with the line, "1 know what it's like to be dead."

In March of 1966, a press release announced Gene Clark's departure from the Byrds. McGuinn has alleged that Dickson and co-manager Eddie Ticknor encouraged Gene to split from the band so that they could exploit his solo potential. If so, then they must have been greatly disappointed since Clark never came close to living up to that potential.

One of the first offers Gene received upon his departure from the Byrds was from drummer Dewey Martin, who invited Clark to join the newly formed Buffalo Springfield. Clark declined, choosing to form his own band, the first of which was dubbed the Group. As Einarson explains, "Six weeks after rehearsals began, Gene Clark and the Group debuted at the Whisky-A-Go-Go on June 22 for a two-week stand, on the heels of a dazzling six-week stint by new group Buffalo Springfield." Around that same time, Clark began having an affair with Michelle Phillips, who lived with hubby John Phillips just a couple of blocks down the canyon.

Following what were reportedly unproductive recording sessions, Gene's first post-Byrds formation broke up. On July 10, he was signed as a solo artist and he entered the studio the next month accompanied by doomed guitarist Clarence White, Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, our old friend Glen Campbell, the ubiquitous Chris Hillman, and Vern and Rex Gosdin, who had gotten their start alongside Chris Hillman in the formation known as the Hillmen. In January of 1967, Clark's first solo album was released as Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers.

Like many of the other records we have stumbled upon while on this journey, some fans and critics regard the record as the first country-rock album (released a year-and-a-half before the country-rock forays by the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield). The album, unfortunately, was quickly overshadowed by the Byrds' own Younger than Yesterday, which Columbia released just two weeks after releasing Gene's solo effort.

By March of 1967, Clark had put together a new version of the Group, which debuted at the Whisky with Clark, Clarence White and two members of the Mamas and the Papas' touring group, whom Gene had met through his paramour, Michelle Phillips. At the tail end of 1967, Gene briefly rejoined the Byrds, replacing the fired David Crosby. The reunion lasted only a few weeks but it was long enough for Gene to contribute to The Notorious Byrd Brothers, released in January 1968.

When Gene had left the Byrds, it should be noted, he had done so empty handed. Not so with Crosby, who was given a substantial settlement upon his departure. He used that money to purchase a yacht, which he dubbed the Mayan. Crosby thereafter was known to spend extended periods of time aboard the Mayan, sailing to and from various locations. He was not the only canyon musician to own and operate such a vessel; John Phillips had one as well, as did Dennis Wilson. All three of them also had a passion for controlled substances. And guns. Perhaps there is some connection there.

Following his brief reunion with the Byrds, Clark composed the original score for Marijuana, a short anti-drug film hosted by Sonny Bono. His next project, dubbed The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark, featured Gene, Doug Dillard (formerly of the Dillards, from whom Buffalo Springfield, it will be recalled, had obtained their instruments), Bernie Leadon (who had been a peripheral member of San Diego's Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, alongside Chris Hillman), and, of course, Chris Hillman.

By that time Gene had married and his wife, Carlie, was an avid reader of occult literature, particularly, as she recalled, "this lady named Madame Blavatsky." Circa 1971, Clark was approached by his friend and fellow Canyonite, Dennis Hopper, to compose songs for the soundtrack to Hopper's American Dreamer. Around that same time, according to Einarson, "Gene's running buddies included David Carradine and John Barrymore." That was, to say the least, a rather curious group of friends. According to authors such as Craig Heimbichner, Martin P. Starr, and John Carter, Dennis Hopper and John Carradine (David's dad) were both members of the infamous Agape Lodge of the OTO, alongside doomed rocket scientist Jack Parsons, actor Dean Stockwell, and doppelgangers L. Ron Hubbard and Robert Heinlein. According to Gregory Mank, writing in Hollywood's Hellfire Club, John Carradine and John Barrymore were also members of the so-called "Bundy Drive Boys," a group that engaged in such practices as incest, rape and cannibalism. And according to Ed Sanders, among the upscale homes visited by a Process work group "was the John Barrymore mansion, located at 1301 Summit Ridge Drive."

The year 1972 saw yet another brief Byrds reunion, with another record released, this one in February of 1973. Gene next began recording sessions for a new solo project, financed by his friend Gary Legon, the husband of porn star and Ivory Soap model Marilyn Chambers. Joining Gene on some of the tracks was Emmylou Harris, whose hubby Tom Slocum-a descendant of famed explorer Joshua Slocum-was a member of Gene's inner circle.

After briefly relocating to Albion, California with his wife and kids, Clark moved back to Laurel Canyon, where he moved into a home on Stanley Hills Drive with his new girlfriend, Terri Messina. Born into considerable wealth, Messina was the daughter of a prominent area physician. In 1963, she had enrolled in theater arts at UCLA, which quite likely would have placed her in the company of a couple of other UCLA theater arts students named Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek. Terri and Gene moved in together in the summer of 1977. According to Einarson, Messina "laterally work[ed] in film editing, [but] she was better known in exclusive circles as a supplier of cocaine." And heroin. As has been previously discussed, during that time period the "entire Laurel Canyon lifestyle revolved around cocaine," and "Gene fell into line, becoming a legendary partier."

Canyon resident Ken Mansfield recalled those dark years: "That particular point in my life, and most of us, was the craziest time of all, when we were all into drugs the most. Tommy's [Kaye] house was one of the houses we hung out at a lot. David Carradine was my neighbor in Laurel Canyon. Our two properties were side by side. David had a group called Water. I could tell you some wild canyon stories ... Looking back it's not a nice memory. Even though we thought we were having a good time, I don't think we really were. Shortly after Tommy Kaye's little girl, Eloise, died in an unfortunate accident, it just seemed like everybody's life got dark and we all kind of lost hope there for a while."

Kids living in Laurel Canyon apparently had to be particularly vigilant about avoiding tragic accidents.

Circa 1978, Clark teamed with former bandmates Hillman and McGuinn for a contrived reunion tour. An album followed in early 1979, with a second released in early 1980. During that time, according to brother David Clark, Gene "was hanging around with these really gross characters who were just a bunch of burnouts and he wasn't much better. Cathy Evelyn Smith was there." Not long after, Smith would attain a certain amount of notoriety for her involvement in the curious death of John Belushi at the Chateau Marmont. We should then, I suppose, add John Belushi to the Laurel Canyon Death List. And Eloise Kaye as well.

Following the release of the second Byrds reunion album, Clark and a close friend, guitarist Jesse Ed Davis, left LA for Oahu, Hawaii, supposedly to get clean. They returned at the end of 1981, with Gene once again settling into his favorite canyon. Among his close friends at that time were former child star Kurt Russell and his then-wife, actress Season Hubley, who had also taken up residence in Laurel Canyon. Gene's solo career sputtered on for another decade, though fewer and fewer people seemed to be paying much attention.

In January 1991, the original members of the Byrds came together for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Clark died just four months later, reportedly of a heart attack. He was just forty-six at the time. The circumstances of his death remain murky to this day. As Einarson has noted, "What transpired over the last three days of Gene's life remains clouded by controversy ... conspiracy theories abound; accusations have been leveled." For the most part though, Gene has now been all but forgotten. His vast stockpile of unreleased material, however- much of which mysteriously disappeared after his death-likely lives on, albeit credited to others.

According to Einarson, Clark had been fighting to stay sober but it "is agreed that he began drinking again on the evening of Wednesday, May 22 ... What happened next depends entirely on who is telling the story. [One witness) claims he searched the house for drugs and did not find any-contrary to claims by others that drugs and drug paraphernalia were present in the house ... there are those conspiracy theorists who continue to insinuate that drugs and certain characters were, indeed, present that night, and that Gene's death was a result of misadventure, necessitating a panicked clean-up campaign that morning."

There were apparently numerous people present at Clark's home on the morning of May 24, 1991, as Gene lay dead on the living room floor. One of those people was Saul Davis, who "took it upon himself to contact the media with the news, another bone of contention with some, given that Saul was not serving as Gene's manager at the time." Another was the manager of the property, identified as Ray Berry, who had served during WWII in Special Ops. While people milled about the house, "arguing over the spoils ... Gene's body continued to lie on the living room floor, face up."

Days later, David Carradine caused quite a stir at Gene's open-casket memorial service. Former bandmate Pat Robinson remembered it well: "When Carradine came up, he wasn't as much drunk as he was on acid, I think, and his girlfriend and business manager at the time was there with him. And we're standing there and Carradine says, 'You cocksucker. ..' and grabs Gene by the lapels. When you pull somebody up from a coffin and they have nothing inside for guts they bend higher up. It was really shocking to see that. And Carradine goes, 'You pissed on my daughter when she was thirteen.' And he said it pretty loud and then he says, 'I saw him snicker, boys, heh heh.' Oh, man, that was weird."

Perhaps weirder still is that many of those who were in attendance remember hearing something a little different: "You fucked my daughter when she was thirteen." Maybe Carradine had mistaken Clark for Roman Polanski. Or maybe that's just what everyone was doing in Laurel Canyon. In any event, none of the original members of the Byrds bothered to attend the service. Afterwards, Gene was laid to rest in tiny Tipton.

It should be noted here, before concluding this chapter, that there were very clear indications that Gene Clark suffered from a rather severe dissociative disorder throughout his adult life. As far as can be determined from the literature, he was never diagnosed as such, but comments made by his bandmates and family members are quite revealing. One such band mate, Pat Robinson, has described how Clark "used to slip into these dream states, which I thought was really amazing. He'd go into these dream states and lay down on the couch and go, 'I'll be right back, Patrick.'" Another, John York, has said that Gene "had these multiple personalities." Yet another, Bernie Leadon, remembered that Clark would often appear to be completely out of it, and he'd "say, 'Hey, Gene, what are you thinking?' and he would go, 'Huh? Oh,' like he was being brought back to reality."

Gene's sister, Bonnie Clark, has also noted that there was more than one version of the troubled singer/songwriter: "There was this persona and the rest of Gene was somewhere in there. He was hard to get to know ... He could be very warm and loving, but that could change in a heartbeat." Chronicler John Einarson offered the following summation: "It is often difficult for those who knew him-even family members-to reconcile the two Gene Clarks: the cheerful, engaging yet shy loner with the vibrant imagination, and the frustrated, moody recluse who was sometimes prone to violence."
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:43 am


"John [Phillips] was the ultimate controller."

-- Mamas and the Papas producer/manager Lou Adler

"She was practically his slave."

-- Michelle Phillips, describing John's relationship with his third wife, Genevieve Waite

THUS FAR ON THIS JOURNEY, WE HAVE SEEN HOW WHAT ARE ARGUABLY THE two most bloody and notorious mass murders in the history of the City of Angels-the murders of the occupants of the home on Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, and the so-called Four on the Floor bludgeoning murders of four drug dealers on Wonderland Avenue-were directly connected to the Laurel Canyon music scene. But the city of Los Angeles can boast of one other particularly notorious murder, one that stands to this day as both the most gruesome single-victim murder and the most famous unsolved murder in the city's history.

On January 15, 1947, the mutilated body of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short was found posed in a field. The ritualistically butchered body was nude, sliced cleanly in half, and completely drained of blood. Parts of the body had been removed, after which the corpse had been thoroughly sanitized. Bruising clearly indicated that the young girl had been savagely beaten. Forensic evidence suggested that she had been forced to eat feces during her tortuous ordeal. She was quickly dubbed the 'Black Dahlia' and it is by that name that she is known and written about today.

Much of what has been written about the brief life of Ms. Short is contradictory. Among the facts that seem to be agreed upon are that she had recently worked at a military facility that is now known as Vandenberg Air Force Base, and that she had some kind of close connection to a US Naval hospital in San Diego, where she may have also worked. That is, in any event, what she had indicated in a letter to her mother.

Unlike the Manson and Wonderland murders, the mutilation of the Black Dahlia occurred some twenty years before Laurel Canyon's glory days. There is, nevertheless, a possible connection.

This story begins on August 30, 1935, with the birth of John Edmund Andrew Phillips to parents Claude and Edna Phillips. Claude was a retired Marine Corps officer and engineer. His father, John Andrew Phillips, who had been a prominent and influential architect, one day "mysteriously fell to his death" on a construction site, according to John Phillips' autobiography.

John's mother, Edna, had what most people would consider a decidedly unconventional upbringing. Her mother was a psychic and faith healer, and many of her eleven siblings were well known locally as gunfighters and bandits. When Edna was just a year old, she was purportedly kidnapped by Gypsies! Not to worry though-her father allegedly found her a year later down in Mexico, though how he would have done so will doubtless forever remain a mystery.

Edna was just fifteen when she met and began a relationship with Claude Phillips, who according to legend had supposedly won an Oklahoma bar from a fellow serviceman in a poker game on the way home from France at the close of WWI-which seems, in retrospect, about as credible as various other aspects of Phillips family history as told by John. By eighteen, Edna had given birth to the couple's first child, Rosie Phillips, born on New Year's Eve, 1922. Rosie would later become a career employee of the Pentagon, where John's first wife would also find work. Years later, according to John, Rosie's daughter Patty would be "found dead of an overdose in a girlfriend's apartment in North Hollywood ... There were mysterious questions surrounding her death." This kind of thing tends to happen to families in Laurel Canyon.

In the late 1920s, Claude Phillips was commissioned to Haiti, where he remained for four years. He was then sent back to Quantico, then shipped off to Managua, Nicaragua, before finally returning to Alexandria, Virginia, where John Phillips, who would become arguably the most important music figure in the canyon, grew up and went to school. John attended a series of strict Catholic and military schools. He also served as an altar boy, though according to his own account, he also had a darker side which included forays into vandalism, auto theft, breaking and entering, fighting, and other assorted mischief. His mother, meanwhile, routinely cruised for men, when not spending time with a US Army Colonel named George Lacy. John would later be told that his real father was a US Marine Corps doctor named Roland Meeks, who died in a Japanese POW camp during WWII.

Phillips played basketball at George Washington High School, graduating in 1953. He then scored an appointment to Annapolis Naval Academy, but soon dropped out. One of his first paying jobs was working on a fishing charter boat. As John later recalled it, the crew consisted of him, a retired Navy officer, and four retired Army generals. Seems like a perfect fit for one of the future guiding lights of the hippie movement. Phillips also, for a brief time, tried his hand at selling cemetery plots.

As noted at the beginning of this odyssey, John's first wife was the aristocratic Susie Adams, a direct descendent of President John Adams and an occasional practitioner of voodoo. The couple's first son, Jeffrey, was born on Friday the 13th in December of 1957. Shortly after that, John found himself in, of all places, Havana, Cuba, just as the Batista regime was about to fall to the revolutionary forces of Fidel Castro. According to Phillips, he and his traveling companions "were once whisked off the street by a director, straight into a TV studio to appear on a live Havana variety show." Many of you, I'm sure, have had a similar experience.

Some months later, in 1958, Phillips flew to Los Angeles and began performing on amateur nights at Pandora's Box on the legendary Sunset Strip. His first band, the Journeymen, featured Phillips, Scott Mc- Kenzie and Dick Weismann. It was while touring with this formation that John Phillips met a very young Holly Michelle Gilliam. Michelle was born November 10, 1944, in Long Beach, California, to a father variously described as a merchant marine, a movie production assistant, and a self-taught intellectual. When Michelle's mother, a Baptist minister's daughter, reportedly died of a brain aneurysm when Michelle was just five, Gardner "Gil" Gilliam took his daughters and promptly relocated to Mexico, ostensibly to attend college on the GI Bill. They remained there for several years. Upon their return to Southern California, Gil found work as an LA County probation officer. According to John, Gil's work "often required him to go out of town," though one would think that that would make it rather difficult for him to keep tabs on his charges.

In 1958, while future husband John was vacationing in war-torn Cuba, Michelle found a new mother figure in twenty-three-year-old Tamar Hodel. Tamar's father, Dr. George Hodel, was described by Vanity Fair in December 2007 as lithe most pathologically decadent man in Los Angeles" and lithe city's venereal-disease czar and a fixture in its A-list demimonde." Also noted in the article was that "George Hodel shared with Man Ray a love for the work of the Marquis de Sade and the belief that the pursuit of personal liberty was worth everything." In other words, Hodel embraced that all-purpose Luciferian creed, "Do what thou wilt."

According to the same article, Tamar and her siblings had "grown up in her father's Hollywood house, which resembled a Mayan temple, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, and was the site of wild parties, in which Hodel was sometimes joined by director John Huston and photographer Man Ray." The luxurious home reportedly features, among other amenities, a subterranean walk-in vault, which is always a nice thing to have around. Within the walls of that singularly odd Hollywood Hills home, which lies about three miles due east of the mouth of Laurel Canyon, Tamar has talked of how she "often 'uncomfortably' posed nude ... for 'dirty-old-man' Man Ray and had once wriggled free from a predatory John Huston." Her own father, not so shockingly, "had committed incest with her. 'When I was eleven, my father taught me to perform oral sex on him.'" Her father also "plied her with erotic books, grooming her for what he touted as their transcendent union," and freely shared her with his wealthy and influential friends.

"To the girl's horror, she became pregnant" at the tender age of fourteen- with her father's child. "To her greater horror, she says, 'my father wanted me to have his baby.'" friend, nevertheless, took her to get an abortion. Dr. George was so incensed that, according to Tamar, he "struck her on the head with his pistol," prompting her stepmother (who also happened to be John Huston's ex-wife) to assist her in going into hiding. Dr. George Hodel was arrested and charged with, among other things, offering his young daughter to several friends at an orgy. The sensational 1949 incest trial featured a witness who took the stand to describe being hypnotized by Hodel at a party.

Allegations that the rich and powerful were dabbling in incest, hypnotism/ pedophilic orgies and Luciferian philosophies must surely have been shocking to Angelenos in the 1940s, as they would still be to most Americans today. Perhaps that is why the jury chose not to believe Tamar and instead acquitted Dr. Hodel. Of course, it should probably be factored in that Tamar was roundly vilified by both the Jerry Giesler-led defense team and the local press.

Far more shocking than the allegations aired at trial was the then-unknown fact that, even while Hodel was standing trial on the sensational charges, he was, and still is today, a prime suspect in the Black Dahlia murder case! There have been, to be sure, numerous suspects identified in the case, including actor/director Orson Welles. But George Hodel does seem to be a much more likely suspect than most of those who have been identified. And his possible guilt, it should be noted, does not exclude others from likely complicity as well. The mistake that virtually all investigators of this case have made is assuming that there was only one culprit. It is entirely possible that Hodel committed the crime in conjunction with various others in his Luciferian social circle. Photographer Man Ray,for example, is a compelling suspect given that the posing of Ms. Short's body appeared to mimic the Minotaur, one of his better-known photographs.

It seems unlikely that the fourteen-year-old daughter of a lowly probation officer would fall into the orbit of the daughter of the very wealthy and well-connected George Hodel, but not any more unlikely, I suppose, than numerous other aspects of the Laurel Canyon saga. Tamar, who has been described by Michelle as "the epitome of glamour," quickly took the youngster under her wing, buying her c1othes, enrolling her in modeling school, teaching her to drive, and providing her with a fake ID and a steady stream of prescription drugs-obtained, one would presume, from her father. According to Michelle, "Tamar put on perfect airs around my dad and when it became necessary she would sleep with him." That perhaps explains why, in early 1961, Gil didn't have a problem with allowing his underage daughter to move to San Francisco with her surrogate mom.

Soon enough, Tamar found herself in a relationship with Journeyman Scott McKenzie, and band mate John Phillips began coming by Tamar and Michelle's room on a nightly basis. It wasn't long before Michelle, still just sixteen, was romantically involved with twenty-five-year-old Phillips, despite the fact that John was still married to and living with Susie Adams, with whom he by then had two children, Laura MacKenzie Phillips having been born on November 10, 1959 in, naturally enough, Alexandria, Virginia. Father Gil, who had recently taken a sixteen-year-old bride of his own (one of a string of six wives), still wasn't concerned. And it's probably safe to assume that Phillips' father, who had pursued his bride when she was just fifteen, wouldn't have been too concerned either.

In October 1962, a year or so after meeting Michelle, John curiously found himself in Jacksonville, Florida, alongside Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport for "two weeks of rest and rehearsal" that just happened to coincide with the Cuban Missile Crisis. For a guy who, in his own words, "never felt comfortable with political advocacy," John seems to have had a keen interest in Cuban affairs. Two months later, on New Year's Eve 1962, Holly Michelle Gilliam became John Phillips' second wife. She also joined his reconfigured band, as did Canadian Denny Doherty, who had formerly been with the Mugwumps alongside Cass Elliot. This new lineup was dubbed the New Journeymen.

The newly formed trio promptly embarked on a drug-fueled Caribbean adventure, arriving first at St. Johns, where John claimed that they "snorkeled on acid" for several weeks. They next ferried over to St. Thomas, where they set up camp at a dive beachfront boardinghouse known as Duffy's. Soon enough, Ellen Naomi Cohen, better known as Cass Elliot, showed up with John's nephew, who was a childhood friend of hers. Cass had been born in Baltimore but had grown up in Alexandria, where, like Phillips, she had attended George Washington High School. As the legend goes, Cass waited tables at the dive while the trio performed folk songs. During their time there, "The town was," according to Phillips, "crawling with drunken Marines and sailors on their way home from Vietnam."

Moving on from the boardinghouse, the group next took over an unfinished home on Creeque Alley, where, according to John, they were known as "the island's open house and everyone was welcome to our commune." At some point though the governor supposedly ordered them off the island "because he thought his nephew was doing drugs with the crazies at Creeque Alley." The band had formalized its new lineup of John Phillips, Michelle Phillips, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot, and they had a whole album's worth of material written. That first album would feature such enduring classics as California Dreamin' and Monday, Monday. On none of the band's subsequent albums would they produce anywhere near the level of songwriting that they were somehow able to achieve on that Caribbean adventure.

Though isolated on St. Thomas, the songs the group brought back to LA with them just happened to be of the previously unheard but soon-to-emerge folk-rock variety. In his autobiography, Papa John, Phillips quotes Doherty as saying that everyone was "evolving toward the same sound at the same time without really communicating with each other about it." It was, I suppose, just the way things were fated to be -- another one of those amazing serendipities!

To be sure, Phillips told a number of different versions of the story of the origins of the songs on that first album. One version had California Dreamin' being written in a New York hotel room in the middle of the night, with assistance from Michelle. Another version held that the tune was composed on the drive to LA from New York. Yet another version had the song dating back to 1963. Phillips also claimed at times that the song wasn't even written for the Mamas and the Papas but rather for Barry McGuire, who was a hot commodity following the 1965 release of Eve Of Destruction.

Within a month of arriving in LA, the band had a producer/manager (Lou Adler, a Jewish kid who had grown up in a tough, Hispanic section of East LA) and a record deal, and John and Michelle were at home in a comfortable house on Lookout Mountain in Laurel Canyon. They would soon be able to afford to purchase Jeanette McDonald's former Bel Air mansion at 783 Bel Air Road, which featured "hand-carved wooden gargoyles" and "a walk-in vault beneath the house," which, as I already mentioned, is a very handy feature. Sitting on five acres, the lavish home, with five Rolls-Royces in the driveway, was the site of virtually nonstop partying.

The new lineup, of course, needed a name, and John pushed hard for the occult-based Magic Cyrcle, a name by which the band was briefly known before ultimately settling on the Mamas and the Papas. They proved to be a rather short-lived band, recording and performing only from 1965 to 1968, with a brief reunion in 1971 to satisfy contractual obligations to their record company. During that time, the band produced five albums and eleven top forty singles. To date, the lineup has sold nearly 100,000,000 albums.

The Mamas and the Papas' freshman album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, was released in early 1966 and rose to the very top of the charts. It was all downhill from there. While recording their second album in June 1966, Michelle was discharged from the band due to the fact that she was having an affair with Denny Doherty, which was causing severe friction in the group. By August though she was back, which didn't prevent the group's second album from performing rather poorly. The third, recorded in 1967 and entitled Deliver, failed to live up to its name. Then in June of that year, the Mamas and the Papas delivered a closing set at the Monterey Pop Festival that almost everyone agrees was pretty wretched.

Two months after Monterey, the band made their final television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Two months after that, the quartet headed off to Europe while recording their fourth album, The Papas and the Mamas. Shortly thereafter, the band broke up. John tried his hand at a solo career with the unsuccessful release of John Phillips, the Wolf King of LA, which bore the logo of his own Warlock Records. To satisfy record label demands, the group then briefly reformed for their fourth album, People Like Us. Following that unsuccessful venture, the band once again dissolved.

