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.

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

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:41 am

Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream
by David McGowan
Text copyright © David McGowan
This volume copyright © Headpress 2014

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You remember that big concert they had back in the 60’s, where everybody was smoking pot, and they were doing experiments on young people? Guess who did all of the flying in of all the bands and drug dealers and everything? Who arranged it all? General Sheehan’s father. Woodstock, New York. That’s where he’s from. Now, isn’t that unusual that the head of NATO would be [organizing a rock concert?]

And his brother was doing all kinds of weapons deals, and selling things to the military. And I went to his wife’s home after my husband disappeared. They lived in a Virginia house.

[Pastor Strawcutter] Was Woodstock a –

[Kay Griggs] Of course! A testing ground for drugs! Of course, it was just an experiment. Like the Jim Jones thing down there. I think even little David Koresh was used.

-- Mrs. Kay Griggs on How the Government Works, Interview with Eric Hufschmid


Table of Contents:

• Back Cover
• Foreword by Nick Bryant
• Preface
• 1 Village of the Damned By Way of an Introduction
• 2 Power to the People Call this a Counterculture?
• 3 Dig! The Laurel Canyon Death List
• 4 Related lives and Relative Deaths
• 5 Desirable People The Canyon's Peculiar Past
• 6 Vito and his Freakers The Sinister Roots of Hippie Culture
• 7 The Death of Godo Paulekas Anger's Infant Lucifer
• 8 All the Young Turks Hollywood Tripping
• 9 Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon
• 10 Helter Skelter in a Summer Swelter Return of the Death List
• 11 Detours Rustic Canyon & Greystone Park
• 12 Riders on the Storm The Doors
• 13 Eight Miles High and Falling Fast The Byrds
• 14 The Great Serendipity Buffalo Springfield
• 15 Beyond Buffalo Springfield and the Monkees, too
• 16 Altamont Pie Gram Parsons
• 17 The Lost Expedition of Gene Clark
• 18 The Wolf King of LA "Papa" John Phillips
• 19 Hungry Freaks, Daddy Frank Zappa
• 20 Born To Be Wild John Kay
• 21 A Whiter Shade of Pale Arthur Lee and Love
• 22 Endless Vibrations The Beach Boys
• 23 The Grim Game Houdini
• 24 Won't Get Fooled Again Punk and New Wave Arrive
• Epilogue
• Acknowledgements
• Selected Bibliography & Filmography
• Index
• About the Author
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:48 am

Back Cover

Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and early 1970s was a magical place where a dizzying array of musical artists congregated to create much of the music that provided the soundtrack to those turbulent times. Members of bands like the Byrds, the Doors, Buffalo Springfield, the Monkees, the Beach Boys, the Turtles, the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Steppenwolf, CSN, Three Dog Night and Love, along with such singer/songwriters as Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, James Taylor and Carole King, lived together and jammed together in the bucolic community nestled in the Hollywood Hills

But there was a dark side to that scene as well.

Many didn't make it out alive, and many deaths remain shrouded in mystery to this day. Far more integrated into the scene than most would like to admit was a guy by the name of Charles Manson, along with his murderous entourage. Also floating about the periphery were various political operatives, up-and-coming politicians and intelligence personnel -- the same sort of people who gave birth to many of the rock stars populating the canyon. And all the canyon's colorful characters -- rock stars, hippies, murderers and politicos -- happily coexisted alongside a covert military installation.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:53 am

FOREWORD
by Nick Bryant

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OSCAR WILDE SAID OF ART, "THOSE WHO GO BENEATH THE SURFACE DO SO at their peril." And author David McGowan has found that Wilde's quote is quite prophetic for the rock'n'roll scene that thrived in Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and 1970s. Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon is McGowan taking a hammer to the icons and mythologies of 1960s counterculture, reducing them to dust, swept away by gusts of pomp, pretense, and even deceit. McGowan though isn't wielding his hammer with the zeal of an establishment conformist or neocon, but rather in the same forlorn spirit as Nietzsche declaring that "God is dead." As a homegrown product of Los Angeles with an encyclopedic knowledge of the southern California rock scene, McGowan appears to be essentially declaring that the gods of his youth are dead.

Laurel Canyon was the fountainhead for the peace, love, and brown rice vibes that overflowed America's airwaves as the Vietnam War raged, but lurking beneath its tie-dyed and florid veneer was an exquisite darkness of drugs, unbridled debauchery, full-tilt depravity, and shocking carnage. When readers of this book are delivered to Laurel Canyon's blood-drenched tapestry of murder and mayhem, they will have to decide whether or not those sinister synchronicities are uncanny coincidences, conspiracies-or perhaps a kaleidoscopic blending of both.