During the heyday of the Mamas and the Papas, John and Michelle Phillips knew, and regularly played host to, virtually everyone of importance in the canyons. In addition to all the singers and musicians living in Laurel Canyon, the power couple's circle of friends included Warren Beatty, Peter and Jane Fonda, Jack Nicholson, Terry Melcher and girlfriend Candice Bergen, Marlon Brando, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski, soon-to-be-dead gossip columnist Steve Brandt, Larry Hagman, presidential brother-in-law Peter Lawford (fresh from his alleged involvement in covering up the murder of Marilyn Monroe), Dennis Hopper, Ryan O'Neal, Mia Farrow, ethereal Freemason Peter Sellers, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. And a short, scraggly singer/songwriter by the name of Charles Manson.

There were, to be sure, numerous ties between the Mamas and the Papas and Charles Manson. And between the Mamas and the Papas and the Cielo Drive victims. John Phillips, for example, had invested $10,000 in Jay Sebring's business venture, Sebring International, which was rumored to have been a front for various illegal activities, including drug trafficking. Michelle Phillips had a brief affair with Roman Polanski in London while Polanski was married to the soon-to-be-murdered Sharon Tate (during that same sojourn to London, Tate was reportedly initiated into the practice of witchcraft). Mama Cass, as previously noted, lived just across the road from the house at 2774 Woodstock Road occupied by Folger and Frykowski. Both homes were frequently visited by known drug dealers. Regulars at Cass' home included Pic Dawson (also a regular at the Frykowski/Folger home and at the Tate/Polanski home), the son of a US State Department official who, according to John Phillips, was suspected by authorities "of using diplomatic pouches to move drugs between countries," and Billy Doyle, a local dealer who Dennis Hopper claimed was filmed while being flogged at the Tate/Polanski house just three days before the murders. Another regular was Bill Mentzer, later convicted of the brutal murder of Cotton Club producer Roy Radin. The LAPD once described Mentzer as a member of "some kind of hit squad."

So dark was the scene at the home of the 'Lady of the Canyon' that, according to journalist Maury Terry, four of the LAPD's initial prime suspects in the Tate killings were drug dealers associated with Cass Elliot. And yet, curiously enough, many of the canyon's peace-and-love spewing musicians were regulars at Mama Cass' home as well. As Rolling Stone noted in its fortieth anniversary edition, "'Mama' Cass Elliot's cozy canyon house functioned as a sort of rock salon." In a similar vein, Barney Hoskyns wrote in Hotel California that "Cass kept permanent open house." Also noted in Hoskyns' tome was that the Laurel Canyon scene "all spun around him and Cass," with the "him" in this case being David Crosby, who, like Cass, had an insatiable appetite for potent pain killers like Demerol, Dilaudid and Percodan. Crosby was one of many Canyonites who regularly dropped by Cass' place to hang out and engage in impromptu jam sessions, and to mingle with some seriously disreputable characters.

Also a regular at Cass' place, by some reports, was Charlie Manson himself. According to Ed Sanders, it was at Cass' home that Charlie first met her neighbor, coffee heiress Abigail Folger (who helped finance Kenneth Anger's films, like the one that was supposed to star Godo Paulekas but instead starred Mansonite Bobby Beausoleil). According to Maury Terry, the rather notorious Process Church of the Final Judgement- which evidence suggests had deep ties to the Manson, Son of Sam and Cotton Club murders-also came knocking on Cass' door, actively seeking to recruit her as well as John Phillips and Terry Melcher.

Terry has written that the Manson Family's iconic bus was seen parked at the home of John and Michelle Phillips in the fall of 1968. Some reports also hold that Manson attended a New Year's Eve party at the couple's home on December 31, 1968, just months before the murders began. So close were the ties between the Mamas and the Papas and the Manson clan that both John Phillips and Mama Cass were slated to appear as witnesses for the defense at the Family's trial, though neither was ever called. For a band that sang about being "safe and warm, if I was in LA," the members of the Mamas and the Papas kept some pretty dangerous company in the City of Angels.

Speaking of dangerous company, not long after the band hit the charts, Tamar Hodel received a postcard from Michelle Phillips asking her to watch their scheduled performance on the Ed Sullivan Show and to then meet the group at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel before a scheduled concert. Tamar showed up with father George at her side -- the two, as with Gram and Robert Parsons, apparently still maintaining a close relationship-and Tamar, George, John, Michelle, Denny and Cass embarked on a drug-fueled pre-show odyssey.

By 1970, John and Michelle had divorced. Many years later, Michelle would reveal that their time together had included at least one episode of domestic violence, one that she was still reluctant to discuss: "It was serious. I ended up in the hospital. That's all I'll say about it." The union had yielded John a second daughter, Gilliam Chynna Phillips, born February 12, 1968, in Los Angeles. On January 31, 1972, John Phillips married for the third time, to actress and Crowley aficionado Genevieve Waite. On the wedding guest list were soon-to-be-governor Jerry Brown and soon-to-be-lieutenant-governor Mike Curb.

The couple's time together would be marked by wildly out-of-control drug consumption and the birth of two more offspring: Tamerlane, whose name is perhaps in part an homage to Tamar Hodel, and Bijou Lilly, who was taken away and placed in foster care in Bolton Landing, New York, after her drug-addled parents were deemed unfit to raise her. In June 1972, shortly after marrying Waite, Phillips moved into a canyon home at 414 St. Pierre Road that had been built by William Randolph Hearst. The Rolling Stones had just vacated the property and their trusty sidekick, Gram Parsons, was still hanging around and would grow very close to John Phillips. Parsons though would soon turn up dead, while John would head off to London where he reportedly planned to record a solo album with assistance from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. That project never got off the ground, however, as Phillips' addictions rendered him impossible to work with.

Cass Elliot turned up in London the very next year, but unlike her former bandmate, her trip abroad was to be one-way; on July 29, 1974, she was found dead in occasional Canyonite Harry Nilsson's London flat. Ms. Elliot, it seems safe to say, knew a little too much about the dark side of Laurel Canyon.

Following the dissolution of the Mamas and the Papas, Cass had gone on to a successful solo career and had become a familiar face on American television screens. In addition to hosting two primetime network specials, she had guest-hosted the Tonight Show and had appeared on such popular early 1970s shows as The Red Skelton Show and Love, American Style. She had been married twice, first in 1963 to vocalist Jim Hendricks in what was reportedly a platonic arrangement aimed at getting Hendricks a draft deferment. During that first marriage, which was annulled in 1968, Cass had given birth to a daughter, Owen Vanessa Elliot, born on April 26, 1967. Hendricks, however, was reportedly not the father and Cass steadfastly refused to reveal who Owen's true father was. In 1971, following the breakup of the band, Cass married again, to Baron Donald von Weidenman, a wealthy Bavarian heir. That marriage collapsed after just a few months though and Cass was single when she died just a few years later. Owen, already fatherless, was just seven.

Denny Doherty, meanwhile, went on to host a popular variety show in Canada, as well as perform in various formations of the New Mamas and the Papas. He passed away on January 19, 2007, reportedly due to kidney failure.

Michelle Phillips released an unsuccessful solo album and then switched gears and went on to a successful acting career, gracing the small screen in such hit shows as Knot's Landing, Hotel, and Beverly Hills, 90210. She continued to have numerous flings and has married several more times. She is currently the only living member of the original Mamas and the Papas.

As for John Phillips, in 1975 he sobered up enough to put together the soundtrack for the film The Man Who Fell to Earth, a surreal venture featuring the talents of fledgling actor David Bowie and director Nicolas Roeg, who had previously collaborated with Crowleyite Donald Cammell on Performance. At that same time, Phillips was working on completing a horrifically bad, Andy Warhol-produced stage musical entitled Man on the Moon, which closed just two days after opening. Phillips at one time had Don "Miami Vice" Johnson in mind to play the lead in his space opera. Like the rest of the Hollywood notables in this story, Johnson was a canyon dweller at the time. His next-door neighbor happened to be a guy by the name of Chuck Wein, an avid occultist and buddy of Warhol who, in addition to managing bizarre nightclub acts, directed the 1972 documentary Rainbow Bridge. Wein shared a curious nickname with fellow Canyonite Charlie Manson: The Wizard.

For the remainder of his career, Phillips' musical output consisted primarily of occasionally writing songs for and with others, his most well known contribution being his co-writing duties on Kokomo, recorded and released by the Beach Boys.

In 1981, Phillips found himself facing charges of trafficking large quantities of narcotics. By his own account, he had an arrangement with a pharmacy that allowed him to obtain large amounts of narcotics without prescriptions (daughter Bijou would later say that he had actually purchased the pharmacy, guaranteeing virtually unlimited access). The charges were quite serious; in Phillips' own words, he "was looking at forty-five years and got thirty days." He began serving his sentence, appropriately enough, on April 20 and he was released just three-and-a- half weeks later. It never hurts to have friends in high places.

Phillips' circle of friends in the post-Mamas and the Papas years included J. Paul Getty, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Jr., and Princess Margaret. Getty and Kennedy, both plagued by demons of their own, were likely being supplied by Phillips. Another name in Phillips' Rolodex was Colin Tennant, the wealthy heir of a massive petrochemical conglomerate in the UK. Tennant owned a private island in the British West Indies where wealthy friends like John Phillips and Mick and Bianca Jagger could engage in unknown activities in complete seclusion.

Upon being released from his preposterously short period of confinement, Phillips put together a version of the Mamas and the Papas that included daughter Mackenzie Phillips and original lead vocalist Denny Doherty. Scott McKenzie, who had summoned all the runaways across the country to come to San Francisco with flowers in their hair, later replaced Doherty. Laurie Beebe subsequently replaced Mackenzie Phillips, after which Doherty returned once again to replace John Phillips. The band finally called it quits in 1994.

Phillips had divorced Waite in 1985. In 1992, he received a liver transplant and a new lease on life. Just months later, he was photographed drinking in a bar in Palm Springs. In 1998, Phillips and the other surviving members of the Mamas and the Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Three years later, on March 18, 2001, Phillips died of heart failure. The saga wasn't quite over, however; Phillips' daughters would carryon with the family tradition-while spilling some dark family secrets along the way.

Oldest daughter Mackenzie began her acting career at the tender age of twelve when she landed a role in what was to be George Lucas' breakthrough film, American Graffiti. Just a few years before, it will be recalled, Lucas had been an unknown cameraman at the Rolling Stones' notorious Altamont concert. During the filming of Graffiti in 1972, John Phillips, who I'm sure had lots of important business to attend to and therefore little time to look after his daughter, signed over legal guardianship of Mackenzie to producer Gary Kurtz. A few years later, in 1975, Mackenzie landed a role on what would quickly become a hit television series, One Day at a Time. During the third season, however, Mackenzie was arrested for public drunkenness and cocaine possession, after which her substance abuse problems continued to spiral out of control, causing frequent problems and considerable tension on the set of her hit show.

Providing a template for Charlie Sheen to later follow, she was fired from her show in 1980. After two nearly fatal overdoses, she was invited back by producers in 1981. The following year she collapsed on the set and was once again fired. What had once seemed a very promising acting career was over as quickly as it had begun. From the late 1980s through the early 1990s, she performed intermittently with the reformed Mamas and the Papas. In 1992, she reportedly entered a long-term rehab program that she didn't emerge from for nine months. Following that, she kept a low profile for many years. In August 2008, however, she was arrested at LAX for heroin and cocaine possession and on Halloween day 2008, she entered a guilty plea and was once again sent to rehab.

A year later, in September 2009, Mackenzie released her tell-all memoir, High on Arrival, which painted a disturbing picture of her late father. In addition to introducing her to drugs at the age of eleven by injecting her with cocaine, Mackenzie claimed that Papa John had raped her on the eve of her first marriage and had engaged in an incestuous affair with her that spanned a decade and ended only when she became pregnant and did not know who the father was-a scenario, it should be noted, with remarkable parallels to the ordeal endured by Michelle's surrogate mother, Tamar Hodel.

John Phillips' memoir covering the time period in question made no mention of the illicit relationship with his daughter. He did though claim that Mackenzie was once raped at knifepoint by an unknown assailant. He also noted, shockingly enough, that Mackenzie's "house in Laurel Canyon was destroyed by fire." That, as we all know, hardly ever happens.

The year after dropping her bombshells, Mackenzie appeared on what is arguably the most appalling 'reality' show to ever hit the airwaves, Celebrity Rehab, in a role far removed from her glory days on a hit primetime show. That same year, sister Chynna Phillips entered rehab as well, though she was reportedly seeking relief from "anxiety." Chynna first captured the spotlight in 1990 as one-third of the vocal group Wilson Phillips, alongside Carnie and Wendy Wilson, offspring of reclusive Beach Boy Brian Wilson. That group though proved to be very short-lived, as did Chynna's musical career. In 1995, Chynna married actor William Baldwin. In 2003, she became what Vanity Fair described as a "fervent born-again Christian. She was baptized in brother-in- law Stephen Baldwin's bathtub." The magazine also quoted Chynna as saying that "being a mom is challenging for me-my perspective is warped."

Like her older sisters, Bijou Lilly Phillips-born April 1, 1980, just a year before her father was harshly punished for running a major narcotics trafficking operation-merged into the fast lane at a very young age. Her mother was addicted to heroin while carrying her and Bijou has candidly described herself as a "crack baby." Raised partially in a foster home, she was reunited with her father by the courts when in the third grade. That wasn't necessarily a good thing.

Described by Index magazine as "a wild child who, through fate and circumstance, was somehow allowed to partake of New York's nebulous nightlife at an age traditionally more suited to playing with dolls," Bijou was a cover model from a very young age. She was also the fourteen-year- old star of a Calvin Klein ad campaign that many people (as well as the US Justice Department) considered to be bordering on child pornography, and that Bijou herself has referred to as "the kiddy porn ads."

Bijou told her interviewer from Index that coaching her and creepily lurking behind the scenes of that notorious Calvin Klein photo shoot- I'm guessing as a technical adviser-"was this porn guy." The interviewer identified that "porn guy" as Ron Jeremy, who is not your run-of-the-mill "porn guy," and not just because he is arguably the world's most famous porn star. He is also a very well-connected porn star. His mother, for example, was an asset of the 055, precursor to the CIA. His uncle had ties to notorious gangster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. And he attended high school with none other than future CIA director George Tenet.

Bijou has alluded to the fact that Mackenzie was not the only Phillips daughter to receive unwanted attention from Papa John. In her music can be found lyrics such as "he touched me wrong." Asked directly about such references, she told an interviewer that she had "made this decision not to talk to the press about anything that's gone on in my life, but just to write music about it. They can interpret it themselves," though she then quickly added, "It's blatantly obvious." The youngest of the Phillips clan also acknowledged that she has a "Daddy" tattoo on her rear. "That was [done] during a time," she said, "when I was a pretty sick puppy."

Bijou made her film debut in 1999 and has had a number of low-profile film and television roles since then. Most recently, she has had a recurring role on the television series Raising Hope as, of all things, a serial killer. She is currently an avid Scientologist. Many of the problems she has faced, she ultimately realized, stem from the fact that she'd "never been shown respect by my parents. I'd always been treated like an object, not like a human."
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:44 am


"The fact that Frank Zappa was one of the most prominent rock-star residents of Laurel Canyon didn't change the fact that he viewed the flower-power underground with amused contempt."

-- Barney Hoskyns, author of Hotel California

"Frank openly made fun of the very counterculture he was helping to sustain."

-- Jefferson Airplane vocalist Grace Slick

FRANK ZAPPA WAS BORN ON THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER IN THE YEAR 1940 IN Baltimore, Maryland. Precisely sixty-four years later, on the winter solstice of 2004, his first grandchild, Mathilda Plum Doucette, would be born to daughter Moon Unit Zappa.

Zappa's father, Francesco Vincenzo Zappa, hailed from Partinico, Sicily, described by Zappa biographer Barry Miles as "the Mafia heartland." Francesco was of Greek and Arab ancestry, while his wife Rose Marie was a blend of Italian and French. Many of Francesco and Rose Marie's siblings seem to have lived very short and tragic lives, including Francesco's twin sisters who perished in a train crash. Rose Marie had one sister who died at birth, another (Margaret) who only made it to the age of two, and a third who died shortly after Margaret. She also had a brother who simply vanished at the age of nineteen and was never seen or heard from again.

Francesco Zappa arrived in America in 1908, settling with his parents in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC. He attended the city's Polytechnic High School and then the University of North Carolina, after which he spent the rest of his life in the employ of the US military intelligence establishment. He and Rose Marie had four offspring, the oldest of whom was Francis Vincent, better known as Frank.

Frank's first schooling was at the Edgewood School, part of the Edgewood Arsenal complex where his father worked and the family lived. Edgewood was, for the uninformed, the longtime home of US chemical warfare research, as well as being, by the government's own admission, the site of human mind control experimentation in the post-WWII years. At some point in the 1940s, the Zappa clan relocated to Florida for a short time for unknown reasons, but they soon returned to Baltimore and the Edgewood Arsenal. In 1951, father Francesco was offered a position at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, but he chose instead to head further west and relocate the family to Monterey, California. While there, he taught classes at the Naval Postgraduate School.

After a couple years in Monterey, the Zappas relocated once again, first briefly to Claremont before moving on to the San Diego area, the current home of the world's largest naval fleet. While there, Francesco put his skills to work on the Atlas Missile Project, a program that would produce America's very first intercontinental ballistic missiles. Zappa's area of expertise would tend to indicate that the US was looking into developing chemical warheads for those ICBMs; that though is impossible to determine since Zappa's work in San Diego and elsewhere was classified.

In the summer of 1956, the Zappa family hit the road once again, this time landing in Lancaster, California, right alongside Edwards Air Force Base. Frank Zappa wouldn't be the only rising star to later arrive in Laurel Canyon by way of the sparsely populated wasteland of Lancaster; joining him would be tragically short-lived Byrd Clarence White, America vocalist Dewey Bunnell, and the indescribably bizarre Don Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart.

Shortly before the move to Lancaster, there was an unusual event in Frank's life. According to the Zappa biographies, to celebrate his fifteenth birthday his mother arranged for her son a personal phone call to famed composer Edgard Varese, who at the time was out of the country and unable to take the call. Frank did though speak with the composer's wife and later received, by various accounts, either a letter from Varese or a personal phone call. None of those accounts offer any clue to how Rose Marie Zappa had ready access to someone of Varese's stature.

In Lancaster, Frank attended Antelope Valley High School where he began experimenting with 8mm film and met and befriended Vliet, who would later change his surname to Van Vliet. The two graduated together in 1958, with Frank receiving a diploma despite the fact that he was short on credits. In 1959, at the tender age of eighteen, Frank moved into his own apartment in Echo Park and began attending Pomona College, where he met Kathryn "Kay" Sherman. Frank's brother Bobby Zappa, meanwhile, enlisted in the US Marines.

On December 28, 1960, just a week after Zappa's twentieth birthday, Frank and Kay were married and Frank began working in advertising. The marriage would last just four years. Not long after marrying Sherman, Zappa became involved with character actor Timothy Carey's bizarre underground film project known as The World's Greatest Sinner. Zappa provided the soundtrack for Carey's experimental film, which remained largely unseen for decades after its completion in 1962. The occult-based plot revolved around star Carey's metamorphosis from insurance salesman to rock star to cult leader to self-proclaimed god.

At around that same time, Zappa met and played occasional gigs with Terry Kirkman, who would later form yet another Laurel Canyon-affiliated band, the Association. He also began writing songs for other up-and-comers and forged a friendship and working relationship with Paul Buff, owner of the independent Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga, California. Buff had studied aviation electronics in the US Marines, where he graduated top in a class of 500. Following his time in the service, he secured a job at General Dynamics where he engineered parts for guided missiles. He eventually left that job to, of all things, open his own recording studio. It was in that studio that Buff taught Zappa how to multi-track and overdub. At a time when most independent recording studios featured just mono or, at best, two-track recording capabilities, Buff's studio featured a custom-built five-track tape recorder.

In March of 1963, Zappa famously appeared on The Steve Allen Show to 'play' a bicycle as a musical instrument. That same year, Herb Cohen, who would become the manager of Frank Zappa and fellow canyonites Linda Ronstadt, Alice Cooper, Lenny Bruce and Tim Buckley, returned to Los Angeles. After conveniently being in the Congo at the time of the CIA-sponsored coup that toppled (and led directly to the execution of) Patrice Lumumba, the country's first legally elected prime minister, Cohen had spent time in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he functioned as an international arms dealer.

In 1964, Zappa's marriage to Sherman collapsed and he moved into friend Paul Buff's Pal Studio, which he quickly took over and renamed Studio Z. Not long after, in a curious incident in March 1965, Zappa was charged with 'conspiracy to commit pornography' after accepting an offer to produce erotic audiotapes in his studio/home. He was sentenced to a six-month stint in jail, but all but ten days were suspended.

A year later, in June 1966, Frank Zappa and his recently formed band, the Mothers of Invention, released the ground breaking album Freak Out! It was, depending upon who is telling the story, either the first or second double rock album. (Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde was scheduled to be released a month before Freak Out!, but Dylan's album was apparently delayed.) It was also the first rock 'concept album' and the first to print lyrics on the album sleeve. During the recording of the album-which featured contributions from Vito's troupe, Bobby Beausoleil, Frank's ever-present groupies, and various other hangers-on- Zappa moved into a Laurel Canyon home on Kirkwood Drive with Pamela Zarubica, also known as Suzy Creamcheese.

In the spring of 1967, Frank signed a contract to play at the Garrick Theater in New York, an engagement that would last six months. On one notable occasion, Zappa invited active-duty Marines onto the stage and handed them a doll, which he instructed them to pretend was a "gook baby." The Gis happily obliged the request and gleefully dismembered the doll while Frank looked on. Though Marines weren't normally part of the show, concerts by the Mothers often included the "hurling of severed baby-doll heads into the crowd of gaping groovers," as former GTO Pamela Des Barres remembers it in her book I'm With the Band. It was a practice that Zappa protege Alice Cooper would greatly expand upon.

On the autumnal equinox of 1967, Zappa married Navy brat Adelaide Gail Sloatman, who was then working as former cop/gangster Elmer Valentine's personal assistant, overseeing the operations of the Whisky- A-Go-Go and the Trip. Just one week later, on September 28, 1967, daughter Moon Unit Zappa was born. She would ultimately be joined by three siblings, each bearing a progressively more bizarre name: Dweezil Zappa, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan Zappa, and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa. All would be pulled out of school at the age of fifteen and their father would refuse to pay for any of them to attend college.

The Zappas soon returned to Laurel Canyon and took up residence in what had already become the community's most notorious commune, the iconic Log Cabin. Des Barres described the living conditions for her and other future members of the GTOs: "Lucy and Sandra shared the vault in the basement of the log cabin that Tom Mix built ... Directly across from the vault was a large closet where Christine Frka privately resided." The basement featured a second walk-in vault that was frequently occupied by Carl Franzoni, to whom the Zappa song Hungry Freaks, Daddy was dedicated. People lived in every nook and cranny of the property, as well as on the grounds, which came "complete with a stream and minilake, caves, hideaways ..."

Also at that time, Zappa and manager Cohen jointly launched two new record labels, Bizarre Records and Straight Records. Along with a recording of comic Lenny Bruce's last live performance, the labels would deliver to the world some of the oddest and most outrageous acts ever committed to vinyl, including the partially underage GTOs, shock-rocker Alice Cooper, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, and Larry "Wild Man" Fischer.

When discovered and signed by Zappa, Fischer was a self-styled 'street singer' with a colorful history and a noticeable lack of songwriting and vocal talent. Born on November 6, 1944, Larry lost his father when he was quite young and his mother was described as being emotionally distant and verbally abusive. Larry had no friends during his childhood and he was reportedly thrown out of high school. At the age of sixteen, he was institutionalized after attacking his mother with a knife. He later made two additional attempts to kill his mother and attacked his brother on at least one occasion as well.

In 1963, he was institutionalized once again, at Camarillo State Hospital, where he was subjected to repeated electroshock 'treatments.' "They did all kinds of things to me," Fischer once said, "like I was like a guinea pig." He was released in 1964 but was committed again two years later, in 1966. Accounts vary as to whether he was released or whether he escaped in this instance. One way or another he was back out in 1968, although he was never welcomed home again and so took to the streets, singing for change. It was there that he was discovered by Zappa, who released Fischer's first single in October 1968 on, appropriately enough, the Bizarre label.

Fischer's magnum opus, An Evening with Wild Man Fischer, hit record stores on April 28, 1969. The double album, produced by Zappa, featured Fischer on the cover holding a knife to a maternal figure. Later that year, Zappa got Fischer a booking on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. It wasn't long though before Larry had bitterly parted ways with Zappa following an incident in which Fischer angrily threw a bottle that narrowly missed hitting infant Moon Unit. Larry thereafter dropped out of sight for several years, surfacing again in 1975 when he wrote and sang a jingle for the newly launched Rhino Records.

In 1977, Rhino returned the favor by releasing Fischer's second album, Wildmania, to less than critical acclaim. Billy Mumy, yet another former child actor, co-produced Fischer's third and fourth albums, Pronounced Normal (1981) and Nothing Scary (1983), both on the Rhino label. Though Mumy maintained a close relationship with Fischer, Wild Man once pulled a gun on the former Twilight Zone and Lost in Space star, who Larry suspected of being involved in a bizarre conspiracy involving Weird Al Yankovic and Dr. Demento.

A few years after the release of Nothing Scary, Mumy recorded a duet featuring the unusual pairing of Fischer and Rosemary Clooney. After that, Wild Man Fischer largely drifted back into obscurity. By 2004, he was living anonymously in an assisted care facility. On June 16, 2011, his tragic life came to an end, reportedly due to a heart condition. Six months earlier, on December 17, 2010, another decidedly offbeat onetime member of the Zappa inner circle, Captain Beefheart, had also passed away.

Don Glen Vliet, born on January 15, 1941, in Glendale, California, was one of Zappa's earliest musical collaborators. Vliet, who moved to Lancaster as a pampered young teen in 1954, was a child prodigy by some reports. He was also the grandson of a second cousin to accused Nazi sympathizer Wallis Simpson, wife of King Edward VIII.

Beefheart first professionally collaborated with Zappa at Pal Studio in 1963, but the demos produced from those sessions were unsuccessful. Vliet then worked for a while as a door-to-door salesman, during which time, if legends are to be believed, he sold a vacuum cleaner to psychedelic pioneer Aldous Huxley. If so, then Huxley must not have gotten much use out of it, since he passed away later that year, just hours after the assassination of John F.Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

By 1965, Beefheart had formed the Magic Band, which would release thirteen albums between 1965 and 1982, albums on which Vliet would play harmonica and saxophone as well as provide his distinctive lead vocals. The first of those albums was Safe as Milk, released in 1967, followed by Strictly Personal in 1968. The band's third album, 1969's Trout Mask Replica, was released by Zappa's Straight Records and is considered to be Beefheart's signature work. To this day, the disc is regarded by some as one of the greatest rock albums of all time, though others have described Vliet's work in considerably less flattering terms.

Whether Vliet was the musical genius some view him as is a topic for others to debate; what is of far more interest here is how that music was created. Trout Mask Replica was recorded in a tiny two-bedroom house with blacked out windows in Woodland Hills. It was there that Beefheart's band members were essentially held prisoner for eight months, with the Captain in total control of everything, including the band members' eating and sleeping schedules. The drummer, John French, has described the atmosphere in that house as "cultlike" and has made ominous references to "brainwashing sessions."

The musicians were restricted from leaving the house and were forced to rehearse for fourteen hours every day. They were subjected to both sleep deprivation and food deprivation, and they were actively encouraged to physically attack each other. Beefheart would frequently utilize physical violence to keep the others in line; French wrote in his memoirs of being "screamed at, beaten up, drugged, humiliated, arrested, starved, stolen from, and thrown down a half-flight of stairs." They lived in poverty and squalor, with public assistance the band's only income. For one full month, the abused musicians had to survive on a single cup of beans each per day. Arrests for shoplifting were not uncommon.

Beefheart also assigned new names to all the band members, "loosening," as Barry Miles wrote, "their hold on their old identities." John French, for example, became Drumbo. So strong was Vliet's hold on his bandmates that though a couple were able to escape the deplorable conditions, they ultimately returned to an environment that was, according to a friend of the band, "positively Mansonesque." For their efforts, the musicians were paid little or nothing. And Beefheart claimed sole credit for composing and arranging the album, though it was in fact a collaborative effort. Later albums would follow much the same patterns.

There certainly doesn't appear to have been any shortage of "Mansonesque" characters populating Laurel Canyon circa 1969, and they mostly seem to have been clustered around Frank Zappa. We have already seen how Vito Paulekas, who ran the Mothers' freak sideshow, had clear parallels to Manson and was even described by those close to him as being very Manson-like. Now we see that Beefheart as well seems to have attended the Manson school of cult leadership. And Zappa himself had some rather Mansonesque qualities, including a dictatorial, autocratic style; a penchant for surrounding himself with an endless stream of very young, impressionable girls; some peculiar ideas about child sexuality; his self-assignment as the leader of a commune; and a fondness for handing out offbeat names.

It should also be mentioned here, I suppose, that Manson associate Phil Kaufman served as Zappa's road manager for a time. And according to Ed Sanders, "In early May [1969] ... Beausoleil went to Frank Zappa, the brilliant composer and producer, and wanted Zappa to come to the ranch to hear the music," an invitation that was reportedly declined. Less than two months later, Beausoleil would conspire to murder musician Gary Hinman.

Nineteen-sixty-nine was also the year that Zappa dissolved the original Mothers of Invention. Together for just five years, there had always been tension within the band, owing primarily to Zappa's dictatorial style. Frank was viewed by many as a "control freak," and he was widely seen as being cold and emotionally distant, even with his immediate family (he chose to spend the vast majority of his time alone in his home studio, where it was understood that he was never to be disturbed}. He was also viewed by band members and others as elitist, owing in part to his habit of staying at a different hotel than the rest of the band while on the road. David Anderle of MGM Records perhaps summed up Zappa best: "I always felt there was something a little totalitarian about Frank ... I was awed by the clarity of the vision and his ability to make it happen ... but it was without warmth."

Some viewed with suspicion Zappa's fondness for taking out full-page ads in the local LA Free Press, ostensibly to report on band news. According to Miles, "there were dark mutterings about Frank's attempt to control the Freak scene." The freak scene, that is, that he openly disdained and yet still sought to control. "The other Mothers," notes Miles, "were concerned by Frank's somewhat messianic diatribes."

Around that same time, Zappa gave up his role as ringleader of the Log Cabin and bought a house high up in the hills of Laurel Canyon, on Woodrow Wilson Drive. In stark contrast to his readily accessible prior lodgings, the new home was isolated and security was very tight, including a guardhouse and a closed-circuit television system. It was there that Zappa would live out the remainder of his years. The Log Cabin, meanwhile, was taken over by Eric Burden of British rock band the Animals. The cabin had by then become a mandatory stop for all visiting 'British Invasion' bands. According to biographer Barry Miles, the cabin's new ringleader didn't much care for working with the former occupant, comparing working with Zappa to "working with Hitler."

Zappa's move, and his newfound obsession with security, was said to be prompted in part by a curious visit to the Log Cabin in the summer of 1969-the summer of the Tate/LaBianca murders. A man identified only as "the Raven" arrived wielding a gun. Little else seems to be known about the incident but it is interesting to note that just a few years earlier, a guy who was very fond of that moniker had arrived in California. Also known as the Reverend Jim Jones of the People's Temple, he would become a rather infamous figure.

Frank Zappa remained an enormously prolific composer, arranger and performer of music throughout his life, sometimes playing with various incarnations of the Mothers. Although never a huge commercial success and almost never heard on the radio, his immense body of work is widely respected among fellow musicians and is considered to be hugely influential. What is of far more interest here though are some specific events from Zappa's later years.

On July 14, 1982, while Zappa was performing on his father's home turf in Palermo, Sicily, a war broke out between tear-gas wielding police and inexplicably armed audience members. According to Miles, the concert was held at the "mafia-controlled Stadia Communale La Favorita and all the security appeared to be made men." The Italian army was soon called in to restore order. Had Zappa's father been alive and in attendance, he might well have joined in the gunplay; he reportedly owned a handgun that he at times threatened to use, and he also was said to enjoy a good brawl now and then.

In September 1985, Frank testified before the Senate Commerce, Technology and Transportation Committee, taking Tipper Gore's PMRC committee to task over the issue of record album labeling. This is said to have ignited in Zappa a passion for politics, to such an extent that he dabbled with the idea of running for president. What he ultimately decided to do instead was serve as something of a front man for organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

In 1990, he visited Czechoslovakia at the request of newly installed president Vaclav Havel, who asked him to serve as a consultant on trade and tourism. Zappa was treated by the new Czech administration (which wasn't nearly as popular at home as it was in the West) as though he was making an official state visit. He announced that he had "come to Czechoslovakia to see Communism die ... I have been an enthusiastic capitalist for years." He also announced his intention of starting up an international consulting firm aimed at breaking down barriers to Western trade and investment. Toward that end, he began meeting with multinational corporate entities that had an interest in investing in Czechoslovakia.

The man who had, as Miles has noted, refused during the Vietnam era "to be drawn into anti-war protests or demonstrations," and who had his whole life been "more content to mock hippies and groupies than to criticize the Vietnam War, the American overthrow of democratic governments in Chile and Iran, or any of the other excesses committed in his name by his government," had now "internalized the whole Time-Life anticommunist line." Following his escapades in Czechoslovakia, Zappa made a number of trips to Russia to facilitate business deals through what he dubbed his "international licensing, consulting and social engineering" business enterprise.

Zappa's role as unofficial front man for the World Bank came to a premature end when he died of prostate cancer on December 4, 1993, just a couple weeks short of his fifty-third birthday. Rather bizarrely, he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave following a private ceremony less than twenty-four hours later. And it was not until the next day, December 6, 1993, with the body already safely in the ground, that his death was announced to the world.

In 2001, son Ahmet began dating actress Rose McGowan (no relation), whose colorful history included spending part of her childhood in the pedophilic Children of God cult. Her father ran a chapter of the sect, which also bequeathed to Hollywood the Phoenix brothers, Joaquin and River, the latter of whom died under mysterious circumstances at the tender age of twenty-three outside the Viper Room, very near the mouth of Laurel Canyon, on Halloween night, 1993. McGowan's previous paramour had been shock-rocker Brain Warner, better known as Marilyn Manson. A fourth cousin of bellicose political commentator and onetime presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, Warner, whose stage surname is an homage to-who else?-Charles Manson, has proudly served as a high priest in Anton LaVey's Church of Satan.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:43 am


"I have an explosive temper if someone aggravates me ... I have been known to put my fists through one or two walls."

-- Steppenwolf vocalist John Kay

"John had a hell of a temper when he was doing drugs."

-- Steve Palmer, a member of one of many incarnations of Steppenwolf

OF ALL THE SINGERS, SONGWRITERS AND MUSICIANS TO ANSWER THE PIED Piper's call summoning them to Laurel Canyon, none took a longer route there than John Kay, the enigmatic frontman for the band Steppenwolf. Kay, as it turns out, came all the way from Nazi Germany, by way of Toronto, Canada and Buffalo, New York, as did his wife and one of his band mates.

Kay was born Joachim Fritz Krauledat on April 12, 1944, in East Prussia, a province of Germany before 1914 that was separated from the rest of the country by provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, though it remained a German-speaking province. After the plunder and annexation of Poland by the Nazis, it once again became a part of the German state, but only for the next five years. After the fall of Nazi Germany, East Prussia ceased to exist, with the northern portion being absorbed by the USSR into Byelorussia and the southern portion placed under the Polish flag.

Kay was born in Tilsit to Fritz and Elsbeth Krauledat. Fritz had enlisted in the German army in 1936 and decided to make a career of it, eventually rising to the rank of Oberwachtmeister, which roughly translates to Brigade Sergeant Major. He was on hand for the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the plunder of France in 1940. With the launch of Operation Barbarossa on the summer solstice of 1941, Fritz was sent to the Russian front. He last saw his wife at Christmastime in 1943. In March of the following year, she received notification of his death.

Between late July and early August of 1944, the widowed Elsbeth left Tilsit with her infant son. It was a fortuitous exit given that the Red Army almost immediately thereafter began bombing the region into oblivion. Elsbeth had been issued a permit that allowed her to travel anywhere in Germany and she used it to move herself and Joachim to Arnstadt, crossing the pre-Berlin Wall border in the process. Upon arrival in Arnstadt, Elsbeth and Joachim were taken under the wing of the Kranz family, who put a roof over their heads and became their benefactors. Soon enough, Elsbeth met Gerhard Kyczinski, a former German soldier and POW who was a mason by trade. In August 1950, Gerhard and Elsbeth married. For the next eight years, they would share a home in Arnstadt with Joachim.

During those years, young Joachim twice vacationed with his mother in the resort town of Travemunde, which Kay later described as "a very popular vacation spot with white beaches and fancy hotels." He also attended the Freie Waldorf Schule, an exclusive private school with a perpetual waiting list. Mother, son and stepfather seemed to travel rather freely, twice crossing over into East Germany and back to visit Gerhard's family. Also while still in Germany, Joachim acquired his first radio and began listening to US Armed Forces Radio, where he first heard an early idol, Little Richard. He also acquired a record player and began collecting albums by Little Richard and others, including Elvis and the Everly Brothers. He also attended screenings of rock'n'roll themed Hollywood films, like Elvis' Love Me Tender. At the age of thirteen, not long before leaving Germany, he acquired his first camera.

It would appear then that Kay experienced a rather privileged upbringing for a young war refugee.

In March of 1958, Gerhard, Elsbeth and Joachim packed up and headed off for Toronto, Canada, where several members of the Krauledat and Kyczinski families had already relocated. The trio opted to travel by plane rather than ship, even though flying was a decidedly luxurious mode of travel in those days. Joachim Krauledat, who would soon become John Kay, entered the Canadian school system in the ninth grade. It is said that he knew virtually no English upon arrival, but within mere months he was reportedly speaking it fluently.

The family quickly acquired a late model Chevy and John acquired his first acoustic guitar-and a reel-to-reel tape recorder. He also discovered that Toronto had far more radio stations playing rock'n'roll music than Germany had had to offer. He discovered other strains of American music as well, including gospel and country. Before long, he would have an electric guitar and an amplifier and speaker, along with a better acoustic guitar.

In April of 1963, Gerhard and Elsbeth relocated once again, this time to Buffalo, New York. John stayed behind in Toronto to finish up high school, joining his parents a couple months later. As recounted by Kay in his autobiography, in Buffalo the family rented "a luxurious main floor flat in a stately old house on Woodward Street out towards Williamsville." Gerhard, according to John, "started his own import-export business," a pretty impressive accomplishment for a guy who had just entered the country.

The family didn't stay long in Buffalo, choosing instead to pull up roots once again and relocate, this time all the way across the country to Los Angeles, California. Elsbeth immediately landed a job at the upscale Bullocks department store in Westwood. Within just a few years, she was named manager of her department. Gerhard, meanwhile, quickly "found the job of his life, working for the German consulate in Los Angeles as the Consul General's chauffer," a job he held from 1964 until 1978. As always, John and his family lived charmed lives; not only did the parents both quickly land good jobs, but the aspiring-rock-star son had the good fortune to land in LA at the dawn of a music revolution!

John lost no time forging a friendship with Morgan Cavett, who was already introduced to readers as the son of Oscar-winning screenwriter Frank Cavett. At the time, Cavett was working as the manager of the New Balladeer coffeehouse. Morgan also happened to be the godson of poet and writer Dorothy Parker, who had been born Dorothy Rothschild and who had herself lived for many years at the mouth of Laurel Canyon, at the famed Garden of Allah apartments (where she attempted more than once to kill herself). Morgan had also gone to school with doomed canyon musician Lowell George and he was a close associate of the Vito Paulekas dance troupe. Kay began regularly sleeping on the floor of Cavett's large home, which sat at the mouth of Laurel Canyon directly behind the Chateau Marmont.

Cavett quit his job at the Balladeer soon enough and Kay took over as manager of the popular club. Among the regulars at the time were soon-to-be-Byrds David Crosby, Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark, and Bryan MacLean, who would become a member of Love. In his off hours, Kay also began hanging out at the Troubadour and was soon working there as a self-styled floor manager. There he met Van Dyke Parks, who was known at the time for hosting drug-fueled parties attended by the likes of David Crosby and Beach Boy Brian Wilson. By that time, Morgan had rented an apartment in Laurel Canyon and John regularly camped out there, sleeping in a large walk-in closet. Kay also became a regular at Ciros and was there, along with Vito and his crew, when the Byrds hit the scene and ignited the folk-rock revolution.

Having quickly formed connections to some of the key players in the nascent Laurel Canyon scene, Kay made the rather bizarre decision to leave Los Angeles and his family behind and return to Toronto, hitchhiking there by way of Buffalo. By then, Toronto's Yorkville district had a flourishing folk scene featuring soon-to-be-stars like Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. It was almost as if Kay had been dispatched back to Canada to point the other artists there in the right direction, which is exactly what he seems to have done.

According to Kay's autobiography, "within a day or two of [his] arrival" in Toronto, he met the manager of a local club and promptly got a booking that lasted several weeks. He was also offered the basement of the club to sleep in. John Kay, it appears, just had a knack for immediately establishing himself in a new town. He quickly joined a band that would come to be known as the Sparrow, which was known for swapping members with another local band known as the Mynah Birds, fronted by Rickey James Matthews. The Mynahs were bankrolled by a local businessman named John Craig Eaton. At the height of their power, the immensely wealthy and influential Eaton family, which is often referred to as 'Canada's Royal Family,' was worth some $2 billion.

Kay recruited bassist Bruce Palmer but then traded him to the Mynah Birds for Nick St. Nicholas, who, like John, had begun life in Nazi Germany. St. Nicholas was born Klaus Karl Kassbaum on September 28, 1943, but, as with John, Kassbaum's family had emigrated to Toronto in the 1950s. Also joining Kay was keyboardist John Raymond Goadsby, another former Mynah Bird who went by the name Goldy McJohn. Rounding out the band were drummer Gerard McCrohan, known as Jerry Edmonton, and his songwriter brother Dennis McCrohan, who also adopted the surname Edmonton before later settling on the name Mars Bonfire.

Mynahs Neil Young and Bruce Palmer soon found their calling and rode out of town for their magical meeting with Stephen Stills. Joni soon headed west as well. Kay, meanwhile, married Jutta Maue, with whom he had much in common. Maue was born in Nazi Germany in February 1944, just a couple of months before John was born. Her father was killed on the Eastern Front in May 1944, not long after Kay's father was likewise killed. After the war, Maue and her family emigrated to Toronto, a seemingly popular destination for German families in the 1950s.

With his new band in tow, Kay soon headed out of town as well -- the first destination being New York City, where the group cut three tracks before returning to Toronto. They were soon back in New York though with a lengthy club booking and a recording contract that kept them there for an extended period of time in 1966. During that time, according to Kay, the band started listening to Edgard Varese, a favorite pastime of future Laurel Canyon musicians.

Later that same year, bookings at the Whisky-a-Go-Go and the club formerly known as Ciros brought the band out to Los Angeles. After about a month though the boys ran out of gigs and Kay resumed his habit of sleeping at Morgan Cavett's apartment. Things were not looking good for the band in LA at that time; they had run out of work and most band members had expired work visas and were in the country illegally. But John Kay, as we have already seen, seems to have had a guardian angel: lilt was like a fairy tale. Here I was, no work, no money, a pregnant wife and no prospects, then in walks this guy living next door, from a successful record label, saying he thought I might have a shot at a contract if I could get a band together. It seemed almost like it was all meant to be. Everything seemed to fall into place at the right time."

Kay quickly began putting together a new band. For guitar duties, strangely enough, he recruited a local high school kid with the rather provocative name of Michael Monarch. According to Monarch himself, quoted in Kay's Magic Carpet Ride, when he joined the band he "had only been playing for less than two years." According to legend, Monarch was just sixteen when he laid down the lead guitar track for Born To Be Wild and just seventeen when he did the same for Magic Carpet Ride.

Through posted notices advertising the band's need for a bass player, John met and hired John Russell Morgane, also known as Rushton Moreve. Jerry Edmonton on drums and Goldy McJohn on keyboards completed the new ensemble, which took the Germanic name Steppenwolf- inspired by the occult-influenced novel of the same name by Herman Hesse-and signed with ABC Dunhill. This formation would not last long though. Over time, Kay, whom Nick St. Nicholas has referred to as "the Fuhrer," would fire nearly everyone of the original band members. And some of their replacements.

The fledgling band rehearsed through the summer of 1967 in a rented garage. By December 1967, though they had been together just a matter of months, ABC decided the band was ready to cut an album. That self-titled debut was recorded in just four days at a cost of just $9,000 and released the very next month. On April 4, 1968, just a few months after the release, Steppenwolf had their national television debut on American Bandstand, lip-syncing to their monster hit, Born To Be Wild.

The week before the band was beamed into America's living rooms, Jutta gave birth to what would be John Kay's only offspring, Shawn Mandy Kay, on March 29, 1968. Growing up, Shawn's circle of friends and classmates would include Carnie and Wendy Wilson (daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson), John Phillips' daughter Chynna, Zappa offspring Moon Unit and Dweezil, Ethan Browne (son of Jackson Browne), and Phil Spector's son Donte. Shawn Kay would later recall that she was intimidated by her father when she was young, adding that, "when he was around, there was a certain amount of tension in the air."

In October 1968, Steppenwolf dropped its second album, unimaginatively entitled The Second. That disc contained the band's second monster hit, Magic Carpet Ride, based on an unfinished song brought to the band by bassist Rushton Moreve. It was to be the band's last top-ten single. It was also, given that Born To Be Wild was donated to the band by the aforementioned Mars Bonfire, the only hit single written by a band member (a lesser hit, The Pusher, was penned by Hoyt Axton, who also wrote Three Dog Night's Joy To The World, and who was both a resident of Laurel Canyon and the son of a US Navy officer).

It makes perfect sense then, I suppose, that following the release of that second album, Moreve was unceremoniously fired by Kay and replaced with Nick St. Nicholas. According to Kay, Moreve had been "becoming increasingly paranoid of the police and would relate to us these wildly imaginative tales of being arrested and beaten." Moreve, it should be noted, was the boyfriend of 'Animal' Huxley, the only granddaughter of the very same Aldous Huxley who had been sold a vacuum cleaner by Captain Beefheart. As Goldy McJohn recalled it, just before being let go, Moreve and Huxley (who was name-checked on the cover of Zappa's Freak Out! album) packed up their belongings and left the state out of fear that there was going to be a massive earthquake that would cause California to sink into the ocean. When that failed to materialize, Moreve ultimately returned to the LA area but was never asked to rejoin the band. He was later killed in a motorcycle accident on July 1, 1981, in Santa Barbara, California at the age of thirty-two.

Steppenwolf released their third album, At Your Birthday Party, in March 1969. The cover art featured a photo of the band taken at the burned-out remains of Canned Heat's former Laurel Canyon home. The disc yielded no top ten singles and was largely a commercial failure. Just a few months later though, the band's career got a massive boost with the release of the film Easy Rider on July 14, 1969. With a soundtrack that prominently featured Born To Be Wild and The Pusher, both pulled from Steppenwolf's debut album, the film gained the band a worldwide audience. It also solidified their image as a Hell's Angels/outlaw biker band. Kay, who fancied himself to be a tough guy, actively embraced that image, frequently appearing with his band at biker rallies and routinely appearing on stage and in publicity photos clad in black leather and with a perpetual scowl.

As 1969 came to a close, Kay and the band released their fourth album, Monster, which sold somewhat better then its predecessor. The band also launched a successful tour in 1970, which included a stop at the Bath Festival of Blues in the UK alongside fellow Laurel Canyon acts the Byrds, Canned Heat and the Mothers of Invention. Another Laurel Canyon band, Three Dog Night, which already had three top ten singles by 1970, tagged along for part of the tour.

Steppenwolf released two more instantly forgettable albums before Kay officially retired the band in 1972. He had already fired Nick St. Nicholas, in part because, as Kay noted in his autobiography, he and the rest of the band "weren't sure what Nick's sexual orientation was or had become." That is apparently a problem when one wants one's band to project a tough, macho image.

Kay had been hinting since the release of Steppenwolf's second album that he had aspirations for a solo career. His first two solo efforts though, released in 1972 and 1973, failed to attract much attention, with the latter of the two stalling out on the charts at number 200. Not surprisingly then, it didn't take Kay long to decide to get the band back together, initially including original members Edmonton and McJohn. Goldy though, whom Kay claimed "had a lot of demons buried deep in his psyche," was fired after the first of three albums the new lineup released, leaving drummer Jerry Edmonton as the only original band member to not be discharged. With the albums failing to gain much traction on the charts, Kay once again retired the band in 1976.