Sprinkled throughout these pages is the ominous specter of the military/ intelligence complex, and perched quite literally atop Laurel Canyon was the top-secret Lookout Mountain Laboratory, which seems to be McGowan's grand metaphor for Dr. Strangelove having a bird's-eye view of the nascent hippie movement, treating it as though it were a petri dish brimming with a lethal biological weapon that could be unleashed in meticulously monitored increments. Indeed, many of Laurel Canyon's rock 'n' roll idols had former incarnations steeped in the world of military/intelligence operations. Jim Morrison, aka "the Lizard King," was one such example. Mr. Mojo Risin' didn't much like to talk about his parents and was even known to tell reporters that his parents were dead. But as it turns out, Lizard King, Sr. was not only alive and well, he just happened to be the commander of the US warships that allegedly came under attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, sparking America's napalm-fueled bloodbath in Vietnam.

Frank Zappa, another major mover and shaker of the Laurel Canyon scene, was certainly the raddest of the rad, so surely he couldn't have had any connections to the military/intelligence complex ... right? Not exactly. According to various accounts collected by McGowan, Zappa was a pro-military autocrat who didn't really resonate with the counterculture's peace and love vibe. Like the Lizard King's dad, Zappa, Sr. was a cog in the intelligence community's dark machinations; Francis Zappa was a chemical warfare specialist with a top security clearance at Edgewood Arsenal near Baltimore, Maryland. Some readers might recognize Edgewood as the location of ominous mind control experiments conducted by the CIA under the rubric of MK-ULTRA.

Guilt by familial association has the potential to be an ill-fated formula for speculation, but McGowan relates accounts of Laurel Canyon luminaries whose own hands were possibly awash in the blood of the military/intelligence complex. Consider, for example, "Papa" John Phillips, who penned the smash hit San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair), imploring thousands of runaways to make bacchanal-laced pilgrimages to the City by the Bay. The son of a Marine Corps captain, Phillips was among the more prominent fixtures of Laurel Canyon who had a particularly interesting interrelationship with the military machine.

Rock superstar Stephen Stills was the cofounder of two Laurel Canyon dynamos-Buffalo Springfield, and, of course, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Surely then hippie icon Stills couldn't possibly be enmeshed in the military-intelligence complex? Maybe, maybe not. The progeny of yet another military family, Stills spent chunks of his childhood in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama, where the US has a history of spreading a genocidal form of "democracy." And McGowan has sifted through accounts of Stills actually confessing to running around the jungles of Vietnam in the early 1960s-anecdotes generally dismissed, as the author notes, as drug-fueled delusions.

Tales of drugs, unbridled debauchery and full-tilt depravity are often populated by ethical eunuchs whose elite deviance yields to particularly malignant appetites, and the people calling Laurel Canyon home were no exception. McGowan introduces us to aging beatnik Vito Paulekas and his "Freaks," a dance troupe of Dionysian goddesses who accompanied Vito to the LA nightclubs where the fledgling Laurel Canyon bands were playing their early gigs. In addition to saturating the dance floors with sultry young nubiles for emerging bands, Vito was also a purveyor of teenage girls for the up-and-coming rockers. McGowan also comments on Vito's swift exodus to Haiti, for reasons explained herein.

Vito Paulekas certainly isn't a household name, but he was far from being a fringe player on the Laurel Canyon scene, where he and his Freaks mingled freely with rock 'n' roll's burgeoning royalty. McGowan collects anecdotes suggesting that Vito may have played a key role in the formation and early success of the Byrds-though his name is conspicuously absent from the autobiographical tome of Byrds co-founder David Crosby. We also find Vito in a string of low-budget films, and in a cameo appearance on one of rock's first concept albums: Zappa's Freak Out! Vito's parental skills, however, left a lot to be desired, as evinced by the very mysterious and bizarre death of his young son, Godo.

Further excavating the idolatry of his youth, McGowan encounters Laurel Canyon fixture Billy Bryars, a male madam and gay porn entrepreneur. Bryers was investigated for trafficking child pornography in the 1970s, whereupon his stable of male hustlers began coughing up the names of frequent flyers at his bordello, the most notable among them being super freak G-man 1. Edgar Hoover and partner Clyde Tolson.