A new version of Steppenwolf soon emerged, however, this one put together by fired former members Goldy McJohn and Nick St. Nicholas. That development though did not sit well with Kay, who felt that he alone had the moral right to use the Steppenwolf name, though he did not have exclusive legal rights to it. Kay would later write that St. Nicholas and McJohn were "both lucky to be alive today after what they did. I knew people who in turn knew people who, for a price, would put a serious hurt on someone with no questions asked." As I may have mentioned, Kay likes to think of himself as something of a bad-ass.

Kay quickly engaged his attorneys in some legal maneuvering to strongarm McJohn and St. Nicholas into signing over all their future royalties to he and Edmonton. He then set about putting together his own version of Steppenwolf, this time leaving out even Edmonton. Kay had decided that, this time around, he alone would cash in on the Steppenwolf name. The reconstituted band embarked on a low-budget tour that featured small venues where band members had to set up and tear down their own equipment. It was a far cry from the band's heyday in the late 1960s and after two failed albums, the second of which was not even released in the US, the band once again called it quits in 1984.

It wasn't long though before Kay, in his own words, "received an offer to tour jointly with the Guess Who, a reconstituted lineup fronted by their original bass player." Kay readily accepted the offer and by doing so lent his tacit approval to a version of the Guess Who that included only one original member. This was, of course, the very same John Kay who had used every means available to prevent his own bass player and keyboardist from using the name Steppenwolf.

The new Steppenwolf lineup released two instantly forgettable albums in 1987 and 1990 before Kay once again retired the band name. He continues to occasionally put out relatively obscure solo efforts, including live albums in 2004 and 2006. Others connected to the band have not fared so well. Steppenwolf's original producer, Gabriel Mekler, who also produced Three Dog Night, died in a motorcycle accident sometime in 1977. Rushton Moreve, as already noted, also perished in a motorcycle accident, in July 1981. Drummer Jerry Edmonton died in a car accident on November 28, 1993. Nick St. Nicholas and Michael Monarch, meanwhile, play in an all-star band dubbed the World Classic Rockers.

And Born To Be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride continue to be played daily on classic rock radio stations.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:44 am


"We definitely started what became the Hippie movement and it spread from there up to Haight-Ashbury and the Fillmore in San Francisco, and then all across the nation."

-- Arthur Lee, vocalist for the band Love

"Arthur was the whitest black guy I knew. He didn't live the black lifestyle, always liked the white way of life, and liked white girls."

-- Producer Skip Taylor

OF ALL THE BANDS TO POUR OUT OF LAUREL CANYON DURING ITS HEYDAY, none is more shrouded in mystery and rumor than Love, fronted by one of the most talented and troubled figures on the Sunset Strip, the menacingly charismatic Arthur Lee. Though Lee and his bandmates never achieved the sales figures of contemporaries like the Doors, the Byrds, and the Mamas and the Papas, the band's body of work continues to be hugely influential and its album Forever Changes is widely considered to be among the greatest rock albums of all time.

Arthur Porter Taylor was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 7, 1945. His mother, Agnes Porter, was the daughter of Ed Porter, a white man, and Malvise "Mal" Mosley, a very fair-skinned black woman. Throughout her life, most of Agnes' friends and acquaintances assumed she was white. Chester Taylor, a black cornet player, was Arthur's father, but Arthur only saw him a few times throughout his life and he consequently never knew whether he had any half-siblings on his father's side.

Arthur's early years were spent in Memphis, where he was raised by his doting-though authoritarian-mother and her sister Vera, who frequently babysat while Agnes worked. Vera was a heavy drinker and smoker who Arthur credited with starting him on cigarettes when he was just three. According to Arthur, Aunt Vera died young from ingesting rat poison, which must have had a considerable impact on the young boy.

Growing up just one block away was friend and classmate Johnny Echols, two years younger than Arthur. In 1952, Agnes and then seven- year-old Arthur uprooted and moved to Los Angeles. The next year, Johnny Echols and his family decided to move to LA as well, strangely finding a home just two doors down from Arthur's new family home. Agnes soon met Clinton "CL." Lee, whom she married on April 23, 1955. Five years later, CL. legally adopted Arthur, who would from then on be known as Arthur Lee.

Clinton had served in the military during WWII before settling in Los Angeles in 1946. Arthur's authorized biography provides the following description of CL. Lee's postwar employment: "Skilled at masonry, he prospered during LA's postwar construction boom. Arthur would often point to the sculptures that adorned buildings along Wilshire Boulevard as evidence of his stepfather's handiwork." Many of those adornments, as with those on the monuments of Washington carved by Carl Franzoni's ancestors, are loaded with Masonic symbolism.

Arthur's LA neighborhood was filled with musical influences. Little Richard, who had such a profound influence on John Kay, was a neighbor, as was singer Bobby Day. Ray Charles had a recording studio nearby. Attending Dorsey High School with Albert were Billy Preston and future Beach Boy Mike Love. And Arthur, unlike other kids in the neighborhood but very much like other future Laurel Canyon stars, had musical instruments and a reel-to-reel tape recorder, as well as a television. He was also known for always having money in his pocket.

Lee was a naturally gifted athlete who served as the captain of Dorsey High's basketball team. He was also known as a tough kid who didn't shy away from a fight. In the late 1950s, legendary fighter Sugar Ray Robinson lived around the corner and Arthur entertained thoughts of becoming a boxer. Instead he opted to pursue a musical career, dropping out of high school during his senior year. Arthur had formed his first successful band while still in school. Dubbed Arthur Lee and the LAGs, their first professional gig was at an exclusive Beverly Hills country club, right across the street from future bandmate Bryan MacLean's family home. The LAGs' unscrupulous manager/agent routinely booked them as the Coasters, or the Drifters, or whoever else had a current hit on the charts. Lee and the rest of the group were, though quite young, very accomplished musicians who could mimic the sound of numerous other bands.

While still a minor, Lee recorded his first single, The Ninth Wave, for prestigious Capitol Records. The release received little promotion though and failed to chart. Also while still a minor, he received a brand new Corvair Monza, courtesy of step-dad Clinton. In 1964, he wrote the song My Diary for vocalist Rosa Lee Brooks. The guitar work on the single was supplied by an unknown musician named Jimi Hendrix, who had never before set foot in a recording studio. That same year, Lee disbanded the LAGs and formed the American Four with longtime friend and classmate Johnny Echols. They soon added acclaimed local drummer Don Conka. The group was essentially a top forty cover band, once again good enough to sound like anyone they chose to mimic, though they did release an original single, Luci Baines, named for the First Daughter who had spent a night out on the town with Gene Clark.

One figure on the canyon scene who would prove to be hugely influential on young Arthur was club owner and former cop/gangster Elmer Valentine. Arthur would later write that "Elmer Valentine was not only a good friend, he was like a father figure to me." Another major influence was the emergence of the Byrds and the human circus surrounding them. As Echols would later recall, "What impressed us when we saw the Byrds were the people in the audience-what the Los Angeles Times called the 'Sherwood Forest People' -because they looked like something out of Robin Hood. It was this huge, fascinating group of eclectic people, all dressed totally bizarrely, with long, long hair. These were the leftovers from the Beat era. They followed the Byrds around."

Those Sherwood Forest people were, of course, the Vito Paulekas crew. And they would soon be following Arthur and his band around as well.

When the band had worked its way up from playing a bowling alley to playing the Brave New World club, they changed their name to the Grass Roots. They also added a rhythm guitarist by the name of Robert Kenneth Beausoleil. Shortly thereafter, they added a second rhythm guitarist, Bryan Maclean, who had grown up amid considerable wealth-his father was an architect for the rich and famous. As Bryan later acknowledged, he "knew everyone in Hollywood." Bryan had been a regular at the New Balladeer club, along with Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Michael Clarke, and John Kay. He had dropped out of high school at seventeen to pursue an art career, but had decided to focus on music instead, unsuccessfully auditioning to be one of the Monkees. Soon after, he met Arthur and Johnny and gave up his temporary employment as the Byrds' road manager.

For a brief time, both Bobby and Bryan filled the rhythm guitar position, making it a six-piece band. However, Arthur soon found that the band wasn't earning enough to carry both of them and so Beausoleil was let go. Bryan was chosen over Bobby in part because Maclean had a connection to the Vito crew, guaranteeing the fledgling band a lively audience and a lot of buzz on the Strip.

Beausoleil would later migrate to the San Francisco area for the famed Summer of love, moving into the former Russian Embassy with filmmaker and occultist Kenneth Anger, who-according to Bobby, quoted in John Gilmore's Garbage People -- "had this contact with this group called 'The Process.'" Anger was also, not too surprisingly, yet another son of the military/intelligence complex; his father, Wilbur Anglemyer, had been an engineer who developed machineguns for Kellogg during WWII and later went to work for Douglas Aircraft.

Beausoleil played in a number of long-forgotten bands, many bearing names with obvious occult overtones. While playing with a lineup known as Orkustra, Bobby once shared a stage with Stephen Stills, Neil Young and the rest of Buffalo Springfield. Another formation he briefly joined was known as the Magick Powerhouse of Oz.

Beausoleil returned to lA in October 1967 following a split with Anger. Meanwhile, Charles Manson, released from prison on March 21, 1967, established his first roots in Los Angeles around December 1967 at a notorious home in Topanga Canyon known as the 'Spiral Staircase,' which by some reports was a cult gathering spot. It was there that Bobby first met Charlie and the two aspiring musicians quickly formed a bond, with Bobby agreeing to join Charlie's band, the Milky Way. That supergroup broke up after only one gig, however, though Bobby and Charlie remained close.

Beausoleil-who, according to John Gilmore's Garbage People was chronically abused as a child by an aunt and uncle, with a former girlfriend describing it as "typical of the worst of the sexual and other abuse brought down on a little kid" -had a brief film career as well, appearing as Lucifer in Anger's Invocation of My Demon Brother (though the footage was originally shot for Lucifer Rising), and as Cupid in Robert Carl Cohen's Mondo Hollywood. later, as previously noted, Beausoleil would compose, perform and record the soundtrack for Lucifer Rising from a prison cell, with help from fellow Mansonite/musician Steve "Clem" Grogan.

At the time he met Manson, Beausoleil was living with musician Gary Hinman, as was Mansonite Mary Brunner; Hinman's Topanga Canyon home reportedly featured a basement drug lab. By 1968, Bobby had his own place in Topanga Canyon, at 19844 Horseshoe lane. By early 1969, he was living in an apartment in laurel Canyon. In July of that year, Bobby, Brunner and Susan Atkins murdered Hinman in his home, reportedly on the orders of Manson. Bobby was arrested on August 6, just two days before the carnage at Cielo Drive. But here, I suppose, I may have digressed just a bit.

Love's initial lineup of Arthur lee on vocals, Johnny Echols on lead guitar, Bryan Maclean on vocals and rhythm guitar, John Fleckenstein on bass and Don Conka on drums would not last long. Actually, as was true with Steppenwolf, none of the configurations of Arthur's band would last long. In those early days, lee and Echols were still living at home with their parents. Bryan though had moved into the upper loft of the Vito Clay Studio; on the lower level was the Byrds' rehearsal space. By the end of summer 1965, Arthur and Johnny had moved in as well.

As John Fleckenstein recalled, "Vito and those guys were like our groupies. They trailed us everywhere we played and brought their whole scene with them." But unlike the other group with whom Arthur's band shared both groupies and rehearsal space, the Grass Roots were considered to be a great live band, arguably the best that laurel Canyon had to offer. The band though had a slight problem-the name Grass Roots was already taken by another band. So in the fall of 1965, Arthur's band became love, claimed by some to be an homage to departed guitarist Bobby Beausoleil, whose nickname was Cupid.

With the name change came a new venue, Bido Lito's, yet another of the small clubs lining the Sunset Strip during its glory days. Vito and company, of course, came along for the ride. Kenny Forssi, who had arrived in LA in 1964, was recruited as the band's new bass player, replacing Fleckenstein. Forssi's roommate, Swiss-born Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer, was subsequently hired to fill in on drums for the frequently absent Conka. Don was, by all accounts, a much more proficient drummer than Snoopy, but his prodigious drug intake made him extremely unreliable.

In January 1966, the band was signed by Jac Holzman to his Elektra Records label. Holzman's was, to say the least, an unlikely success story. Between the years 1950 and 1955, over 1,000 record labels were reportedly launched in the US. Only two survived, one of which was Atlantic Records. The other was Jac Holzman's Elektra Records, launched, as industry legend is written, while Holzman, the son of a Harvard-educated doctor, was a nineteen-year-old student living in the dorms at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. The venture was purportedly financed with just $600, half from Holzman's Bar Mitzvah and the other half from a classmate's veteran's bonus.

As part of Arthur's deal with Holzman, he was given his own publishing company, Grass Roots Records. Publishing royalties were paid through Third Story Music, a company controlled by the shadowy Herb Cohen and his brother. Arthur also had a signed personal management contract with Cohen.

Once signed, the band quickly got to work recording their self-titled debut album. Snoopy laid down all the drum tracks for the perpetually AWOL Conka. And in a strange turn of events, Echols, Forssi, and Maclean actually played their own instruments in the studio, though lee did fill in at times. It is said that lee could play any band member's instrument better than they could, with the notable exception of guitar virtuoso Johnny Echols. And all of the band members, needless to say, could play better than the guys in the band they shared rehearsal space with.

Elektra staff producer Paul Rothchild-who would playa key role in shaping the sound of the second rock band signed by Elektra, the Doors-was doing prison time on a minor drug charge so Holzman and various others filled in as producers on the disc. Released just a few months after the band was signed, the album featured cover art photographed at-where else?-the ruins of a fire-ravaged home in Laurel Canyon.

On June 18, 1966, the band made its first television appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Also appearing was the Bobby Fuller Four, performing their hit song I Fought The Law. Exactly one month later, on July 18, 1966, rising star Bobby Fuller would be found dead in his car, the victim of a very obvious homicide that was treated by the LAPD as a suicide. At about that same time, Arthur moved into what was known as The Castle, a massive estate that occupied a full city block and that was, by some reports, the onetime home of Bela Lugosi. Lee had previously been living on one floor of a large home owned by Elmer Valentine.

It is said that the members of the Doors, and Jim Morrison in particular, idolized Love and its leader, Arthur Lee. The Doors' long, improvisational songs like The End and When the Music's Over were directly inspired by Love's long, improvisational jams, as Ray Manzarek has freely admitted. And Arthur often claimed that Morrison would camp out outside Lee's Laurel Canyon home waiting for a chance to hang out with his label mate. For a time in the mid-1960s, Lee dated Pamela Courson, who would thereafter become Morrison's frequent companion and, upon his death, the sole heir to his sizable estate. Courson was with Morrison when he died under what remains to this day a shroud of mystery. She herself was dead less than three years later, on April 25, 1974, allegedly of a self-administered heroin overdose.

Before recording sessions began for the band's sophomore album, Michael Stuart joined as the group's new drummer, with Snoopy moving over to keyboards. Arthur also added John Barbieri, also known as Tjay Cantrelli, on saxophone and flute. Little is known about the mysterious Cantrelli other than that he apparently hailed from Compton, California. The new additions made Love, for a brief time, a seven-piece band, which Arthur felt was necessary for the intricate arrangements that were to be featured on the album.

Stuart's father worked in the aerospace industry, first in Texas and then in the military town of San Diego, where various other Laurel Canyon notables spent time during their formative years. Stuart scored a scholarship to Pepperdine, followed by a stint at UCLA. Before joining Love, he played with the Sons of Adam, yet another band that had a communal home in everyone's favorite canyon. The Sons had gotten their start in Baltimore, just outside Washington, DC, where they were known as Fender IV. Their new name had been bestowed upon them by Vito associate Kim Fowley.

Da Capo, Love's second album, was produced by Paul Rothchild, who had, as previously noted, been a fixture at Club 47 in Cambridge in the Boston Strangler days. Rothchild's parole officer, ever accommodating, had signed off on him venturing out to California. The cover art for the new disc was once again photographed at a fire-ravaged home in Laurel Canyon, though the sound of the record was much different than the first, fusing jazz with psychedelic rock.

Around the time of the Da Capo sessions, Arthur vacated The Castle and moved into what was dubbed the 'Trip house' on Kirkwood Drive in Laurel Canyon, so named in honor of the fact that the film of that name was shot there. About that very same time, Peter Fonda, star of The Trip, decided to more fully immerse himself in the folk-rock scene by recording an entire solo album that, perhaps mercifully, was never to be released. The disc contained a single penned by up-and-comer Gram Parsons.

As was true of virtually all of Laurel Canyon's stars, the members of Love were of military draft age. As John Einarson's biography of Arthur Lee notes, "Unless you were able to secure a college deferment or a coveted 4-F ineligibility rejection, the draft (compulsory military service) was a cold, looming reality for every adolescent male ... [and] black Americans found themselves drafted in disproportionate quantity." And yet, shockingly enough, every member of every incarnation of the band, black and white alike, deftly avoided military service. Arthur is said to have fooled the draft board by pretending to be gay. Snoopy supposedly did so by showing up sleep-deprived and unwashed. And so on.

Soon after the recording of Da Capo, Arthur dropped Snoopy and Tjay from the roster and love once again became a quintet. The pared down band quickly got to work on the material for what is widely regarded as their masterpiece and essentially their swan song, Forever Changes. Recording sessions began at the dawn of the Summer of love. The band love, meanwhile, made the dubious decision to pass on the Monterey Pop Festival.

Arthur initially brought in Hal Blaine and the rest of the Wrecking Crew for the Forever Changes sessions, which he later described as a ploy to motivate the band. By that time, Echols, Forssi, Maclean and Stuart all had serious heroin habits. Arthur was shooting up as well, but his drug of choice was cocaine. He was also a prolific smoker of hash and an acid head. In any event, the ploy reportedly worked and the band pulled it together enough to complete the sessions, but it was the last time they would record together.

Though now considered one of the finest collections of songs ever pressed on vinyl, Forever Changes received a lukewarm reception when released in November 1967, topping out at number 154 on the charts. Though a local favorite, love had never established a strong national presence. And by 1968, local gigs were drying up and band members weren't above pawning their instruments for drug money. Arthur decided to let Bryan go. Around that same time, road manager Neil Rappaport returned home from a Miami gig and promptly turned up dead. Dark rumors circulated suggesting that band members had murdered Rappaport in a dispute over drugs and money. Years later, Arthur claimed that he "still [didn't] know what happened to him." Some of the rumors circulating suggested that he had been hanged. Snoopy told an interviewer that, "Neil and Johnny [Echols] became shooting partners. And then one day, Johnny fixed Neil a little too much-can you dig it? Technically you could call it murder, but each guy prepares his own needle."

By mid-1968, love had ceased to exist as a band. There hadn't been any formal breakup-Arthur had simply stopped calling the others, who were rapidly descending into a downward spiral of heroin addiction. Forssi was living in the converted garage of a home in laurel Canyon, with his accommodations, according to Arthur, painted entirely black, including the windows. By late summer 1968, lee had assembled a new band he was calling love, though it didn't contain any of the eight musicians who had previously played under that name (John Fleckenstein, Don Conka, Johnny Echols, Kenny Forssi, Bryan Maclean, Snoopy Pfisterer, Tjay Cantrelli, and Michael Stuart). Arthur served as singer, songwriter, manager, booking agent, arranger and producer.

Circa 1969, lee sold the 'Trip house' and moved to a more secluded, secure location off Coldwater Canyon. There he would become something of a recluse, though stepdad C.l., who handled maintenance of the property, was a frequent presence. That same year, Arthur declined an invitation to play at Woodstock, just as he had done with Monterey. He did though release two new love albums in rapid succession, just three months apart at the tail end of 1969. Neither gained any traction on the sales charts. A year later, in December 1970, he tried again with an album entitled False Start. The disc generated a certain amount of buzz owing to the fact that the first track on the album featured the lead guitar work of Jimi Hendrix, who had also helped arrange the song. It was the first release of new music by the guitar legend since his tragic death just three months earlier, on September 18, 1970. The album, nevertheless, failed to sell.

Shortly before his death, Hendrix had talked to lee about putting a new band together, which was to feature the two of them and Steve Winwood. Arthur had another curious connection to Hendrix; both had been lovers of Devon Wilson, who had been one of the last people to see Hendrix alive and who died in a mysterious fall at the Chelsea Hotel just five months after the death of Hendrix. And so it was that Arthur lee was romantically linked to two women, Courson and Wilson, who in turn were romantically linked to two legendary rock stars, Morrison and Hendrix, with all four of them subsequently turning up dead in a span of just three-and-a-half years, from September 1970 through April 1974.

lee released his first solo album, Vindicator, in late 1972. It was poorly reviewed and failed to generate much in the way of sales, so Arthur put together a new version of love and came back with Reel to Real in 1975. No one seemed to really care. Rumors soon began to circulate that Arthur was reduced to working as a house painter or, worse yet, was panhandling on Sunset Blvd. If true, it was a remarkable fall from grace for a guy accustomed to such luxuries as getting his clothes custom-made. He would remain a rather elusive enigma for the next several years, and then begin a series of incarcerations. Meanwhile, in 1980, his uncle, Johnson Porter, was gunned down on the mean streets of Los Angeles.

In December 1983, lee was arrested and charged with arson, a crime that he did time for at the California Institution for Men in Chino, California. Upon his release, he left LA for Memphis, returning to LA in 1988, only to soon be arrested and charged with auto theft, a crime for which he briefly served more time. Upon his release this time, he moved into his girlfriend's apartment in Valley Village, just north of Coldwater Canyon. A year-and-a-half later, in March 1991, he sold fifty percent of his song publishing catalog to raise cash.

One year later, Arthur released what was to be his last album of new music, Arthur Lee and Love. Once again, it was not well received by fans or critics. After remaining largely out of sight for the next three years, lee was arrested on June 10, 1995, for discharging a firearm off his balcony. He was also found to be in possession of a cache of armor-piercing Teflon bullets and, of course, drugs. like many of his contemporaries in the peace-and-love crowd, Arthur had a longtime fondness for guns. less than three weeks later, he was arrested once again for a domestic violence incident.

On June 27, 1996, lee was convicted on the weapon and drug charges, a 'third strike' under California law that resulted in a twelve-and-a-half year prison sentence. At the end of 2001, he was granted an appeal and released to face a new trial; at retrial he was convicted of lesser charges and sentenced to time served. Arthur was a free man once again, but that freedom proved to be rather short-lived; on August 3, 2006, lee passed away in Memphis after a battle with leukemia.

Arthur was not the only member of the band to spend time in a California correctional facility. Don Conka, the band's original drummer, though he never actually played on any love records, reportedly served ten years or more on drug-related charges. In latter years, he rejoined Arthur in reformulated versions of love, though nothing that came from those sessions and performances was recorded. Conka died on September 24, 2004; many who knew him were surprised that he hadn't died years earlier.

Bryan Maclean initially walked away from the music business following his discharge from the band. As one might expect from a kid born into a life of privilege, he dabbled for a time in the world of high finance, trading in stocks and real estate before suffering a nervous breakdown and then finding his salvation in the mid-1970s with an Evangelical Christian ministry. He then returned to the music industry, focusing largely on Christian music and collaborating at times with his half-sister, Maria McKee, vocalist for the short-lived band lone Justice. On Christmas Day 1998, Maclean was dining with writer Kevin Delaney at a Los Angeles eatery when Bryan excused himself to use the restroom, where he promptly collapsed and died of a reported heart attack at the relatively young age of fifty-two. Delaney had been working on a book about the legendary band, but that book never materialized.

The fate of Tjay Cantrelli is one of many lingering mysteries that surround the band. It is generally assumed that he died sometime in the early 1990s, but no one really knows for sure. Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer and Michael Stuart, now known as Michael Stuart-Ware, both reportedly disappeared for varying lengths of time but both eventually resurfaced, with Stuart-Ware publishing a biography of the band in 2003 and Snoopy releasing an obscure solo album in 2008.

Another enduring mystery surrounds the post-love activities of Johnny Echols and Ken Forssi, both of whom dropped out of sight for an extended period of time. According to persistent rumors, the pair were reduced to holding up donut shops to get drug money, resulting in lengthy prison sentences following convictions on multiple counts of armed robbery. Echols has claimed the rumors are untrue, but he has acknowledged that the pair were arrested outside an LA donut shop, and the fact remains that the two disappeared for nearly twenty years.

Forssi, who showed quite an aptitude for aerospace engineering before embarking on a music career, died of a brain tumor on January 5, 1998, the same year as Maclean's curious death. It is said that he had been obsessed with the notion of global political conspiracies in his final years. His alleged partner-in-crime, Johnny Echols, is currently living in the 'New Age' mecca of Sedona, Arizona.

Ken Forssi was not, it should perhaps be noted, the only laurel Canyon local with prior connections to the aerospace industry; at least two of Charlie's girls had such connections as well. Nancy Pittman, who was introduced to the Manson Family by actress Angela Lansbury, was the daughter of an aerospace engineer who designed missile guidance systems. And 'Squeaky' Fromme, childhood friend of actor/comedian Phil Hartman, was the daughter of yet another aerospace worker, one who has been described as being abusively authoritarian.

Arthur Lee also had, by numerous accounts, an authoritarian streak of his own. According to drummer Snoopy, Lee was "a megalomaniac; extremely authoritarian." Record producer David Anderle noted that he didn't "want to say that Arthur was demonic, but he was very manipulative and destructive." Lee also had undeniable charisma and a commanding, and somewhat menacing, stage presence. Michael Ware has written that, "Arthur had ... an aura of calm, quiet power ... he seemed better than 'regular' human beings. More capable. Everyone looked up to him and respected him, and feared him."

Like others in this saga, Arthur Lee also appears to have suffered with a rather pronounced dissociative disorder. Drummer Gary Stern once said that he believed "there were two Arthurs, as if he was schizophrenic." Rock'n'roll photographer Herbie Worthington described Arthur as "a walking contradiction. He could be the sweetest person one minute and then his mind would click and he could be an asshole." Worthington's take on Lee, needless to say, sounds hauntingly like Bonnie Clark's take on brother Gene: "He could be very warm and loving, but that could change in a heartbeat."
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:46 am


"Dennis Wilson was killed by my shadow because he took my music and changed the words from my soul."

-- Charles Manson

ARTHUR LEE WAS CERTAINLY NOT WITHOUT RIVALS FOR THE TITLE OF 'MOST talented yet troubled musician on the Sunset Strip' in the 1960s. Many would argue that the rightful holder of that crown was the man whose eccentricities are the stuff of legend-Brian Wilson, the primary creative force behind the spectacular rise and enduring success of the Beach Boys.

The Beach Boys were somewhat unique among the bands calling Laurel Canyon home back in the day. For starters, they dropped their first album before there was a Laurel Canyon scene, and before there was a British Invasion as well. And their squeaky clean, all-American public image was seriously at odds with the look favored by their longhaired, bearded peers. Their music as well, initially focused almost exclusively on surfing, cars and girls, seemed far removed from the folk-rock revolution swirling around bands like the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield.

Some readers may be inclined to dismiss the Beach Boys as being roughly on par with that other much-maligned Laurel Canyon band, the Monkees. But as was true of Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith, the Wilson brothers and their band mates were very much welcomed as peers by the rest of the canyon community. Brian Wilson was, in fact, looked upon as an almost God-like figure, regarded as arguably the finest musician, songwriter, producer and arranger of his era. No less a figure than David Crosby has said that, in the 1960s, "Brian was the most highly regarded musician in America, hands down."

The story of the Beach Boys begins in the late 1700s, when the Wilson clan first ventured across the Atlantic and put down roots in New York. Henry Wilson, born in 1804, was the first American-born member of the family. He moved to Ohio where, according to Peter Carlin, "he worked as a stonemason." Not unlike Carl Franzoni's father. And Arthur Lee's stepfather. And John Kay's stepfather. There might be a pattern developing here.

In the late nineteenth century, William Henry Wilson moved to Kansas to try his hand at farming, but soon lost interest in that and went into the industrial plumbing business instead. Again according to Carlin, he soon scored "contracts to work on the state's new reformatory system." There was, no doubt, lots of money to be made in the prison- building business. Some of that money was invested in ten acres of prime farmland in Escondido, California, where he arrived around 1904. By 1905 though, he was back in Kansas in the plumbing business. William Henry's son, William Coral "Buddy" Wilson, set out for California a decade later, in 1914.

Buddy has been described by Carlin as "Moody and scattered, plagued by searing headaches and a self-destructive thirst for whiskey ... Often awash in alcohol and self-pity, Buddy's bile regularly boiled over into violence, directed most often at [wife] Edith. But he could also turn his fists on his children." One of those children, who came to blows with his dad on more than one occasion, was Murry Gage Wilson, born July 2, 1917. Murry reportedly despised his abusive father and after the death of his mother never saw or spoke to him again.

Murry left school in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, and, though many Americans were struggling to eke out a living any way they could, he had no trouble finding work as a clerk with the Southern California Gas Company. On March 26, 1938, he married Audree Korthof, with whom he would have three boys, two of them born in curious proximity to the summer and winter solstices: Brian Douglas Wilson, born June 20, 1942; Dennis Carl Wilson, born December 4, 1944; and Carl Dean Wilson, born December 21, 1946.

By 1942, Murry had landed a better job as a junior administrator at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. A few years later, he took a foreman's position at AiResearch, an aeronautics firm tasked with manufacturing parts for Boeing civilian and military aircraft. He next decided to go into business for himself, opening an industrial equipment rental company in South Gate that he called ABLE Machinery.

Like his father before him, described by Steven Gaines in Heroes and Villains as having an "explosive temper," Murry was widely regarded as being volatile and prone to violence. Son Dennis would say that he and his brothers had "had a shitty childhood. Our dad used to whale on us... That asshole beat the shit out of us." The chronic abuse, he noted, led to both of his brothers being bed-wetters into their teens. Gaines wrote that, "on many occasions [Murry's] punishments went beyond simple beatings into the realm of the sadistic." It is said that Dennis, the most rebellious of the three boys and therefore the most frequent target of Murry's wrath, was on various occasions beaten with a 2 x 4 and burned with matches. One particularly savage beating delivered to brother Brian when he was just two left him nearly deaf in his right ear.

Even more disturbing if true was another aspect of the boys' childhoods that Dennis would later allude to when he would tell people cryptic stories about being raped by black men.

Murry's younger sister Emily had also married in 1938, to Milton Love, whose family owned a thriving Los Angeles-area sheet metal business. Milton and Emily lived in a luxurious 5,000 square foot villa in Baldwin Hills with their six offspring, the oldest of whom was Mike Love. The couple were said to be rather rigid disciplinarians.

Following his graduation from high school, Brian began taking music and psychology classes at EI Camino Junior College. It was at that time that the Beach Boys, conceived as a family business, came into being. Brian was joined by brother Dennis, who would evolve into the band's drummer, and brother Carl, who would become the group's lead guitarist, as well as cousin Mike Love and neighbor/classmate Al Jardine. Dennis, the only real surfer in the band, is credited with suggesting the group's musical direction. The band's first single, Surfin', was recorded in September 1961 and released December 8 of that same year. The song quickly climbed to numbers two on the local charts and seventyfive on the national Billboard charts. Brian promptly dropped out of college to devote his undivided attention to music. Dennis was just seventeen at the time and Carl was not quite fifteen. They were, it appears, getting into the music business at the right time-in the decade from 1955 to 1965, record sales increased tenfold, from about $60 million annually to $600 million.

Murry almost immediately appointed himself the band's manager and producer, while assigning Audree bookkeeping duties. He then formed the Sea of Tunes publishing company to handle Brian's songs, granting himself controlling interest. He also got the boys a contract with prestigious Capitol Records. The Beach Boys offices, fortuitously enough, would end up being located right across the hall from the offices of master publicist Derek Taylor, so they would naturally become clients. Taylor would arrive in Los Angeles seeking work as an independent press agent just in time to take on the Byrds as his star clients. But first he would make quite a name for himself in the UK by generating a media firestorm around a fledgling band known as the Beatles.

Throughout his life, Brian worked with a series of collaborators, many of them with interesting connections. His first such collaborator was Gary Usher, an aspiring twenty-year-old musician who, according to industry legend, happened to be walking down a Hawthorne, California, street while visiting a relative when he heard the Boys in their home studio working on the song Surfin' Safari and, intrigued, knocked on the door. Usher is credited with starting what would become a Beach Boys trademark-songs about cars.

On June 4, 1962, with Dennis and Carl still just seventeen and fifteen, Capitol released the Beach Boys' first major label single, Surfin' Safari, backed by one of Usher's automotive songs, 409. Both songs soared up the charts, leading to a summer tour and a commitment from Capitol for a full album. By October, Surfin' Safari the album had debuted and Murry had the band booked at Pandora's Box. He also managed to convince Capitol to give up producing duties to Brian. Though just twenty years old, Brian Wilson was granted unprecedented artistic control, serving as the band's songwriter, producer and arranger. He would prove to be amazingly proficient at those duties, putting out an astounding ten albums in just over three years, beginning with Surfin' USA in March of 1963, which climbed to number three on the Billboard charts, and carrying through to the ground breaking Pet Sounds in May of 1966. Along the way, Brian wrote and recorded for other artists as well. After Pet Sounds though, following the much-publicized failureto- launch of Smile, his output became considerably more erratic and of decidedly variable quality.

Back in those early days at Pandora's Box, Brian met and was immediately drawn to Marilyn Rovell, who, along with her sister Diane, made up two-thirds of the vocal group the Honeys. The Rovell family home on Sierra Bonita Drive soon became Brian's favorite hangout, despite the fact that he was twenty and the object of his affections was just fourteen. The pair quickly fell into an illicit romantic relationship, as Carlin writes, "seemingly with the knowledge and permission of [Marilyn's parents], who were sleeping under the same roof at the time."

In the fall of 1964, Brian moved into his own apartment on Hollywood Blvd., where Marilyn, still just fifteen, was a frequent guest. The two were married by the end of the year. Brian though was not the only Beach Boy with a preference for very young girls. Brother Dennis would later begin an affair with Carole Freedman, who, though just sixteen, had already been married and was the mother of a one-year-old son (rumored to have been fathered by Jim Morrison). Brother Carl would marry barely sixteen-year-old Anne Hinsche, the daughter of a wealthy casino owner from the Philippines. Mike Love's second wife would be seventeen-year-old Suzanne Belcher. In the summer of 1968, also known as the summer of Manson, Dennis would begin an affair with fifteen- year-old Diane Adams. And shortly before his death, Dennis would marry Shawn Love, who, in addition to being only fifteen when she moved in with Dennis, then well into his thirties, was by most accounts the illegitimate daughter of first cousin and bandmate Mike Love!

The lyrics to some of the Beach Boys' songs also at times revealed a taste for underage girls, which is often the case in rock'n'roll records. This was particularly evident in tracks such as I Wanna Pick You Up and Hey Little Tomboy. And Brian once shared with an interviewer some disturbing observations concerning his then three-year-old daughter Carnie. After describing her sexual experimentation, which he attributed to her having picked things up from observing her parents, he concluded: "It just goes to prove that if you don't hide anything from kids, they'll start doing things they normally wouldn't do until much later."

Around the time that Brian married Marilyn, he fell into the social circle of Loren Schwartz and Tony Asher, best friends from their days together at Santa Monica High School. Asher, the son of silent film star Laura LaPlante and movie producer Irving Asher, had grown up in a sprawling Westside mansion, surrounded by Hollywood luminaries. Schwartz was yet another former child actor whose home functioned as the gathering spot for the clique, which also at times included Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn and Van Dyke Parks. It was at Loren's place that Brian was first introduced to pot and acid.

In 1965, Brian and Marilyn bought their first real home, on Laurel Way, where Schwartz was a regular visitor. By then, Brian had been heavily influenced by the work of deranged producer Phil Spector, having repeatedly sat in on Spector's recording sessions with the Wrecking Crew, who became the musicians featured on most of the classic Beach Boy recordings. Brian was also by that time regularly getting his hair styled at the salon of a guy named Jay Sebring, who Sammy Davis, Jr. credited with having introduced him to Satanism.

Two of the guys from Schwartz's social circle, Tony Asher and Van Dyke Parks, would later become Brian's two most acclaimed collaborators, Asher on Pet Sounds and Parks on the legendary lost album, Smile. Parks was the son of a Jungian psychiatrist as well as being, as previously noted, another former child actor. A few years before the Smile sessions, Van Dyke's older brother, Benjamin Riley Parks, was killed in unusual circumstances in Frankfurt, Germany, while on an unspecified assignment for the US State Department. According to Richard Henderson, writing in Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle, Benjamin had been the "youngest member of the State Department to date" and a "pall of uncertainty surrounded the tragedy, as evidence suggested that his brother could have been a casualty of the Cold War." That, of course, would seem to suggest that Parks was, in reality, doing intelligence work under State Department cover.

Though Wilson and Parks were previously acquainted through Schwartz, Terry Melcher is credited with getting the pair together as a songwriting team; Melcher reintroduced the two at a party at his 10050 Cielo Drive residence and they got to work soon after that at Brian's home studio on Laurel Way. Melcher had recently been one half of the vocal duo Bruce & Terry; the other half had been Bruce Johnston, who in 1965 became a touring member of the Beach Boys, replacing Glen Campbell: Both were replacements for Brian, who was always far more comfortable in the studio than on the stage.

By 1967, Brian and Marilyn had relocated to Bellagio Road in Bel Air, to a home reportedly once owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs. According to Gaines, "The house boasted ... a hidden study that could be entered by a secret door behind a bookcase." Around that same time, Brian developed a ravenous appetite for Desbutals, a potent combination of methamphetamine and pentobarbital that was, remarkably enough, legally available with a prescription at the time. His bedside reading material in those days included the novels of Hermann Hesse, who inspired the name of John Kay's band, and literature on the Subud philosophy, which inspired Jim/Roger McGuinn's name change.

Also in 1967, Brian made the decision, just two weeks before show time, to cancel the Beach Boys' booking for the Monterey Pop Festival. Wilson was of the opinion that his band wouldn't quite fit in with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and he was probably correct. By the next year, 1968, the Boys were clearly out of step with popular youth culture.

Around that time, Brian took on a side project-building a band around his good friend Danny Hutton. Born in Ireland in 1942, Hutton had moved to the US as a child and grown up in Los Angeles. Before hooking up with Wilson, he had produced tunes and done voiceover work for Hanna-Barbera and had also, like many of his peers, auditioned to be a Monkee. With Wilson's help, he joined with Cory Wells and Chuck Negron to form a vocal trio originally named Redwood. Their first singles were recorded and produced by Brian in his home studio.

Wells was born Emil Lewandowsky in 1942 in Buffalo, New York, where he was raised by his mother and a violently abusive stepfather. He joined the US Air Force right out of high school, in large part to escape his home life. After being discharged, he formed the Enemies and soon relocated to Los Angeles, just in time to join the emerging scene and become the house band for a time at the Whisky. Negron was also born in 1942, in New York City. Raised in the Bronx, Negron was a high school basketball star who had been recruited to play for a college in California. He would later become a raging heroin addict for some twenty years and make three-dozen failed rehab attempts before finally getting clean.

Brian Wilson wanted to sign the new band to the Beach Boys' Brother Records, but that idea was vetoed by Brian's brothers and cousin. It was probably not the best financial decision by the other Beach Boys given that the new band, renamed Three Dog Night, quickly became one of the most successful recording acts of the era, selling millions of albums and releasing a long string of hit songs, many of which, including Harry Nilsson's One, Paul Williams' Just An Old Fashioned Love Song, and Randy Newman's Mama Told Me Not to Come, were written by other famous Laurel Canyon residents.

Nineteen-sixty-eight proved to be a rather strange and eventful year for many of the Beach Boys. Mike Love, who had bought a house in Coldwater Canyon in the summer of 1967, ventured off to India to visit the personal compound of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and engage in some Transcendental Meditation. Perhaps he was seeking a little anger management. In Catch a Wave, Carlin notes that "barely harnessed rage was a recurring feature of Mike's public persona." In Heroes and Villains, he is described as "a pretty evil guy, kind of like a secret service agent, with a real military attitude." Joining Love at the compound were all four Beatles, singer/songwriter Donovan, and Mia and Prudence Farrow.

Brian, meanwhile, found himself committed to a mental hospital in 1968, which very likely means, given the era, that he was subjected to electroshock 'therapy' and heavy doses of anti-psychotic drugs. In February 1970, cousin Mike Love would also find himself committed to a mental hospital, but only, according to Carlin, after "a long, high-speed car chase through Hollywood as he attempted to evade cars driven by his father and brothers." Love was taken away in a straightjacket for involuntary treatment.

It was Dennis Wilson though who would later have the most memorable 1968 stories to tell, though he would claim to have virtually no memories of that time. Early in the year, he moved to Will Rogers' former home at 14400 Sunset Blvd., at the mouth of Rustic Canyon. It was there that, through the summer of 1968, he played host to Charles Manson and a number of his followers. Wilson not only provided the Family with food and very comfortable accommodations, he also picked up the tab for their medical expenses and allowed Charlie and Co. the use of his expensive vehicles, at least one of which, a Ferrari, was wrecked by aspiring musician Steve "Clem" Grogan, who was barely sixteen at the time.

Through Dennis, Manson met and gained the admiration of various other Laurel Canyon regulars, including Terry Melcher and Gregg Jakobson. Dennis also took Charlie on several occasions to record some of his songs at brother Brian's home studio, where Manson met Brian and his then-collaborator, Van Dyke Parks, and where Redwood was also recording at the time. No recordings from those sessions have ever seen the light of day, though one of Manson's songs, Cease To Exist, was essentially stolen by Dennis and renamed Never Learn Not To Love.

On November 22, 1968, the fifth anniversary of the assassination of JFK, the Beatles released what is known as "the White Album" (The 8eatles), which would allegedly inspire the 'Helter Skelter' Manson murders. Just days after the Beatles' release, the Beach Boys released the single Bluebirds Over The Mountain backed by the Manson b-side Never Learn Not To Love. The next year, Dennis told an interviewer that, "Sometimes the Wizard frightens me-Charlie Manson, who is another friend of mine, says he is God and the devil! He sings, plays and writes poetry." Wilson added that Brother Records would likely be releasing an album by the aspiring singer/songwriter. But Manson, like Three Dog Night, ended up taking his talents elsewhere.

By 1969, Brian appeared to have lost interest in making music and was selling vitamins out of a health food store in West Hollywood. In November of that year, Murry sold Brian's Sea of Tunes song catalog to A&M, with Brian reportedly not seeing a penny of the proceeds. The next year, the band hired a new publicist, former radio newsman Jack Rieley, who many considered to be something of a huckster. According to Gaines, a "report claimed that Jack was in the employ of a Washington, DC, right-wing conservative organization called the Stern Concern."

As the early 1970s rolled around, Brian took to hanging out at Danny Hutton's house, which was, not surprisingly, on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon. The home's most compelling feature was the 'party room' with blacked-out windows, where piles of cocaine could usually be found. Wilson wasn't the only regular visitor-Ringo Starr was known to hang out there as well, as was John Lennon and his sidekick Harry Nilsson. Keith Moon, who would soon turn up dead in Nilsson's home, was a regular as well.

The world barely bothered to say goodbye to Murry Wilson, who passed away on June 4, 1973 after suffering a massive heart attack. So loathed was he that neither Brian nor Dennis bothered to show up for his funeral.

Around the time of Murry's death, Brian began working with Tandyn Almer, one of the more curious figures circulating around the Sunset Strip scene. Almer's biggest claim to fame was penning the song Along Comes Mary, which was a massive hit for the Association in 1966. The following year, Almer appeared on a CBS special entitled Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, hosted by Leonard Bernstein. Showcasing the best of the new acts, the show also featured Frank Zappa, Hollie Graham Nash, Byrd Roger McGuinn, and Beach Boy Brian Wilson. Tandyn Almer was clearly expected to be the next big thing, but that never came to pass.

The project that Brian initially sought Almer's help with was a bizarre one-writing new lyrics for his beloved old songs. That project was ultimately aborted though and Wilson instead penned some new songs with Almer, including the 1973 hit Sail On, Sailor. Around 1974, after completing his work with Brian, Almer left LA and disappeared. For decades, no one knew his whereabouts and there was much speculation that he was dead. Not known until his actual death, on January 8, 2013, was that he had been alive and well and living a reclusive life in and near Washington, DC for nearly forty years! He died in a nondescript basement apartment in, of all places, McLean, Virginia. What he was doing for all those years living in the CIA's backyard will likely forever remain a mystery.

On June 24, 1974, the Beach Boys released Endless Summer, a double album of their early hits, and for the first time in years they were back on the charts and drawing huge crowds at their concerts. The record spent three full years on the charts and sold more than three million copies. With Brian Wilson once again a valuable commodity, Stan Love-younger brother of Mike, former NBA player, and at 6' 9" a physically imposing figure-was assigned as a full-time minder and bodyguard for the perpetually troubled songwriter.

By 1975, Stephen Love, another brother, had taken over as the band's manager and the wildly controversial Eugene Landy had replaced Stan Love as Brian's minder. Landy preached the gospel of complete control over his patients' personal, professional, social, financial and sexual lives. Employing an army of minions, he monitored, recorded and controlled every aspect of Brian's life, with strong indications that he also kept him heavily drugged. Wilson was treated like a child and constantly humiliated by his coterie of handlers.

Landy's outlandish and ever-escalating fees led to his ouster by the rest of the Beach Boys the following year. He was replaced with a brawny trio of bodyguards/minders: towering Stan Love, former professional football player and Playgirl model Rocky Pamplin, and Steve Korthoff, another Wilson cousin and a former US Marine. Brian also retained a new psychiatrist, Steve Schwartz, but as Carlin reveals, Schwartz didn't last long: "One day the phone rang and a strange doctor asked Brian to come see him; when Brian arrived at the office, he was told that Dr. Schwartz had been in a terrible camping accident and had fallen off the side of a mountain to his death." Wilson had apparently picked an unacceptable handler.

In late summer 1978, Brian and Marilyn separated, ending their troubled marriage amid allegations that Brian had supplied drugs to his two very young daughters. Around that same time, Brian spent several months in the Brotman Memorial Hospital's psychiatric ward.

The summer before, Dennis had released the first solo album by a Beach Boy, the critically acclaimed but now largely forgotten Pacific Ocean Blue. The album was co-written and co-produced by fellow Manson fan Gregg Jakobson. By the end of the year, Dennis was living in Coldwater Canyon with Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, a British band that had been transformed into a Laurel Canyon band following the mid-1970s addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Wilson lived with McVie for more than two years, during which time the home's pool house burned to the ground.

As 1980 rolled around, the Beach Boys could be found playing a benefit concert in support of the presidential campaign of former spymaster George H.W. Bush. Early the next year, they played one of the inaugural balls for the incoming administration, putting their stamp of approval on the Reagan/Bush era. It wasn't the first time the Reagan and Wilson families had crossed paths; Dennis had once had a brief affair with Reagan daughter Patti Davis, who also had a relationship with Eagle Bernie Leadon. The Boys later played a private birthday bash for then-Vice President Bush.

Around the time of the Reagan inauguration, Stan Love and Rocky Pamplin invaded the home of Dennis Wilson, who by then was said to have a serious alcohol addiction, and savagely beat him. Wilson was reportedly kicked, stomped, bludgeoned with a telephone receiver and thrown through a plate glass window. The assault, later described by Love as "one of the most brutal beatings ever," left Wilson in the hospital with broken ribs and a battered face. Love and Pamplin were served with restraining orders and received fines and probation for the attack, which was allegedly motivated by the desire to prevent Dennis from supplying drugs to Brian. It seems likely though that it was actually motivated by Mike Love's rage over Dennis' affair with his illegitimate and underage daughter.

After having a son together in September 1982, Dennis and Shawn were married on July 28, 1983. The marriage though was a violent and turbulent one, with divorce papers filed just four months later, in November 1983. The divorce case never made it to court though because Dennis allegedly drowned in thirteen feet of water in a Marina Del Rey boat slip the next month, on December 28, 1983. At the time, he reportedly had no home of his own and had taken to crashing at friends' houses. He was largely estranged from his brothers and cousins, once telling an interviewer that if "there wasn't the Beach Boys and there wasn't music, I would not even talk to them."

Dennis was known throughout his adult life for living life in the fast lane, with a fondness for fast cars, faster women and mass quantities of controlled substances. He was married five times in his brief thirty-nine years on this planet, a record bested by cousin Mike Love, who according to Carlin had already been married and divorced six times by 1981. One of Dennis' paramours, according to a court filing, was one of Love's wives. Another, as previously stated, was Mike's daughter. Dennis was also known for having expensive tastes and for being generous to a fault. He was said to be obsessed with sex and to at times refer to himself as 'The Wood.' All of which, along with his obvious interest in music, made Dennis an ideal companion for Charlie Manson, who continued to see Dennis from time to time after the summer of 1968, even turning up at his door a day or two after the Cielo Drive murders.