The 1960s was a "revolutionary" epoch not only in music but also in Hollywood, and McGowan discusses the symbiosis between the Laurel Canyon music scene and Hollywood's "Young Turks," with the box office phenomenon Easy Rider providing a salient nexus between Laurel Canyon rockers and Hollywood upstarts. Many of those upstarts, including Warren Beatty, Peter and Jane Fonda, Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, Marlon Brando, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, Peter Lawford, Dennis Hopper, Ryan O'Neal, Mia Farrow, Peter Sellers, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, were among Papa John and Mama Michelle Phillips' circle of friends.

Also making the rounds in Laurel Canyon was America's favorite psychopath, Charles Manson. And Charlie and his "Family" weren't just a peripheral flock of crazed killers among the Laurel Canyon sovereigns; to the contrary, the Family mingled with many of the Canyon's rock stars. Manson even laid down tracks in Brian Wilson's home studio, stunning the likes of Neil Young. "He had this kind of music that nobody else was doing," said Neil of Charlie. "I thought he really had something crazy, something great. He was like a living poet." Charlie also impressed Terry Melcher, the Byrds' first producer and a major force in sculpting the Laurel Canyon music scene. Melcher also recorded Manson, finding him to be a much more amicable character than David Crosby.

Manson's homicidal lieutenant Bobby Beausoleil also had some impressive moves as a guitarist-and an occultist. Beausoleil played in a number of forgotten bands that had an occult topspin, one of which even opened for Buffalo Springfield. Bobby eventually landed a gig as a rhythm guitarist for the Grass Roots, which later transmuted into the Laurel Canyon band Love.

McGowan also touches on the grisly "Four on the Floor" or "Wonderland" murders, which left notorious drug dealer Ron Launius and three of his gang bludgeoned to death on the floor of a house on Laurel Canyon's Wonderland Avenue. Launius dealt drugs to Laurel Canyon's aristocracy, as well as to porn star John Holmes, then in the twilight of his career. Holmes also befriended LA crime boss/club owner Eddie Nash, who he then betrayed, with fatal consequences.

Truth be told, the Manson and Wonderland Murders were merely spatters on Laurel Canyon's blood-drenched tapestry. In the pages of this fascinating book, McGowan chronicles tale after tale of suicide and murder, while delivering readers to a web of sinister synchronicities. Ultimately, it is up to the reader to decide whether Laurel Canyon, in its heyday, was the counterculture haven portrayed by other chroniclers of the era, or whether it was the epicenter of intrigues whose ripple effects are like the aftershock of a nuclear bomb.

Nick Bryant
July 29, 2013
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:56 am

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"I think these days, especially in the States, you have to be a politician or an assassin or something to really be a superstar."

-- Jim Morrison


Before he was the Lizard King: US Navy Admiral George Stephen Morrison and his son, James Douglas Morrison, on the bridge of the USSBon Homme Richard, January 1964.

This book is dedicated to all those whose blood still stains the canyon floor.


PREFACE

IT BEGAN INNOCENTLY ENOUGH.

In my normal, everyday life I spend a fair amount of time researching corruption and criminality in the realms of politics and law enforcement. Much of that research has taken me down some very dark and twisted paths. But this was going to be different. I was, after all, going to be vacationing in a lush, tropical paradise and I really just wanted to turn my brain off for a couple weeks and forget about all of that.

Not long before this much-anticipated break from reality, my eldest daughter had given me a copy of Michael Walker's Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-RolI's Legendary Neighborhood, which chronicles the Los Angeles music scene of the late 1960s through the 1970s. It seemed like the ideal escapist entertainment that would undoubtedly conjure up many fond memories of the music that provided the soundtrack to my formative years. What could be further removed from my usual reading material?

As is often the case though, things didn't work out exactly as planned. Alarm bells started going off in my head soon after arriving at my destination and diving into the book. What was this about secret underground tunnels connecting some of the iconic Laurel Canyon properties? And what about all those mysterious fires that wiped away the homes of a number of prominent singers and musicians? And why were there so many violent deaths so closely associated with a scene that was supposed to be all about peace and love? And what of Walker's throwaway mention of a "secret fortified" military installation sitting right smackdab in the middle of hippiedom? And why did at least a few of America's new minstrels seem to come from career military families and from the world of covert intelligence operations? And how exactly do the casual allusions to pedophilia fit into this increasingly curious scene?

While Walker had done a decent job of telling the Laurel Canyon story from a mainstream perspective, there seemed to be a much more intriguing story hidden in the details that he tended to cast aside as interesting but largely meaningless incongruities. Before I was even halfway through my sorely needed rest-and-relaxation time, I was champing at the bit to get back home and dig deeper into this story. And immediately upon my return, I began devouring everything I could find that had been written on the subject.