A year before Dennis' untimely death, Eugene Landy had reentered Brian's life. He would remain in control of Wilson this time for nearly a decade, pocketing millions of dollars in fees along the way. The California Board of Medical Quality Assurance ultimately filed charges against Landy, leading to him surrendering his license to practice psychology in the state. That did not, however, end his complete control over Brian's life; Landy soldiered on, claiming that Brian was no longer his patient and that the two were now creative and business partners.

In May 1990, Stan Love filed to be Brian's legal conservator, igniting a battle over, quite literally, the control of Brian Wilson. That battle came to an end on February 3, 1992, when Landy was ordered by the courts to permanently remove himself from Brian's life. Wilson remained curiously conflicted about his longtime therapist/controller, claiming at one time that he slipped so far into the abyss under Landy's care that he attempted suicide in 1985, but also contending that Landy's death on March 22, 2006 left him devastated.

A few years after Brian was liberated from Landy's control, he married Melinda Ledbetter, with whom he adopted five kids. A couple years later, in December 1997, Audree Wilson, matriarch of the clan, passed away at the age of eighty. Carl Wilson succumbed to cancer just two months later, on February 6, 1998, leaving Brian as the last Wilson brother standing, an outcome that few in the 1960s and 1970s would have likely predicted. Following Carl's death, Mike Love, ever the authoritarian control freak (because every Laurel Canyon band had to have one), worked diligently to oust Al Jardine from the touring band, leaving himself in complete control of a band that featured him as the only original member.

Brian, meanwhile, finally completed the long overdue Smile project. He debuted the work live from the stage in 2004, and followed with an album in September of that same year, nearly forty years after the album's originally intended release date.

As with various other artists profiled herein, there is little question that Brian Wilson has throughout his life suffered from a serious dissociative disorder. He has at times complained of hearing disembodied voices. His biographers have frequently described what the psychiatric community would identify as 'fugue states.' Gaines, for example, has written that, "Often Brian would disappear," turning up days later "penniless in Watts or East LA." Carlin has likewise described an incident that involved Brian going missing for days before turning up in a gay bar in San Diego happily playing the piano for drinks. Carlin also provided a revealing description of Brian's writing technique: "While composing, Brian appeared strangely absent, as if he were functioning less as a conscious artist than as a kind of antenna."



* Campbell, a former member of the Wrecking Crew, was another member of the Laurel Canyon community with curious views on the war and the draft. He told Variety magazine back in the 1960s that protestors who were burning their draft cards "should be hung ... if you don't have enough guts to fight for your country, you're not a man."
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:46 am


"What struck both of us was that there were huge gaps in Houdini's life story and some puzzling inconsistencies. So we embarked on a journey to discover the real man. Early on, we discovered an important connection that most biographers seemed to miss."

-- From the Introduction to The Secret Life of Houdini, by William Kalush and Larry Sloman

THERE IS CONSIDERABLE DEBATE OVER THE QUESTION OF WHETHER HARRY Houdini ever lived in the Laurel Canyon home known locally as the 'Houdini House.' Even if Houdini did live in the home that now lies in ruins, his story would seem to have little relevance here. After all, Houdini, widely considered to be the consummate entertainer of his era, reached the peak of his career long before there was a Laurel Canyon -- before there was even that magical place known as Hollywood. But perhaps there is still something to gain through an examination of the life of the famed magician.

What are generally claimed to be the basic details of Harry Houdini's life can be found in several published biographies. Born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Hungary, on March 24, 1874, he was the fourth of seven children born to Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weisz and the former Cecelia Steiner. The family later changed the spelling of their names and Houdini became Ehrich Weiss, known by friends and family as "Ehrie," which ultimately became "Harry." His stage surname was an homage to famed French magician Robert Houdin.

In mid-1878, Rabbi Mayer, with his five sons and pregnant wife in tow, set sail for America, arriving on July 3, 1878. The family first put down roots in Appleton, Wisconsin, before later moving, in 1887, to New York City. Four years later, Houdini launched his career as a magician, at first performing basic card tricks. He had little success and at times would make ends meet by performing in freak shows. In 1893, he met singer/dancer Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, known as "Bess," who would become both his wife and lifetime stage assistant. The pair though, performing as "The Houdinis," continued to find success an elusive goal.

To say that Houdini's fortunes changed in 1899 would be a bit of an understatement. As recounted by Kalush and Sloman, "Within months, he had gone from cheap beer halls and dime museums to the big-time -- vaudeville. In one year's time, he had gone from literally eating rabbits for survival to making what today would equal $45,000 a week." After finally hitting it big, however, Houdini then did something rather inexplicable-he abruptly sailed off to England to begin a lengthy European tour. Kalush and Sloman pose the obvious question: "Why would someone who had finally made it big risk everything and leave behind lucrative contracts to go to England with no real prospects in sight?" Why indeed? Such a move in those days would normally be an act of career suicide, but things worked out a little differently for Houdini; everywhere he went-first in England and then in Scotland, Holland, Germany, France and Russia-he was lauded by the press and quickly catapulted into the national limelight.

After a four-year absence, Houdini returned to the US in 1904 and resumed his lucrative career. For many years he was the highest-paid performer on the vaudeville circuit and would frequently perform to huge crowds in stunts that were sometimes arranged with corporate sponsors to promote their business. In 1912, he introduced what would become his most famed escape act, the Chinese Water Torture Cell.

In 1918, Houdini decided to try his luck with the fledgling new entertainment medium known as motion pictures, starring first in a multipart serial and then in The Grim Game (1919) and Terror Island (1920). It was during this time that he is said to have taken up residence in Laurel Canyon, at the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Lookout Mountain Avenue. Following that, he moved to New York and started up his own production company, the Houdini Picture Corporation, which released The Man From Beyond (1921) and Haldane o/the Secret Service (1923), after which Houdini gave up his less-than-successful film career.

For the last few years leading up to his death on October 31, 1926, Houdini primarily focused on debunking psychics and mediums, leading some to speculate that the spiritualist movement may have been behind his untimely demise. To this day, seances are regularly held around the world in attempts to contact the famed magician and escape artist.

And that, in a nutshell, is the Harry Houdini story as it is usually told. But telling stories as they are usually told is a rather boring pursuit, so we are going to take a slightly different approach to see if maybe there isn't an entirely different story hidden in the obscure details of Houdini's life-beginning with his sudden rise to fame after wallowing in obscurity for years. As noted by Kalush and Sloman, "The young Houdini ... couldn't make enough money to succeed at magic. Hungry and crestfallen, he was ready to give up his dream, until he walked into a Chicago police station and met a detective who would change his life. Immediately after this fateful encounter, his picture graced the front page of a Chicago newspaper. That picture catapulted him to renown." Within months, Houdini was arguably the most famous entertainer in the country.

The detective with whom he had that fateful encounter was John Wilkie, a major player in the formation of the International Association of Police Chiefs, which was founded in Chicago in 1893, at the outset of what has been dubbed the Decade of Regicide (which set the stage for WWI). Wilkie also had a hand in the formation of the ominously titled National Bureau of Identification, and he ultimately became the chief of the US Secret Service, America's premier intelligence operation during that era. It should probably be noted here that one of Houdini's nephews, Louis Kraus, worked for the Treasury Department, overseer of Wilkie's Secret Service.

Authors Kalush and Sloman are of the opinion that, "It was forward-thinking for the chief of America's only intelligence operation to be using entertainers for covert activities in 1898." Maybe so, but the authors duly note that such actions were not unprecedented; nearly four decades earlier, Abraham Lincoln had recruited an eighteen-year-old magician named Horatio G. Cooke to serve as a Civil War spy. Lincoln and Cooke were close enough that he was reportedly present at the president's deathbed. Later, near the end of his life, Cooke became a close friend of Harry Houdini. An entertainer of a different variety, stage actor John Wilkes Booth, also appears to have served as an intelligence operative during the Civil War.

There are indications that the practice of using entertainers to carry out covert operations dates back to well before the 1860s. If researchers Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman are to be believed, the most acclaimed entertainment figure of all time, poet/actor/playwright William Shakespeare, was part of a spy ring serving under Sir Francis Walsingham, head of the Elizabethan Secret Service. So too were Christopher Marlowe and various other of Shakespeare's contemporaries. As Phillips and Keatman point out, spymaster Walsingham chose "the best possible recruits-poets and dramatists, whose lifestyles were ideally suited to his purpose. They had the perfect cover, travelling widely and receiving welcome everywhere, and since many were also actors, role playing was often second nature ... many knew foreign languages. Furthermore, as the usual social barriers were often dropped for poets, they were equally at home in back street pubs or in the palaces of the mighty. They were thus in the privileged position of having their eyes and ears everywhere."

It appears then that the practice of utilizing entertainers for covert operations didn't begin with Wilkie, who was himself a magician and a disciple of escape artist R.G. Herrmann. In addition to Houdini, Wilkie recruited other magicians as well, including Herrmann, Louis Leon, and heavyweight prizefighter/magician Bob Fitzsimmons. In addition to Wilkie, another of Houdini's covert backers was Senator Chauncey Depew, an uncle of magician Ganson Depew and a former mentor to then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt (who would be catapulted into the presidency by the assassination of William McKinley, one of the final victims of the Decade of Regicide). Houdini soon gained another hidden backer-William Melville, the head of Scotland Yard's Special Branch and the most visible law enforcement official in the UK. Melville would ultimately become the first chief of Britain's MIS, assuming essentially the same position filled more than three centuries earlier by Walsingham. As Kalush and Sloman discovered, "Within days of arriving in England, Houdini met with a prominent Scotland Yard inspector and once again, his career took off." That inspector was Melville, whom Houdini secretly met with on June 14, 1900, five days after arriving on England's shores. He had left the US on May 30 using a passport issued just two days earlier- a passport that contained more than its fair share of anomalies.

The document listed Houdini's birthday as April 6, though his actual birthday is said to be March 24. It claimed that he was born in 1873, making him one year older than he actually was. Most curiously of all, the document indicated that Houdini was a native-born citizen, though he most assuredly was not. For reasons that no one seems able to explain, he had been allowed to surrender his previous passport, issued to a naturalized citizen, in exchange for the officially issued but clearly fraudulent passport that he used to tour Europe.

Given his background as both a magician and a Mason (by his own account), it goes without saying that secrecy, deception, and illusion were second-nature to Houdini. He also, as Sloman and Kalush noted, had the unusual "ability to interact with a country's police officials and do demonstrations inside their jails," and he was known to be rather proficient at the art of breaking-and-entering. Needless to say, these abilities would have served Houdini well in the world of espionage. So too would many of the devices he boasted of inventing. Again according to Kalush and Sloman, Houdini "told the New York Herald that he invented rubber heels and cameras that work only once. The Boston Transcript reported that he invented 'an envelope which cannot be unsealed by steam without bringing to light the word 'opened' and a wash which will remove printer's ink from paper' ... In his own Conjurer's Monthly, he touted the use of chloride of cobalt for sending invisible messages."

A friend of Houdini's, fellow magician Billy Robinson, was also well-versed in the tradecraft of the intelligence community. In his book Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena, Robinson "detailed thirty-seven methods for secret writing [which] would play an important part in spy communication during World War I." He also "detailed how to read other people's letters without opening the envelopes by using alcohol to render them temporarily transparent," and offered readers "subtle methods to share information while being closely scrutinized." Kalush and Sloman share what became of Robinson not long after penning the book: "Then, virtually overnight, he changed his name and appearance, left the country, and broke many of his connections. Years later, his only brother wouldn't even be able to find him." Robinson died in 1918 while performing a bullet catch trick that he had performed many times before. Houdini would write that "it seems as if there were something peculkar [sic] about the whole affair."

In addition to possessing skills and knowledge that were ideally suited to the spook trade, Houdini also ran what could best be described as his own personal spy ring; in addition to an unknown number of fulltime confederates (mostly young women, including one of his nieces), "Houdini employed female operatives on an ad hoc basis when he came to town." Probably the most important of his operatives was a young fellow magician named Amedeo Vacca, whose relationship with Houdini was unknown to virtually everyone throughout the escape artist's life. So secret was the close relationship between the two that even Harry's wife, as well as his brother, magician/confederate Hardeen, were unaware of it.

Houdini was a man for whom secrecy seems to have been something of an obsession. His home was said to be laced with secret passageways and hidden rooms, and his desk contained hidden compartments. There are indications that, while on the road, he would frequently maintain, for unknown purposes, a second hotel room in a different hotel. A man named Edward Saint (aka Charles David Myers), who was close to Bess, once claimed that Houdini "had safes and vaults in his home, and vaults in banks that his lawyers had access to; but one secret, now made public for the first time, is the fact that Houdini had one safety deposit vault in a bank or trust company in the East under some familiar name other than Houdini, and of which the secret location rested only in Houdini's brain. In this vault was kept highly secret papers." As far as is known, no one-not even Geraldo Rivera-has located that secret vault.

With his espionage tradecraft and dubious passport in tow, Houdini traveled to Germany in September 1900 after taking the British Isles by storm. As was the case in England and Scotland, the press immediately showered the visiting entertainer with accolades. There was one key difference in the German press coverage though: "The newspaper accounts of Houdini's demonstrations at German police stations portray him as a police consultant rather than a mere entertainer ... For a vaudeville performer, Houdini seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time and have unprecedented access at the Berlin police station."

As he had in the US and the British Isles, Houdini established some unusual connections in Germany for a stage performer. One associate of his in Germany was a chemist named Hans Goldschmidt, who had patented an incendiary compound known as thermite. "Houdini noted that he was in Berlin when Goldschmidt performed his first test on a safe. He didn't explain why a stage escape artist would be at such a demonstration."

Houdini continued his pre-WWI tour by visiting France and Russia. Curiously, the countries that Houdini visited on his unusual tour-Russia, Germany, France and England-would have the distinction of being the major players in the soon-to-unfold Great War, but that's probably just a bizarre coincidence. In Czarist Russia, "the magician had official permission to appear in any city in Russia, an extraordinary set of circumstances that bespeaks the close relationship between Superintendent Melville and the Okhrana, the imperial Russian secret police." Houdini's Russian tour was booked by a guy named Harry Day, "a mysterious expatriate American who changed his name and met Houdini in London around the same time as Houdini's first meeting with Melville ... [Day] eventually became a member of Parliament and did overseas espionage for the British government." For many years thereafter, the shadowy Day would handle Houdini's European bookings.

Following his lengthy tour of prewar Europe, Houdini returned to America with much press fanfare. One of his most high-profile stunts upon his return was escaping from the heavily fortified Cell #2 at the United States Jail in Washington, DC-the cell that had famously housed Charles Julius Guiteau, convicted assassin of President James Garfield, prior to Guiteau's hanging at the facility. Guiteau, who, like his father, was closely affiliated with a religious cult known as the Oneida Community, shot Garfield on July 2,1881, having learned how to use a handgun just a few weeks earlier. He claimed to be acting on orders from God.

Houdini, needless to say, succeeded in escaping from Guiteau's former cell-and also rearranged all the prisoners residing on the jail's fabled 'murderer's row.' To do so, of course, he would have needed a master key, which someone clearly provided to him. But why? Such were the perks provided an entertainer who appeared to be "working as an agent for US government agencies, international police associations, and a special branch of Scotland Yard."

A couple years after his escape from the US Jail, there was an unusual incident at the Houdini household. On October 25, 1907, an intruder made a concerted effort to kill the performer, slashing at the sleeping figure more than 100 times with a razor. Harry Houdini, however, was not home at the time. Had he been, there might have been a different outcome, given that some reports contend that the escape artist carried a handgun at all times. The victim of the attack instead was his brother Leopold, who closely resembled Harry. Household servant Frank Thomas was arrested and charged with the attack, though there was scant evidence linking him to the crime and no known motive. Indeed, Thomas had arrived the next morning for work seemingly unaware the attack had taken place. Remarkably, Houdini was able to keep his name out of all press accounts of the crime and trial despite the fact that the attack occurred at his home, he appears to have been the intended victim, and the alleged assailant was his own servant.

On November 26, 1909, Houdini became the first man to successfully fly a powered craft on the Australian continent. He cheerfully dispatched publicity photos featuring him in a plane surrounded by German soldiers-a move he would soon regret when those German soldiers found themselves on the opposite side of the battlefields of WWI (following America's entry into the war, Houdini would attempt to destroy all photographs documenting his training of German pilots). That first flight and all subsequent Australian flights were arranged by Lieutenant George Taylor of the Australian Intelligence Corps. Curiously, despite Houdini's avid early interest in aviation, he did not, as far as is known, ever fly again after leaving Australia.

On April 29, 1911, Houdini debuted his famed Chinese Water Torture Cell escape in Southampton, England, though he had perfected and copyrighted the act well over a year earlier. The inherently dangerous stunt caused quite a sensation: "Just the sight of the apparatus was enough to give you shivers and make you believe, as one critic noted, that you were about to witness a ritual sacrifice." Around that same time, Houdini was, for reasons unknown, busily buying mothballed electric chairs at auctions across the country.

In 1913, Houdini's beloved mother passed away, which apparently resulted in Harry learning some deep family secret. Following her death, Houdini sent the following cryptic note to one of his brothers: "Time heals all wounds, but a long time will have to pass before it will heal the terrible blow which Mother tried to save me from knowing." The meaning of this rather provocative note remains a mystery. Houdini, by the way, was in Denmark when his mother died and he requested a delay of her funeral to allow himself time to return to the States. Despite strict prohibitions in Jewish law, the entertainer's request was granted.

In December 1914, just a few months after the provocation that allegedly triggered WWI, Houdini was summoned to the nation's capitol for a private audience with then-President Woodrow Wilson. It is anyone's guess what business the two men discussed but it probably had little to do with stage tricks. A year-and-a-half later, on that most notorious of dates, April 20, an estimated 100,000 people gathered in Washington, DC to watch Houdini perform a straightjacket escape. Other than for a presidential inauguration, it was said to be the largest crowd ever assembled in downtown Washington. One year later, in April 1917, the US declared war on Germany.

For the duration of the United States' involvement in the war, Houdini spent a considerable amount of time aiding the war effort, both through fundraising and by frequently visiting the front lines, where he ostensibly went from camp to camp providing entertainment for the troops. Houdini's Hollywood career also began just as the US was entering the war. It has often been said that one of his first credits was as a special-effects consultant on the Mysteries of Myra cliffhanger serial, though others have claimed that Houdini had no involvement in the production. Curiously, the real consultant for the project is said to have been occultist/intelligence asset Aleister Crowley.

Houdini's first feature-length film, The Grim Game, opened to rave reviews. Ensconced in Hollywood, Houdini quickly made friends with mega-stars Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, both of whom would soon be caught up in scandals-a career-ending one in Arbuckle's case. The fledgling actor next began work on Terror Island, filmed largely on Catalina Island. Unlike his feature debut, Island opened to poor reviews, leading a discouraged Houdini to launch his own production company to create his own starring vehicles.

Just after completing Terror Island, in December 1919, Houdini was involved in yet another bizarre incident. Having injured his ankle performing the water torture escape, he paid a visit to a doctor who examined the performer and pronounced him in imminent "danger of death." Houdini nevertheless lived on for several more years; the doctor, meanwhile, turned up dead within two weeks.

By the end of 1921, the Houdini Picture Corporation had two feature- length films in the can- The Man From Beyond and Haldane of the Secret Service. The first, co-written by Houdini himself and released on April 2, 1922, featured a strange plotline revolving around a man found frozen in arctic ice and brought back to life, a case of mistaken identity, confinement in a mental institution, escape from that same institution, and an abduction. Haldane, released the following year, was Houdini's first attempt at directing himself. It featured the magician as his real life alter ego, but its performance at the box office signaled the end of Houdini's film career.

For the rest of his years, Houdini devoted a considerable amount of time to investigating and debunking the spiritualist movement, which flourished in the post-WWI years as legions of fake 'mediums' preyed upon the grief of those who had lost loved ones in the war. By design or otherwise, Houdini's crusade served primarily to publicize the movement, which included among its members a number of Harry's friends, most notably and prominently Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and possible perpetrator of the infamous Piltdown Hoax of 1912. Both Doyle and Houdini also had connections to Le Roi and Margery Crandon, and that is where this story takes a decidedly dark turn.

Margery, born Mina Stinson in Canada in 1888, had moved with her family to Boston, Massachusetts, at a young age. As a teenager, she is said to have been a musical prodigy and to have played various musical instruments in local orchestras, while later working as an actress, secretary and ambulance driver. In 1917, the then-married Mina was hospitalized and operated on by Dr. Le Roi Goddard Crandon, a man who occupied a prestigious position in Boston society. Crandon was a direct descendent of one of the original twenty-three Mayflower passengers and a member of the Boston Yacht Club. He had graduated from Harvard Medical School and had also obtained a master's degree in philosophy from Harvard, where he also served as an instructor. Just before meeting Mina, he had served as a Naval officer and as head of the surgical staff at a US Naval hospital during WWI.

Shortly after meeting the doctor, Mina divorced her first husband and, in 1918, became the much older Le Roi Crandon's third wife. The two seemed hopelessly mismatched, she being young, vivacious and, by all accounts, very attractive, while he was said to be rather arrogant, unpleasant and antisocial. Nevertheless, the pair quickly became the talk of Boston's high society, particularly after the summer of 1923 when they began holding regular seances in their home. One member of the couple's inner circle was a fellow by the name of Joseph DeWyckoff, a wealthy steel tycoon born in Poland and educated in England and Czarist Russia before settling in America to practice law. He was jailed in Boston on embezzlement charges, later fleeing to Chicago after embezzling yet more money. He soon turned up in, of all places, Havana, Cuba, where, according to Kalush and Sloman, "in 1898 he was recruited by John Wilkie, the Secret Service chief, as a co-optee and was involved in spying for the United States during the Spanish- American War."

That would be, needless to say, the very same John Wilkie who had kick-started Harry Houdini's career that very same year. As a reward for his service, DeWyckoff, who "had a history of violence," "was given the contract to salvage the Battleship Maine in the Havana Harbor." The Maine had been sunk in what appears to have been a false-flag operation carried out by US intelligence operatives to justify launching a bloody colonial war.

Although fragmentary, there is clear evidence that Le Roi and Mina Crandon, in conjunction with DeWyckoff and various others, began sometime soon after getting married to 'adopt' an untold number of children who subsequently went missing. A number of letters that Dr. Crandon penned on the subject and dispatched to his buddy Doyle appear to have gone missing as well. As Kalush and Sloman note, "Strangely, many of the letters regarding the investigation into the boys have been expunged from Crandon's files." In one surviving letter, sent on August 4, 1925, Crandon notes that "about December first I had Mr. DeWyckoff bring over a boy from a London home for possible adoption ... In April 1925, our Secret Service Department at Washington received a letter saying that I had first and last sixteen boys in my house for ostensible adoption, and that they had all disappeared."

Four years earlier, a Boston newspaper had reported that two boys had been rescued from a raft; one, eight-year-old John Crandon, was Margery/Mina's son from her previous marriage; the other, a ten-year- old English 'adoptee,' was reportedly so unhappy at the Crandon home that he was frantically attempting an escape, with the younger boy in tow. "Two years later, when Margery began her mediumship, there was no trace of that boy in the household." Perhaps he was the 'homeless' boy whose dead body was reportedly found on the outskirts of Joseph DeWyckoff's large estate in Ramsey, New Jersey, during that time period.

By 1924, Dr. Crandon was openly asking his many friends in the British spiritualist movement to "be on the lookout for suitable boys to adopt." Around that same time, as another associate noted in a letter, Crandon was "being sued for $40,000 for operating on a woman for cancer, when she was simply pregnant, and destroying the foetus ... A highly incredible story which persists is that a boy who was in his family some weeks mysteriously disappeared. He claims that the boy is now in his home in England, but still official letters of inquiry and demand are received from that country. This is no mere rumor, for I was shown some of the original letters ... The matter has been going on for more than a year. It is very mysterious."

In response to questions raised about the disappearance of one particular boy, Margery/Mina complained that "people wrote asking his whereabouts, and the prime minister of England cabled to ask where he was and demanded a cable reply. Why people even said Dr. Crandon committed illegal operations on little children and murdered them." According to Margery, "the poor little fellow had adenoids and had to be circumcised," so Crandon opted to perform the surgery at home. It was widely rumored that the good doctor had performed another procedure at home as well-surgically altering his wife's vaginal opening to allow her to 'magically' produce various items at seances.

On one occasion, Margery opened a closet in her home and showed an associate a collection of photos of well over 100 children, "most of them really lovely." Margery told the woman that, "Those are Dr. Crandon's caesareans-aren't they sweet? All caesareans." Given that Crandon wasn't known for delivering babies at all, the notion that he had delivered over 100 of them via caesarean was an absurdity. Who then were all these children and why had Dr. Crandon photographed them? Such are the questions raised by the fragmentary evidence trail indicating that an untold number of young boys fell into the nefarious hands of a cabal of wealthy individuals with connections to the intelligence community. Not to worry though-the disappearances were investigated by John Wilkie's Secret Service and a British MP by the name of Harry Day.

Not long before his death, Houdini, who had an extensive library of literature on the occult, began working with horror writer and occultist H.P. Lovecraft on various magazine articles. In 1926, he hired Lovecraft (who could, like Crandon, trace his lineage to the Massachusetts Bay Colony) and Clifford Eddy, Jr. (another occultist and horror writer and one of Houdini's covert operatives), to co-write a book debunking superstition. According to Kalush and Sloman, "Shortly after meeting with Eddy and Lovecraft, Bess was stricken with a nonspecific form of poisoning." Indeed, there is evidence suggesting that both Harry and Bess Houdini suffered from some form of poisoning prior to Harry's death. In addition, Houdini is said to have exhibited severe mood swings and had some "aggressive confrontations" in the weeks leading up to his death, both of which were out of character for the illusionist (though Bess is widely reported to have suffered from extreme mood swings throughout her life).

As the story goes, Houdini, who prided himself on being able to take a punch from pretty much anyone, was sucker-punched in his dressing room by a McGill University student, causing his appendix to burst and ultimately leading to his death on October 31, 1926. Houdini's physicians dutifully swore out affidavits certifying the cause of death to be "traumatic appendicitis," though the medical community now acknowledges that such a medical condition has never existed. No autopsy was performed. Joscelyn Gordon Whitehead, the guy credited with sucker-punching Houdini, had some rather provocative connections. His father, for example, was a British diplomat serving in the Orient. After Houdini's death, Whitehead is said to have become a recluse living something of a hermetic existence. He did have at least one close associate though-Lady Beatrice Isabel Marler, a wealthy heiress and the wife of Sir Herbert Meredith Marler, a prominent Canadian politician and diplomat who once served as Canada's ambassador to the US.

The mid-1920s were not a good time for the Houdini/Weiss brothers. Brother Gottfried Weiss, born two years before Harry, died in 1925. Harry followed suit the next year. Brother Nathan Weiss, born four years before Harry, died soon after, in 1927. On June 22,1927, Houdini's European booking agent, Harry Day, reported that his apartment had been ransacked. That day would have also been Houdini's wedding anniversary- assuming, that is, that Harry was actually legally married to Bess, which may not have been the case. Two months after the break-in at Day's apartment, Theodore 'Hardeen,' one of Houdini's two surviving brothers-the one who had inherited all of brother Harry's props, effects and papers-reported that his home had also been broken into while he had been on the road.

After Houdini's death, it was widely rumored that Bess-who in addition to suffering from wild mood swings was also an alcoholic and a drug addict who was occasionally suicidal-ran an illegal speakeasy/ brothel in conjunction with a woman named Daisy White, said to have been Harry's mistress. Nothing unusual about that.

In mid-1945, Theodore 'Hardeen' checked into Doctor's Hospital for a scheduled operation. On June 12, 1945, Hardeen left that hospital in a body bag. It was reported at the time that Hardeen had been planning to pen a book on his brother and had begun work on the project before checking into the hospital. Nearly two decades later, on October 6, 1962, Leopold Weiss-Harry's last living sibling and the one who had been brutally attacked in his brother's home-is said to have jumped off a ledge and fallen six stories to his death. The last of Houdini's secrets went to the grave with him.

It has often been noted that Houdini took far longer to perform many of his stage escapes than was actually necessary and that he was frequently out of view of the audience during such times. This has generally been assumed to have been for dramatic effect. Authors Kalush and Sloman though offer a far more compelling possibility: "One explanation is that such challenges gave Houdini both the opportunity and an alibi to conduct a mission while he was performing." It was, in other words, the perfect cover, for how could a man be responsible for something that occurred elsewhere when he was performing on stage for a captive audience at the time? There are, it should be noted, clear parallels here to the story told by Chuck Barris, who has claimed that he was similarly slipping off to conduct covert missions while performing his duties as a chaperone for The Dating Game.

Of course, no one took Barris seriously because we all know that such things don't really happen in the real world-or at least not in the world that most of us think we live in.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:14 am


"He seriously thought that Miles, Stewart and I were part of some conspiracy hatched by my father and backed by the CIA."

-- Ian Copeland, referring to Bernie Rhodes, onetime manager of the Clash

As THE 1970s WORE ON, THE SOUNDS EMANATING FROM LAUREL CANYON began to be replaced by a new genre of rock music. What was initially dubbed "punk rock" was soon transformed into the less raw version known as "new wave, " and both were sold to the masses as a new form of rebellion against the status quo.

The new scene was populated with a new batch of rising stars, bands and artists with names like Sex Pistols, the Clash, Buzzcocks, the Cramps, Generation X, Cherry Vanilla, General Public, the (English) Beat, Public Image Ltd., the Fleshtones, the B-52s, the Cure, the Police, Blondie, Television, REM, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, John Cale, Magazine, Simple Minds, the Specials, Wall of Voodoo, the Go-Gos, the Bangles, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Psychedelic Furs, Joy Division, Bow Wow Wow, Gang of Four, Squeeze, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Dingo Boingo, Adam Ant, Gary Numan, the Smiths, the Fixx, A Flock of Seagulls, Bananarama, Sting, Thompson Twins, Katrina and the Waves, Lords of the New Church, Midnight Oil, Steel Pulse, Dread Zeppelin, Social Distortion, Human League, Soft Cell, Timbuk 3, Camper Van Beethoven, Circle Jerks, dada, the Alarm, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Plimsouls, the Ramones, the Stranglers, UB40, Suburban Lawns, Stan Ridgeway, XTC, Concrete Blonde, Ultravox, and the Fine Young Cannibals.

All of the acts listed above had something in common: In addition to being among the most critically acclaimed and commercially viable of the new artists, all of them owed their success at least in part to their association with one or more members of the Copeland clan.

The patriarch of that clan, Miles Axe Copeland, Jr., born in 1916, was something of a legend in Western intelligence circles. At the outbreak of WWII, the former working musician was magically transformed into one of the founding members of the ass. During the war years, while he was stationed in the UK, he met Elizabeth Lorraine Adie, a British intelligence asset then assigned to the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Lorraine's brother, Ian Aide, was also a highly placed British intelligence operative.

Miles and Lorraine, he the son of a doctor and she the daughter of a prominent neurosurgeon, were married in the UK on September 25, 1942. After the war, the two moved to Washington, DC, where Miles worked alongside other intelligence heavyweights like "Wild Bill" Donovan to form the Central Intelligence Agency. For the next several decades, Copeland would play key roles in various nefarious activities throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In 1947, he was dispatched to Damascus, Syria to serve as the CIA station chief and to orchestrate a series of coups that resulted in power being consolidated in the military and national security sectors. These were the first coups orchestrated by the newly formed CIA, but they would certainly not be the last. Along for the adventure was firstborn son Miles Copeland III, who had been born in London on May 4, 1944. On April 25, 1949, second son Ian, born just outside of Damascus, joined the family.

The Copeland family thereafter alternated between various posts in the Middle East and their sometime home in Washington. On July 16, 1952, third son Stewart was born in Alexandria, Virginia. That same month, the senior Copeland worked with Gamal Nasser to organize a coup in Egypt. In 1953, Miles worked closely with Archibald and Kermit Roosevelt to orchestrate the coup that toppled Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and consolidated the power of Shah Reza Pahlavi. That same year, the Copeland family was dispatched to Cairo, Egypt, where Miles was tasked with creating the Mukhabarat, Egypt's version of the CIA, for soon-to-be President Nasser. Copeland stayed on for four years, becoming Nasser's top Western adviser and the country's CIA station chief. While there, Lorraine developed a keen interest in archeology and thereafter worked as, or at least posed as, an archeologist. And a very young Miles Copeland III became friends with Colonel Hassan Touhaimi, described in a web-posted bio of Copeland as "Nasser's machine gun toting bodyguard who lived next door." Every pre-pubescent boy, I think we can all agree, needs friends like that.

From 1957 through 1968, the Copeland clan was stationed in Beirut, Lebanon, where Miles, Sr. served as that country's CIA station chief. In his memoirs, son Ian has described Beirut at that time as a "center of intrigue and espionage." During the early years of that assignment, Copeland worked closely with such intelligence community luminaries as Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA chief Allen Dulles. Also during those years, the Copeland sons attended the American Community School in Beirut, where Miles III served as the president of his senior class. When he was just sixteen, Miles also obtained a license to teach judo to the Lebanese Army. Of those years spent in Lebanon, Ian Copeland has written that he "grew up thinking we were stinking rich. We certainly lived like we were." Ian has attributed that lavish lifestyle to his father's rather lucrative expense account.

Following his stint in Beirut-during which time he had frequently been on assignment in various hotspots throughout the Middle East, northern Africa and Asia-Copeland played a more low-profile role in US intelligence operations. In 1988, he penned an article entitled "Spooks for Bush" that argued that the intelligence community heartily backed the presidential bid of former spymaster George H.W. Bush. Three years later, Miles Axe Copeland, Jr. passed away, survived by his wife, daughter and three sons.

From fall 1962 through 1966, Miles Copeland III attended Birmingham Southern College, spending one semester at the American University in Washington, DC. After that, he was off to Lebanon to attend the American University of Beirut, where he spent three years. During that time, he formed his first business partnership with, again according to his online bio, "his close friend, Amr Ghaleb, son of Egypt's ambassador to Lebanon (known to run the largest spy network in Lebanon)." While at work at the business entity he dubbed Middle East Security Consultants, Copeland was reportedly fond of answering the phone with the greeting: "CIA, how can we help you?"

After graduating from the university in 1969, Miles joined the rest of the family in the UK, where he quickly began serving as a manager for the band Wishbone Ash and signing other new musical acts, including Joan Armatrading, AI Stewart and the Climax Blues Band. By 1974, he had launched his first record label, British Talent Managers (BTM), become a partner in a concert-booking agency and started a music industry magazine, College Event. As Ian later recalled, "When [Miles] found it difficult to get press on some of his bands, he simply determined to start his own magazine." He also joined with then-unknown attorney Allen Grubman to form what would become the most powerful music industry law firm in the country.

It was, needless to say, a natural progression for a kid who had grown up immersed in the world of covert operations and whose first business venture had been a security consulting firm co-owned by the son of another powerful figure in the intelligence community. The publication College Event, not surprisingly, employed some classic spytrade subterfuge: Copeland kept his name off the publication by employing a frontman editor so that he could then write glowing endorsements of his own bands, disguised, of course, as objective reviews.

In 1976, Miles gave up the magazine, record company and booking agency partnership and started over as an agent, manager, producer and record company for numerous new punk and new wave acts that would soon emerge as some of the very brightest stars on the new musical horizon. Copeland launched several new record labels-including Illegal Records, Deptford Fun City Records, Step Forward Records and New Bristol Records-and executive produced the first film dedicated to promoting the new scene, Urgh! A Music War. His office soon became the headquarters for the most influential fanzine of the era, Sniffin' Glue. In 1979, Copeland and Jerry Moss, the head of AMC Records, launched International Records Syndicate, Inc., better known as IRS Records. The label quickly became home to many of the most influential new wave acts. In 1983, Miles became the only music producer to be given his own show on the upstart MTV network, IRS Records Presents The Cutting Edge, which ran through 1987 and served to, not surprisingly, primarily promote Copeland's acts.

Copeland was also given his own prime-time television show in the UK, Miles Copeland's England. The program was widely viewed as being pro-Conservative Party and pro-capitalist and was reportedly a favorite of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. A repeat showing of the short-lived series was cancelled amid complaints that it would have undue influence on pending elections in the country.

Meanwhile, younger brother Ian Copeland had become quite a mover- and-shaker in the music industry as well. His self-professed wayward youth in Lebanon had included joining an older 'outlaw' biker gang after acquiring his first motorcycle at the age of fifteen. His memoirs are filled with other tales of bold adventures-including running away from home as a minor and making his way through several countries-but most of them seem rather apochryphal. He claims that his first business enterprise, when he was still quite young, was "basically running a whorehouse" servicing the US Marines called into the country by his father. He also claims to have helped a friend flee the country after said friend had likely killed a cop.

On September 19, 1967, at the height of the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War, while other kids were desperately trying to avoid the draft, Ian voluntarily enlisted in the US Army. As he emphasized in his memoirs, he "wanted to go to Vietnam." Assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, also known as the Big Red One, he arrived 'in country' just after the Tet Offensive of 1968. As recounted in his tome, his unit would soon find itself "banned from Saigon ... following numerous complaints alleging brutality." Ian also writes approvingly of his unit's habit of "randomly bombard[ing] places around the country where we suspected Charlie might be, " blithely ignoring the fact that those places likely harbored mostly noncombatants. Of his time in Vietnam, Copeland has written that he "loved it-not all the time, but enough to have seen me through it all, and to have mostly fond memories as I think of Vietnam." His fond memories are no doubt influenced by the fact that, as someone cleared to handle sensitive communications, he was given a considerable amount of autonomy: "Since we handled messages classified as Confidential, Secret and Top Secret, we were able to close off our area with barbed wire and make it off-limits to absolutely everyone, including officers."

While just nineteen, Ian Copeland was promoted to the rank of sergeant, becoming, by his account, the youngest US serviceman ever to achieve that rank. He has credited that promotion in part to the fact that he rode as a bodyguard for an unnamed lieutenant who was heavily involved in black market operations. What Copeland fails to mention is that black market operations in Vietnam were mostly run by our own CIA. Copeland also was awarded a Bronze Star, a Good Conduct Medal, four campaign medals, a National Defense Service Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal, and a Republic of Vietnam Commendation Medal.

Following his tour of duty in Vietnam, Ian was assigned to Fort Lee, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. There he was tasked with providing riot control training to troops being prepped to police the May Day peace march on Washington. He subsequently volunteered for a second tour of duty in Vietnam, but soon found himself facing drug charges in the UK. He was ultimately found "not guilty" of the charges, owing largely to the fact that his father secured representation for him from a member of the Queen's Counsel. His time spent fighting the charges though resulted in his Vietnam orders being rescinded and instead he was dispatched to a remote communications outpost in England. In October 1970, he was sent to one of the numerous US military installations around Mannheim, Germany, a hub for military intelligence operations. A few months later, in January 1971, he was honorably discharged after serving his country for nearly three-and-a-half years.

In late April 1971, shortly after his discharge, Copeland incongruously decided to join a week-long protest organized by the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Given his own history and his family history, readers are excused for questioning whether his sudden misgivings about the war were sincere or whether he was in fact working to infiltrate the dissident group. A clue can perhaps be found in the fact that, not long after joining the protest, Ian answered an ad seeking Vietnam veterans who would be willing to sign up to fight as mercenaries in the Congo.

Copeland never made it to the Congo though; instead he went to work for big brother Miles. By 1979, Ian had founded Frontier Booking International, better known by the acronym FBI, which quickly became the go-to booking agency for "new wave" acts, a term that Ian Copeland claims to have coined. Soon he was booking all of brother Miles' acts and many more as well. Between the two of them, Miles and Ian signed, managed, booked, recorded, produced or otherwise handled a remarkably high percentage of the big name acts that emerged from the new music scene.*

The youngest and best known of the Copeland brothers, Stewart, also opted to venture into the emerging punk/new wave scene, but he did so by forming his own 'punk' band. Before actually recruiting any musicians, he quickly came up with a band name, the Police, and designed the band's logo and an album cover. The band that he would then assemble, featuring himself on drums, Gordon Thomas Matthew "Sting" Sumner on bass and lead vocals, and Andrew James Summers on guitar, would soon become arguably the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful of the new bands. The initial success of the Police in the US is what largely opened the floodgates for a new British invasion of punk and new wave bands. And that was in spite of the fact that the band was in no way a punk band and didn't really even qualify as a new wave band. As the British press pointed out, band members were much too professional, and a bit too old, to really fit into the new scene.

In 2002, Stewart Copeland played briefly in a reconstituted version of the Doors, alongside founding members Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger. Copeland's former band mate, Andy Summers, who was a decade older than Stewart and Sting, had been on the Laurel Canyon scene back when the original Doors were playing the Sunset Strip. As he wrote in Rolling Stone in July 2007, in 1968 he "was living in Laurel Canyon and going to Sunset Strip every night." Briefly a member of Eric Burden and the Animals at that time, Summers had been one of the regulars at the Log Cabin.

And the beat goes on ...



* Ian Copeland was also in a three-year relationship with actress Courteney Cox, who famously made her debut dancing with rocker Bruce Springsteen in a music video. Cox, as it turns out, was partially raised by and is the step-daughter of Hunter Copeland, brother of Miles Axe Copeland, Jr. and an uncle of the three boys. Hunter Copeland had been a decorated WWII officer, returning home with a Silver Star, four Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart.  
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:14 am


"For whatever reason-it's still not understood by criminologists-California in the 1970s was ground zero for serial killers."

-- Stella Sands, writing in The Dating Game Killer

ONE THING THAT HAS BECOME VERY CLEAR WHILE RESEARCHING THIS BOOK is that there are disturbing parallels between the Laurel Canyon saga and my previous research on the phenomenon of serial killers -- research that led to my earlier book, Programmed to Kill. Nowhere is that more true than in the details of the curious case of Rodney Alcala, otherwise known as the Dating Game Killer, who is said to be one of the country's most prolific serial killers. He has been convicted of seven murders, accused of several more, and some law enforcement officials have claimed, rather ludicrously, that he could be responsible for as many as 130 murders. It is only in recent years though that he has been identified as a serial killer, despite the fact that all the crimes he is accused of were committed in the 1970s.

In addition to being an alleged serial killer himself, Alcala allegedly operated on the same turf as a few other, more high-profile serial killers. And as fate would have it, he also had a number of connections to the Laurel Canyon scene and some of the key people and places that made up that scene. In other words, Alcala's story seems to provide a bridge between the seemingly idyllic Laurel Canyon scene and the brutal world of serial murder.

In the opening chapter of Stella Sands' The Dating Game Killer, that connection is hinted at:

"As cars cruised up and down Hollywood Boulevard and the Sunset Strip, radios blared edgier, angrier rock and roll: Masters Of War by Bob Dylan, What's Going On? by Marvin Gaye, Eve Of Destruction by Barry McGuire. Musicians from bands like the Doors, the Byrds, Cream, and the Animals played the Whiskey-a-Go-Go [sic] on the Sunset Strip -- and partied with wild abandon at the Chateau Marmont Hotel up the street ... Amidst all this turmoil and social upheaval in 1968, an event occurred that is not well documented by the era's historians: 'Tali S., ' age eight, was abducted on her way to school."

This story begins though in 1943, in San Antonio, Texas, with the birth on August 23 of one Rodrigo Jacques Alcala-Buquor. Growing up, young Rodrigo (known as Rodney) attended mostly private Catholic schools where he got excellent grades and never showed any signs of being a problem child. In 1951, when he was about eight, he and his family moved to Mexico where he attended the American School. Not long after relocating, Rodney's father left the family and returned to the States alone. In 1954, after a few years in Mexico, Rodney and his mom and siblings relocated once again, this time to Los Angeles, California. By 1956, he was enrolled at the private Cantwell High School for boys, which later merged with Sacred Heart of Mary High School for girls to become the Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School, owned and operated by the LA Archdiocese.

Alcala finished out his senior year at Montebello High School, graduating in 1960. According to various reports, he had a wide circle of friends and never had any trouble lining up dates during his high school years. In addition to being an excellent student and talented athlete, he was on the yearbook planning committee and he took piano lessons. He was, in other words, a well-rounded and popular kid-the kind of young man you would expect to see voted "most likely to succeed" by his high school classmates.

On June 19, 1961, Rodney Alcala enlisted in the US Army. His older brother was at the time attending prestigious West Point Military Academy, which generally requires a nomination from a US Senator or a member of the House of Representatives. There is no explanation in the available literature as to how the Alcala family had either the financial means or the political connections to secure such an appointment. Rodney meanwhile entered a program in North Carolina to become a paratrooper but instead served as a clerk, if his service records are to be believed. He was stationed, interestingly enough, at Fort Bragg, which had become, with the creation of the Psychological Warfare Center in 1952, a hotbed of research on 'unconventional warfare.' Fort Bragg is also the longtime home of US Special Forces.

After two years of military service, Alcala unexpectedly showed up at his mother's Montebello home after having gone AWOL. He was quickly hospitalized and informed that he was in immediate need of psychiatric treatment. Taken first to San Francisco, he soon found himself at a military hospital at the Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro, near Irvine, California. He remained there for an unspecified length of time.

Following his release, he returned to his mother's home in Montebello and shortly thereafter enrolled in UCLA's College of Fine Arts, from where he earned a degree in 1968. During his first year there, another young student who had just moved out from Florida-a guy by the name of Jim Morrison-likewise enrolled in UCLA's College of Fine Arts. Both young men displayed a passion for making student films. According to Morrison biographers Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, during Jim and Rodney's time at the College of Fine Arts, a fellow student cut his girlfriend's heart out.

On September 25, 1968, an eight-year-old girl later identified as Tali Shapiro was abducted while on her way to the Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood. At the time, according to Sands, Shapiro was "living temporarily at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood with her brother, sister, mother, and music-industry father." The family was temporarily rubbing elbows with the likes of Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin because, as it turns out, "their home had recently burned down in a fire." As Gary Valentine Lachman has written, the hotel during that era was widely rumored to offer a decidedly unhealthy environment in which to raise a young girl: "Tales of pacts with the Devil followed [Led) Zeppelin throughout their career, and stories of orgies, black masses and satanic rites were commonplace, mostly centered around the infamous Chateau Marmont off the Sunset Strip."

On the morning of her abduction, Shapiro is said to have woken early and, without informing her parents, decided on her own to walk to school rather than taking the bus-which seems difficult to believe given her young age and the fact that the school was a little over a mile away down seedy Sunset Boulevard. As the story goes, Alcala was spotted luring Shapiro into his vehicle by a good samaritan, who then followed Alcala back to his apartment where he called police from a nearby phone. The police though apparently didn't rush over, giving Alcala time to strip, viciously rape and then bludgeon the young girl nearly to death. She was so thoroughly battered, with her head bashed open and a heavy bar placed across her throat, that the responding officer initially thought she was dead.

Upon arrival, the officer knocked on the suspect's front door and was greeted through the window by a partially naked man who claimed he had just gotten out of the shower and would need a minute to get dressed. Despite the fact that the officer was responding to a report of an abducted child (with the witness on the scene) and had just encountered the presumed suspect, he nevertheless allowed that suspect time to get dressed and escape. According to Sands, "In the short time it had taken to kick in the door, the perpetrator-the monster-had slipped out the back." The LA Weekly concurred, claiming that Alcala "escaped through a backdoor." Not many apartment units, it should probably be noted, come equipped with a back door.

In any event, the apartment was found to be full of photographic equipment and stacks of photographs of young girls. The suspect, however, was nowhere to be found. The case was assigned to, of all people, LAPD detective Steve Hodel, brother of Michelle Phillips' surrogate mom, Tamar Hodel, and son of accused Black Dahlia killer George Hodel. According to a January 21, 2010, article in the LA Weekly, Hodel was at the time a "newbie detective working juvenile crimes." The Shapiro family, meanwhile, abruptly decided to relocate to Mexico, a move that is routinely cited as the reason the crime was never prosecuted.

Following his unlikely escape, Alcala immediately relocated to New York and, using the name John Berger, applied for admission to the prestigious New York University School of the Arts. Although the semester had already begun at the notoriously selective school, Berger/ Alcala was nevertheless admitted. He attended for three years, working at times as a security guard and, during the summers of 1969, 1970 and 1971, as an arts counselor. One of Alcala's instructors at the school was a guy who during those same years had a slaughter perpetrated at his home, and who Pamela Des Barres once described as being "definitely not normal, " Mr. Roman Polanski.

In June of 1971, Cornelia Crilley, a TWA stewardess who lived with her family across from the sprawling Cavalry Cemetery, was found dead. She had been in a two-year relationship with a Leon Borstein, then an assistant district attorney for Brooklyn who later became the chief special prosecutor for New York City. Borstein, who claimed that Crilley was the love of his life but who nevertheless married just a year after her murder, was initially the prime suspect. The crime appeared to have nothing whatsoever to do with Rodney Alcala-but a full four decades later, in 2011, he would be indicted for her murder.