Although I am regarded by many people as a 'conspiracy theorist,' which is more often than not utilized as a pejorative term, I do all of my research through very mainstream channels. I am a big believer in the notion that 'the truth is out there,' but don't expect it to be delivered to you in a tidy package by any mainstream media outlets. Finding it involves assembling a jigsaw puzzle of sorts, with the goal being to gather up all the bits and pieces of information that other writers tend to present as throwaway facts and/or interesting anomalies. Sometimes those bits and pieces end up being no more than interesting anomalies, but past experience has taught me that if those divergent facts are properly assembled, a new picture often begins to emerge that is strikingly at odds with what is widely accepted as our consensus reality.

At the end of the day, it is really all about pattern recognition. If, for example, just a few prominent Laurel Canyon musicians happened to come from military/intelligence families, then we could probably safely write that off as an interesting but largely inconsequential aberration. But if an uncanny number of the leading lights of the Laurel Canyon scene grew up in such an environment, then that is clearly a meaningful pattern. And if a few of the new breed of stars happened to have violent death intrude upon their personal lives, then that would be a tragic but largely inconsequential fact. But when it becomes clear that violent death surrounded the entire scene, with whole families at times dying off under suspicious circumstances, then that again is a distinguishing pattern-and one that has been all but ignored by other chroniclers of the scene.

There is little doubt in my mind that this book will not be warmly received by all readers. In our celebrity-driven culture, calling into question the character and motivations of so many widely admired and respected figures from the entertainment community is never a good way to win popularity contests. And when those revered figures are overwhelmingly viewed as icons of various leftist causes, it is definitely not the way to win fans among those who consider themselves to be liberals, progressives or leftists. But while my sympathies lie solidly in the leftward flanks of the political spectrum, there are no sacred cows in either this book or in any of my past work.

I really have no agenda other than to seek out unspoken truths and better my own understanding of the world we live in. I have no political party affiliations and have never been associated in any way with any governmental or quasi-governmental entities. And for the record, I was not born into the world of military intelligence operations; my rather uneventful childhood was spent in a quiet slice of suburbia with two public school teachers as parents. I have never claimed to be in possession of any 'inside information' or to have access to any highly placed, confidential sources. My research and the views expressed in my work are very much my own.

While almost all of my past and present literary contributions are generally regarded as being quite controversial, the individual facts contained in this volume are not really controversial at all. All of them, as previously noted, have been mined from very respectable mainstream sources. It is only the way that I have presented those facts-in other words, the way that I have chosen to assemble the puzzle-that makes them controversial.

There will undoubtedly be those who will stridently claim that I have carefully cherry-picked my facts to paint an unnecessarily dark portrait of many of the iconic figures who make up the cast of this story. Anyone, so the argument goes, could be made to look bad through such a journalistic approach. I would strongly disagree with that assessment, however. Such criticisms, in my opinion, completely miss the point of the book-which is that when stripped of the usual spin that accompanies them, and when assembled so that they become part of overriding patterns, these 'anomalous' facts reveal truths that would not otherwise be visible.

Another criticism I anticipate is that I did not go out and attempt to speak directly to the people who made up the scene. True enough, but the primary reason for that is that there is very little chance that the aging rock stars and their handlers would have wanted anything to do with me. Other chroniclers of the era have gained access to those involved, but that access has come, or so it appears to me, with a steep price in journalistic integrity. The inevitable result is what amounts to puff pieces with a mind-numbing sameness, with the same tired anecdotal stories uncritically told over and over again in the very same way, even when those stories can't possibly be true.

I have no desire to serve as a publicist for the estates of Jim Morrison, John Phillips or Frank Zappa, nor do I have any interest in filling the pages of this book with the same apocryphal tales told by other scribes. There are any number of literary offerings listed in the bibliography that will provide that type of a reading experience. My goal here is to break new ground and open readers' minds to the possibility that other writers may have left out some of the most important elements of this underreported tale.

The story of the scene that played out in Laurel Canyon from the mid-1960s through the end of the 1970s is an endlessly fascinating one. It wasn't until fairly recently that the mainstream version of the tale was belatedly told, and even now it remains a story unknown by most of those who were not a part of it. Virtually everyone has heard of the Haight-Ashbury scene up north in San Francisco, but even most native Angelenos remain ignorant of the even larger music and counterculture scene that played out in the Hollywood Hills.

It seems a bit odd that, nearly a full half-century after the fact, the Haight is almost universally regarded as the birthplace of hippies and flower children, despite the fact that the Laurel Canyon scene preceded and largely inspired what became a parallel scene up north. Why is it that the Haight has been thrust into the spotlight for so long while so little attention has been paid to the scene that spawned it? Perhaps the Laurel Canyon scene was hiding so many dark secrets that it was better to just let it lie undisturbed.

And perhaps it is now time to shine a light into some of the darker corners of the canyon to see what kind of skeletons might be hiding there.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:00 am

1. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED BY WAY OF AN INTRODUCTION

"There's something happening here / What it is ain't exactly clear"

JOIN ME NOW, IF YOU HAVE THE TIME, AS WE TAKE A STROLL DOWN MEMORY lane to a time nearly five decades ago-a time when America last had uniformed ground troops fighting a sustained and bloody battle to impose some decidedly Orwellian 'democracy' on a sovereign nation.

It is the first week of August, 1964, and US warships under the command of US Navy Admiral George Stephen Morrison have allegedly come under attack while patrolling Vietnam's Tonkin Gulf. This event, subsequently dubbed the 'Tonkin Gulf Incident,' will result in the immediate passing by the US Congress of the obviously pre-drafted Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which will, in turn, quickly lead to America's deep immersion into the bloody Vietnam quagmire. Before it is over, well over 50,000 American bodies-along with literally millions of Southeast Asian bodies-will litter the battlefields of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

For the record, the Tonkin Gulf Incident appears to differ somewhat from other alleged provocations that have driven this country to war. This was not, as we have seen so many times before, a 'false flag' operation (which is to say, an operation that involves Uncle Sam attacking himself and then pointing an accusatory finger at someone else). It was also not, as we have also seen on more than one occasion, an attack that was quite deliberately provoked. No, what the Tonkin Gulf Incident actually was, as it turns out, is an 'attack' that never took place at all. The entire incident, as has been all but officially acknowledged, was spun from whole cloth. (It is quite possible, however, that the intent was to provoke a defensive response, which could have then been cast as an unprovoked attack on U.S ships. The ships in question were on an intelligence mission and were operating in a decidedly provocative manner. It is quite possible that when Vietnamese forces failed to respond as anticipated, Uncle Sam decided to just pretend as though they had.)

Nevertheless, by early February 1965, the US will-without a declaration of war and with no valid reason to wage one-begin indiscriminately bombing North Vietnam. By March of that same year, the infamous Operation Rolling Thunder will commence. Over the course of the next three-and-a-half years, millions of tons of bombs, missiles, rockets, incendiary devices and chemical warfare agents will be dumped on the people of Vietnam in what can only be described as one of the worst crimes against humanity ever perpetrated on this planet.

Also in March of 1965, the first uniformed US soldier officially sets foot on Vietnamese soil (although Special Forces units masquerading as 'advisers' and 'trainers' have been there for at least four years, and likely much longer). By April 1965, fully 25,000 uniformed American kids, most still teenagers barely out of high school, are slogging through the rice paddies of Vietnam. By the end of the year, US troop strength will have surged to 200,000.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world in those early months of 1965, a new 'scene' is just beginning to take shape in the city of Los Angeles. In a geographically and socially isolated community known as Laurel Canyon-a heavily wooded, rustic, serene, yet vaguely ominous slice of LA nestled in the hills that separate the Los Angeles basin from the San Fernando Valley-musicians, singers and songwriters suddenly begin to gather as though summoned there by some unseen Pied Piper. Within months, the 'hippie/flower child' movement is begotten there, along with the new style of music that will provide the soundtrack for the tumultuous second half of the 1960s.

Beginning in the mid-1960s and carrying through the decade of the 1970s, an uncanny number of rock music superstars will emerge from Laurel Canyon. The first to drop an album is the Byrds, whose biggest star will prove to be David Crosby. The band's debut effort, Mr. Tambourine Man, is released on the summer solstice of 1965. It will quickly be followed by releases from the John Phillips-led Mamas and the Papas (If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, January 1966), Love with Arthur Lee (Love, May 1966), Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (Freak Out, June 1966), Buffalo Springfield, featuring Stephen Stills and Neil Young (Buffalo Springfield, October 1966), and the Doors (The Doors, January 1967).