By the time of Crilley's murder, Sands notes, "detective Steve Hodel and his LAPD team had been trying to locate Alcala for nearly three years." They finally got a break when Alcala was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list and was subsequently recognized by a couple of the teens at the camp where he served as a counselor. Upon his arrest and return to Los Angeles, Alcala was facing very serious charges of kidnapping, rape and attempted murder, yet he was allowed to cop a guilty plea to a single count of child molestation, for which he received a sentence of one to ten years. He ultimately served less than three years, with much of that time spent at the notorious California Medical Facility at Vacaville. Also housed at Vacaville during that time was Donald DeFreeze, who would soon emerge as Cinque, leader of the so-called Symbionese Liberation Army. According to Dr. Colin Ross, during that same time period, "the CIA was conducting mind control experiments [at Vacaville] under MKSEARCH Subproject 3."

In August 1974, a prison psychiatrist recommended that Alcala be released and he was paroled to LA County and required to register with the local police as a sex offender. Within just weeks of gaining his freedom though, Alcala kidnapped a thirteen-year-old girl and was promptly arrested once again. He again caught a lucky break and was found guilty only of violating his parole and of furnishing drugs to a minor, escaping far more serious charges. He served about two-and-a-half years and was paroled on June 16, 1977. Just days after being released, he asked his parole officer for permission to take a trip to New York City, and, since he had behaved himself so well the last time he was on parole, his request was granted.

Alcala remained in New York for a little over a month, ostensibly to visit relatives. During his time there, a woman by the name of Ellen Jane Hover went missing. Being the small world that it is, Ellen just happened to be the daughter of Herman Hover, who had been the longtime owner of Ciro's on the Sunset Strip, the club that famously launched the career of the Byrds. She was also the goddaughter of Sammy Davis, Jr. For reasons that were never explained, the FBI took a keen interest in Hover's disappearance, which happened to come at a time when New York City was gripped by intense fear. It was, after all, the infamous 'Summer of Sam' and Hover's disappearance on July 15, 1977, was sandwiched between two Son of Sam attacks, one on June 26 and another on July 31.

Hover remained missing for almost a full year, until her skeletal remains were discovered in June of 1978, in a shallow grave on, of all places, the Rockefeller estate in Westchester County. It would be over three decades later that Rodney Alcala would be charged with her murder.

Upon his return from New York, Alcala applied for a job as a typesetter at the Los Angeles Times. He applied using his real name and was promptly hired, despite having been twice convicted for felony offenses, having served time for crimes committed against children, being a registered sex offender, being on parole, and holding the distinction of once numbering among the FBI's Ten Most Wanted. A coworker would later say, perhaps tellingly, that Alcala seemed like he knew a lot of famous people.

On November 10, 1977, the nude, brutalized body of eighteen-year-old Jill Barcomb was found posed on a side road adjacent to, and in full view of, the Marlon Brando estate overlooking Laurel Canyon. The murder was investigated by LAPD detective Phillip Vannatter, who would later famously tote a vial of blood around with him while investigating the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. For many, many years, Barcomb's death was credited to the Hillside Strangler team of Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi. Like the Strangler victims, Jill was found nude, strangled, tortured, sexually assaulted, bound and posed on a hillside. And her death occurred amidst a string of Strangler killings-Judith Miller on October 31, Lissa Kastin on November 6, Barcomb on November 10, Kathleen Robinson on November 18, and Kristina Weckler, Delores Cepeda, and Sonja Johnson all found dead on November 20. In addition, Barcomb knew Strangler victim Miller. Nevertheless, the murder would eventually be credited to Alcala, but not for nearly forty years.

According to the official version of events then, Judith Miller, chosen at random, was killed on Halloween by a pair of serial killers. And then a mere ten days later, in an officially unrelated event, her friend Jill Barcomb, also chosen at random, was killed by a different serial killer who, despite being unconnected to the other two serial killers, nevertheless killed and posed Barcomb in a manner remarkably similar to the way Miller was killed and posed. One has to wonder what the odds of that actually happening would be.

In any event, Jill Barcomb, found not far from where Marina Habe had been found nearly a decade earlier, is yet another tragic addition to the Laurel Canyon Death List. As is, I suppose, Ellen Jane Hover. Tali Shapiro narrowly avoided making the list.

At the request of the FBI, Alcala was brought down to the LAPD's Parker Center in December 1977 for questioning concerning the still-missing Ellen Hover. He admitted knowing Hover and even acknowledged being with her on the day she vanished, but he claimed to know nothing about her disappearance. That same month, twenty-eight-year-old nurse Georgia Wixted was found brutally murdered in her Malibu, California, bedroom. For nearly thirty years, there would be absolutely nothing linking Rodney Alcala to the crime or the crime scene.

In early 1978, Alcala was questioned by the Hillside Strangler Task Force, which was composed of members of the LAPD, the LA Sheriff's Department and the Glendale Police Department. He was arrested at that time, though only for the benign offense of being in the possession of marijuana, for which he served a brief jail sentence. For a time though, he was considered a "person of interest" to the task force. On June 23, 1978, just after Alcala's release from that brief jail stint, the savaged body of thirty- two- year-old legal secretary Charlotte Lamb was discovered on the floor of an apartment laundry room in El Segundo, California. Once again, there was no evidence linking Alcala to either the crime, the victim, or the crime scene, and he would not be named as a suspect for some twenty-five years.

On September 13 of that same year, Alcala infamously appeared as Bachelor #1 on television's The Dating Game. Despite his criminal history and sex offender status, which surely would have been discovered during the show's screening process, he was presented to women across the country as one of the nation's most eligible and desirable bachelors. The guy doing that presenting was Dating Game producer Chuck Barris, who has stated publicly that he was a CIA asset at the time the show was in production and that the show itself was essentially an elaborate CIA front designed to provide cover for Barris' own travels and activities. Mr. Barris was also, according to some reports, a onetime resident of everyone's favorite canyon.

On February 13 of the following year, Alcala picked up a fifteen-year-old hitchhiker by the name of Monique Hoyt, who voluntarily spent that night at Alcala's home. The next day, Valentine's Day, thirty-four-year-old Rodney Alcala took fifteen-year-old Monique Hoyt into the woods to shoot nude photos. At some point the situation turned violent and nonconsensual, resulting in yet another arrest for Alcala. Though facing very serious felony charges, including kidnapping, rape, and the production of child pornography, his bail was set at a paltry $10, 000. At the end of April, Alcala gave his two-week notice to his superiors at the LA Times. How he had managed to keep his job through his jail sentence for marijuana possession and his arrest for kidnapping a young girl is anyone's guess. The Times apparently used the same screening service as The Dating Game.

On June 14, another young woman, twenty-one-year-old Jill Parentau, turned up dead in her Burbank, California, apartment. Once again, there was no evidence linking Rodney Alcala to the crime and Parentau's murder would remain unsolved for two-and-a-half decades. Six days after her murder, on the eve of the summer solstice, twelve-year-old Robin Samsoe of Huntington Beach, California, went missing after spending time at the beach with her best friend. Officially, her remains were discovered twelve days later in a heavily wooded area allegedly chosen by Rodney Alcala. But the reality appears to be that it is unknown what became of Samsoe. What is known is that from the time of her disappearance, authorities took a much different approach to dealing with Alcala than they had in the past. Before a month had passed, he was back in prison and would never walk free again.

As the story is generally told, Samsoe was strolling the beach with her friend when they were approached by Alcala with a request to take their photos, ostensibly for a student photo contest. A neighbor who happened to be passing by approached the trio, at which time Alcala lowered his head and quickly shuffled off. The girls went about their business without giving the incident much thought and Samsoe soon said goodbye to her friend. Borrowing the friend's bike, she headed off to a ballet class that she never made it to.

On the afternoon of July 2, a worker with the US Forestry Service discovered human skeletal remains in a heavily wooded section of the Angeles National Forest. The area was littered with discarded beer bottles and cigarette butts. The remains appeared to be those of an adult, and investigators, according to a June 1989 article in Orange Coast Magazine, believed the death to be "drug-related." The crime scene, according to the same report, "was given only a cursory examination by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department." Five days later an LA County coroner decided that the remains were actually those of a child. And not just any child, but the missing Robin Samsoe. Unexplained was how the remains of a child could have been mistaken for those of an adult. Also unexplained was how the child could have been reduced to skeletal remains, completely stripped of flesh and hair, in an absurdly short amount of time.

The only thing that would ever tie Rodney Alcala to those scattered remains would be the testimony of one Dana Crappa, a twenty-year-old seasonal firefighter with the Forestry Service. And it is here, with the introduction of Dana Crappa, that this story grows very murky. As Orange Coast Magazine noted, "The exact bit of information that first tied Crappa to the disappearance of Robin Samsoe is not known." Indeed, there doesn't appear to be anything that initially tied Crappa to Samsoe. But with considerable molding by police, Crappa would emerge as the star witness for the prosecution.

For reasons that have never been adequately explained, Huntington Beach Police called Crappa in for questioning on August 2, 1979, exactly one month after the discovery of the remains. At that time, Crappa was shown photos of Alcala and Samsoe as well as of Alcala's car. She told investigators that she had never seen the man or the girl before, but that the car might resemble one she had seen parked near Mile Marker 11 (near where the remains were discovered) on either June 7 or June 14 at around 9:30-10:00 PM. Seeing as how the dates provided by Crappa were well before Samsoe's disappearance, this information was of no use to police. The time of day was entirely wrong as well. Pressed by police to state whether it might have been June 20 or June 21 when she saw the vehicle, Crappa responded that it "definitely could not have been."

On August 7, Crappa was again questioned by police. Miraculously, on this occasion she recalled that she had seen the vehicle similar to Alcala's on June 21, and had done so between 8:00 and 8:30 PM! She added that, prior to her discovery of the remains on July 2, she had no awareness of the crime scene. But at preliminary trial proceedings not long after that meeting, Crappa told a different version of her story; she again said that she had seen the car on June 21, but she now claimed that it had been between 10:00-10:30 PM. She added that she had not seen anyone near the parked car. She also added that she had first seen the corpse on June 29, several days earlier than she had previously claimed. And she added that the corpse was already skeletal at that time.

On February 7, 1980, Crappa met with Huntington Beach Police detective Art Droz and a police psychologist named Larry Blum. She had, however, previously stated that she wanted no further interaction with the police so she was deliberately not told that the men she was speaking to were police personnel. Although authorities heatedly deny it, it is painfully obvious that Ms. Crappa was subjected to hypnotic interrogation techniques during that meeting and at future meetings. According to police, at the February 7 meeting she claimed that she had seen the vehicle on June 21 and that she had in fact seen a man by the car after all! She also said that when she had returned on June 29 she had found clothes strewn about the area, a crusty knife, and six .22-caliber bullet casings. For reasons never explained, she also claimed that she had picked up the bullet casings and thrown them away!

By that time, Crappa's testimony was so ridiculously riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies that it should have had no value to prosecutors in any kind of real trial. Police and prosecutors though weren't quite done with her.

On February 11, she once again unknowingly spoke to police investigators. On February 15, she met with a detective and one of the prosecutors on the case. By then she was claiming to have seen the car on June 20 and to have seen a man guiding a young girl away from the car and into the woods! On the day that meeting was held, the presiding judge ruled that Alcala's prior offenses would be allowed into evidence, including the fact that Alcala was suspected of involvement in Hover's death, a crime he had never even been charged with, let alone convicted of. As Sands noted, "The ruling was a momentous victory for the prosecution. Because there was little direct evidence linking Alcala to the Samsoe crime, the prior attacks would lend credence to their case." It was becoming perfectly obvious that Rodney Alcala was not going to get anything resembling a fair trial.

On February 26, Crappa once again met with detectives and prosecutors. Somewhere around that time she reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown and allegedly became suicidal, leading to her being involuntarily institutionalized. That, needless to say, must have greatly facilitated the process of programming the witness. A defense psychiatrist by the name of Albert J. Rosenstein would later describe Crappa in open court as "a Manchurian candidate at a minor level."

As Alcala's trial got underway on March 6, 1980, the defendant was paraded into the courtroom in cuffs and leg shackles in a deliberate attempt to prejudice the jury. But the real "linchpin of the trial, " as Sands wrote, "would be the testimony of one Dana Crappa, twenty-one." On the stand, Crappa's demeanor was odd, to say the least. She frequently took long, awkward pauses-when she wasn't staring blankly into space. According to Orange Coast Magazine, her demeanor was so bizarre that the trial judge considered ending her testimony prematurely. She did though tell the story prosecutors wanted her to tell-a story that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the story she told when first mysteriously contacted by police.

In court, Crappa claimed that she had seen the suspect's vehicle on June 20. She also said that she had seen a man resembling Alcala guide a young girl who resembled Samsoe into the woods. Although she had found what she allegedly observed disturbing, she acknowledged that she had told no one of the incident. When her curiosity got the best of her, she said, she had returned to the area on June 25 to have a look around. At that time, she had allegedly seen Samsoe's body, decapitated and with part of her face gone. She had, of course, returned by herself and told no one of her supposed discovery. Crappa further told the jury that she had returned a second time on June 29, again alone. On that visit, she claimed, she had observed that Samsoe's body had been reduced to a pile of bones. In just four days! Following that extremely unlikely second visit, she again, of course, told no one. We are apparently to believe then that she was brave enough to return to a remote murder scene alone on two occasions, but not brave enough to report her discoveries, even anonymously.

Crappa's testimony had no credibility whatsoever, and she was not the only seriously dubious witness trotted out by the prosecution. There were also Robert J. Dove and Michael Herrera, a pair of Orange County jail inmates, both of whom testified that Alcala had given them jailhouse confessions. A third OC inmate, however, testified that he, Dove and Herrera had fabricated the confessions to gain favor with authorities. What the jury didn't hear was that all three inmates just happened to be clients of Alcala's first court-appointed attorney. Of the thousands of inmates in the OC jail, Alcala had supposedly chosen to confess his crime only to three guys who happened to be represented by the guy who was supposed to be defending him.

Despite their best efforts, prosecutors were unable to present any physical evidence at all tying Alcala to the murder of Robin Samsoe; there was no fingerprint evidence, no fiber or hair evidence, no blood evidence, and no DNA evidence. There also don't appear to have been many witnesses who weren't delivering brazenly perjured testimony.

After a half-hearted defense that included alibi testimony from Alcala's girlfriend and two of his sisters, followed by closing arguments and jury instructions, deliberations began on April 29, 1980. Jurors returned the next day with a guilty verdict on the charge of first-degree murder. The date was, of course, April 3D-because that's just the way these things always seem to work. The penalty phase of the trial was a perfunctory affair with just two witnesses appearing for the prosecution, both of them parole officers to whom Alcala had previously reported. He was quickly sentenced to death.

At Alcala's first appeal hearing, inmate Joseph Drake took the stand to repeat his claim that he, Dove and Herrera had fabricated Alcala's confessions in order to strike an "informer's bargain" with authorities. He was joined by Dove, who freely admitted on the stand that his previous testimony had been perjured. The inmate testimony had been crucial to the prosecution's goal of adding the special circumstance of kidnapping, which was necessary for the imposition of the death penalty. On May 28, 1981, the presiding judge issued an extraordinary ruling stating that there had been no "perjured evidence introduced during the trial, and that even had there been, that was not a substantial consideration regarding Alcala's guilt." (emphasis added)

The special circumstance of kidnapping, therefore, would stand and Alcala was returned to Death Row. On August 23, 1984, however, the California Supreme Court ruled that the lower court had erred in allowing into evidence Alcala's prior offenses. Rodney Alcala would be getting a new trial after all. The available literature invariably expresses outrage over this reversal, claiming that the allegedly criminal-coddling 'liberal' courts let him off on "a technicality, 1I though that is far removed from the truth.

In April of 1986, Alcala's second trial for the murder of Robin Samsoe got underway. There was a problem though: Dana Crappa, whose testimony was the only hope the state had of getting a conviction, privately informed the judge that she would not be able to testify because she remembered nothing about the incident. She also told him that she did not remember previously testifying, which isn't surprising considering that she delivered that testimony in an obviously induced mental state. Signaling that this trial was going to be just as much of a sham as the first trial, the judge ruled that he would allow Crappa's previous testimony to be read into the record without Crappa being present. That, of course, deprived the jury of the ability to judge Crappa's demeanor and body language and all the other non-verbal clues that jurors use to gauge someone's honesty and credibility. It also denied the defense the opportunity to cross-examine the witness and confront her with her wildly varying accounts of the incident.

The remainder of the trial largely followed the pattern of Alcala's first trial, with a number of women-including Alcala's mother, two sisters, and a female coworker at the Times-providing testimony for the defense. The jury once again returned with a guilty verdict and he was once again sentenced to death, but only after blasting his attorneys in court for being "unprepared and unwilling" to mount a real defense. Some six years later, on December 31, 1992, the California Supreme Court affirmed Alcala's second conviction. And that, for the next decade or so, would be the end of the Rodney Alcala saga.

That all changed on March 30, 2001, when a federal district court set aside Alcala's second conviction based on the wildly improper introduction of Crappa's prior testimony. The court also opined that the defense had been improperly prohibited from introducing evidence that Crappa's testimony had been induced. On June 27, 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the federal court and vacated Alcala's conviction, additionally citing the failure by police to secure and properly investigate the crime scene.

The stage was now set for Alcala to stand trial for the third time for the murder of Robin Samsoe. The state though was facing quite a dilemma: for whatever reason, there was still a very strong desire to have Alcala take the fall for Samsoe's disappearance, but there was no semblance of a case left. There would be no perjured inmate testimony. There would be no induced testimony from Dana Crappa. There would be no inflammatory admission of prior uncharged crimes. There would be no parading of Alcala in handcuffs and leg shackles. And there still was not a shred of physical evidence tying Alcala to the crime or the alleged crime scene.

On October 17, 2003, Alcala filed a motion to act as his own attorney in the coming trial. This was cast by the media as a misguided, narcissistic attempt by Alcala to put himself in the spotlight. In truth, he was undoubtedly aware that he had been sold out twice before and likely would be again. Indeed, in June 2003, the very month that Alcala's conviction had been vacated, DNA evidence had supposedly identified him as the killer of Georgia Wixted. The state was going to be taking a novel approach to railroading Alcala this time.

Alcala would soon allegedly be linked by DNA evidence to the Lamb, Parentau and Barcomb murders as well. Like Wixted, they were all killed in Los Angeles County, which is under a different court jurisdiction than Orange County, where Alcala had previously stood trial for Samsoe's murder. All five cases were handed off to a grand jury, which, as California grand juries do, met secretly to render a decision. According to Sands, "After hearing all the evidence against Alcala, the grand jury came down with an indictment. Although Lamb, Parenteau, Barcomb, and Wixted had all been murdered in Los Angeles County, the grand jury held open the possibility that prosecutors could consolidate all five cases- including that of Robin Samsoe-and try Alcala in Orange County."

After numerous delays, the consolidated trial began in Orange County in early 2010. It was the first time, and to date the last time, that such a cross-county consolidation had been allowed. The state was now going to try to convict Alcala for the Samsoe murder by presenting it as one of a string of murders, with the other four allegedly being open-and- shut, scientifically unimpeachable cases. It appeared that judicial malfeasance had now reached such a level that the state had dusted off four very old murder cases and manufactured evidence linking Alcala to them as a way of garnering a conviction for a fifth murder that was otherwise not prosecutable.

Alcala was by then being widely identified by police and the media as a prolific serial killer who was likely responsible for other, undiscovered murders. Some of the most over-the-top media coverage came from the UK, where a February 2010 headline in the Telegraph declared that "US serial killer Rodney Alcala could be 'new Ted Bundy.'" An April 2010 headline in the London Daily Mail was even more histrionic: "The 'most prolific' serial killer in US history is sentenced to death as police fear he could be behind 130 murders."

At Alcala's third trial, a fingerprint technician testified that a palm print recovered from the scene of Georgia Wixted's murder thirty-three years earlier was a match for Rodney Alcala. Another technician testified that blood evidence recovered from another of the murder scenes also was a match. Nobody though bothered to explain why Alcala was just then being identified as the perpetrator of these crimes if the evidence linking a known violent sex offender and 'person of interest' to the murders had supposedly been in existence for more than thirty years!

Craig Robison, one of the lead detectives on the Samsoe case, testified that he had arrested Alcala on July 24, 1979, and taken him down to the station while other Huntington Beach officers executed a search warrant on the home. It was at that time, according to Robison, that a Sergeant Jenkins had allegedly discovered a receipt for a Seattle storage locker. Rather then seize the receipt, however, he purportedly left it there and copied down the information on it. The actual receipt was never produced at trial and there is no way of verifying that it ever existed. Following that seriously dubious lead, detectives had discovered a storage unit purportedly filled with photographs and other evidence Alcala had stashed there. Immediately after the discovery of Samsoe's alleged remains, Alcala is said to have driven to Seattle and deposited the items in the unit, after which he stayed overnight and then drove back home. He had, of course, told no one of this alleged trip and no witnesses could place him in Seattle. And there was no explanation for why he would have driven all the way there, to a city he had no known connection to and was not known to have ever visited, to stash the items. Police would later try to connect Alcala to murders previously attributed to Seattle's so-called Green River killer.

Alcala was, needless to say, convicted a third time for the murder of Robin Samsoe, as well as for the murders of Lamb, Wixted, Parentau and Barcomb. On March 2, 2010, the penalty phase of the trial began. A week later, on March 9, the jury returned once again with a recommendation that Alcala be executed. Three weeks later, the presiding judge formally sentenced him to die by lethal injection.

Six months after that third conviction, the television show 48 Hours Mystery aired The Killing Game, a look at the Rodney Alcala case that had been produced by longtime correspondent Harold Dow. The episode was aired posthumously; Dow had died suddenly and unexpectedly a month earlier, on August 21, 2010, just before completing work on the project. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Dow had discovered something about the Alcala case that those with vested interests did not want aired on national television.

Whether or not Alcala's third conviction in California will stand remains to be seen. Probably as a fallback option in case the convictions are once again overturned, as they certainly should be, Alcala was indicted in 2011 and subsequently convicted in New York for the murders of Crilley and Hover, though it is unclear what evidence those convictions were based on. Over the last several years, authorities have circulated scores of Alcala's photographs in an attempt to link him to additional crimes. To date, not one of those photos has been linked to any known murders or missing persons cases.

So what, at the end of the day, are we to make of Alcala's curious connections to the Laurel Canyon 'peace, love and understanding' scene? If his official bio is to be believed, his first victim, the daughter of a record executive, was snatched from the mouth of the canyon. One of his last victims was left posed at the northern end. And all along the way, such names as Jim Morrison, Roman Polanski, Marlon Brando and Steve Hodel, and such iconic places as Ciros and the Chateau Marmont, unexpectedly pop up in the storyline.

Rodney Alcala's story is a strange one even by serial killer standards. But it is far from being the only serial killer story that the mainstream media got wrong. Interested readers can find a wealth of such stories in my previous book, Programmed to Kill.


THOUGH I HAVE A FAIRLY SHORT LIST OF PEOPLE TO THANK HERE, THEIR contributions were invaluable and this book wouldn't have been what it is without them.

First off, my sincerest thanks go to Thomas McGrath of Headpress for, among other things, convincing me to overcome my initial skepticism about working with a publisher to turn this material into a book (it began life as a series of web posts). Thanks go out to Thomas as well for his proofreading and editing skills, and for coming up with the title and epigraph. This book would have never come into being without the salesmanship, and infinite patience, of Mr. McGrath.

Next on the list is David Kerekes, again of Headpress, who also lent his considerable proofreading and editing skills to this work. David was also responsible for the formatting and layout of the book, as well as for coming up with a number of the chapter titles. For all of that and more, I owe a huge 'thank you' to Mr. Kerekes, as I do to Mark Critchell, who perfectly captured the tone ofthe book with his eye-catching cover art.

Thanks must also be extended to my esteemed colleague, Mr. Nick Bryant, for graciously agreeing to pen the Foreword to this book even though he was working on various projects of his own at the time. And also to my eldest daughter, Alissa McGowan ( for her irreplaceable editorial advice and assistance.

Lastly, I wish to thank my readers for their invaluable input during the time that this book was a work-in-progress. A good portion of the material in this volume was unearthed only by following links and other tips sent in by alert fans of my website. I can't thank you all individually because there are too many of you, a pretty fair number of whom I know only by email handles, but know that this book would have been considerably shorter and less interesting without your input.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:16 am


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