One of the earliest on the Laurel Canyon/Sunset Strip scene is Jim Morrison, the enigmatic lead singer of the Doors. Jim will quickly become one of the most iconic, controversial, critically acclaimed, and influential figures to take up residence in Laurel Canyon. Curiously enough though, the self-proclaimed "Lizard King" has another claim to fame as well, albeit one that none of his numerous chroniclers will feel is of much relevance to his career and possible untimely death: he is the son, as it happens, of the aforementioned Admiral George Stephen Morrison.

And so it is that, even while the father is actively conspiring to fabricate an incident that will be used to massively accelerate an illegal war, the son is positioning himself to become an icon of the 'hippie' / anti-war crowd. Nothing unusual about that, I suppose. It is, you know, a small world and all. And it is not as if Jim Morrison's story is in any way unique.

During the early years of its heyday, Laurel Canyon's father figure is the rather eccentric personality known as Frank Zappa. Though he and his various Mothers of Invention lineups will never attain the commercial success of the band headed by the admiral's son, Frank will be a hugely influential figure among his contemporaries. Ensconced in an abode dubbed the 'Log Cabin'-which sat right in the heart of Laurel Canyon, at the crossroads of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Lookout Mountain Avenue-Zappa will play host to virtually every musician who passes through the canyon in the mid- to late-1960s. He will also discover and sign numerous acts to his various Laurel Canyon-based record labels. Many of these acts will be rather bizarre and somewhat obscure characters (think Captain Beefheart and Larry "Wild Man" Fischer), but some of them, such as psychedelic rocker cum shock-rocker Alice Cooper, will go on to superstardom.

Zappa, along with certain members of his sizable entourage (the Log Cabin was run as an early commune, with numerous hangers-on occupying various rooms in the main house and the guest house, as well as the peculiar caves and tunnels lacing the grounds of the home; far from the quaint homestead the name seems to imply, the Log Cabin was a cavernous five-level home that featured a 2,000+ square-foot living room with three massive chandeliers and an enormous floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace), will also be instrumental in introducing the look and attitude that will define the 'hippie' counterculture-although the Zappa crew prefers the label 'freak'. Nevertheless, Zappa will never really make a secret of the fact that he has nothing but contempt for the hippie culture that he will help create and with which he will surround himself.

Given that Zappa is, by various accounts, a pro-military, rigidly authoritarian control-freak, it is perhaps unsurprising that he will not feel a kinship with the youth movement that he will help nurture. And it is probably safe to say that Frank's dad also would have had little regard for the youth culture of the 1960s, given that Francis Zappa was, in case you were wondering, a chemical warfare specialist assigned to-where else?-the Edgewood Arsenal near Baltimore, Maryland. Edgewood is, of course, the longtime home of America's chemical warfare program, as well as a facility frequently cited as being deeply enmeshed in MKULTRA operations. Curiously enough, Frank Zappa literally grew up at the Edgewood Arsenal, having lived the first seven years of his life in military housing on the grounds of the facility. The family later moved to Lancaster, California, near Edwards Air Force Base, where Francis Zappa continued to busy himself doing classified work for the military/ intelligence complex. His son, meanwhile, prepped himself to become an icon of the peace and love crowd. Again, nothing unusual about that, I suppose.

Zappa's manager is a shadowy character by the name of Herb Cohen, who had come out to LA from the Bronx with his brother Mutt just before the music and club scene began heating up. Cohen, a former US Marine, had spent a few years traveling the world before his arrival on the Laurel Canyon scene. Those travels, curiously, had taken him to the Congo in 1961, at the very time that leftist Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was being tortured and killed by our very own CIA. Not to worry though; according to one of Zappa's biographers, Cohen wasn't in the Congo on some kind of nefarious intelligence mission. No, he was there, on the contrary, to supply arms to Lumumba "in defiance of the CIA." Because, you know, that is the kind of thing that globetrotting ex-Marines did in those days (as we'll see soon enough when we take a look at another Laurel Canyon luminary).

Making up the other half of Laurel Canyon's First Family is Frank's wife, Gail Zappa, known formerly as Adelaide Sloatman. Gail hails from a long line of career Naval officers, including her father, who spent his life working on classified nuclear weapons research for the US Navy. Gail herself once worked as a secretary for the Office of Naval Research and Development (she also once told an interviewer that she had "heard voices all [her] life"). Many years before their nearly simultaneous arrival in Laurel Canyon, Gail had attended a Naval kindergarten class with "Mr. Mojo Risin'" himself, Jim Morrison (it is claimed that, as children, Gail once hit Jim over the head with a hammer). The very same Jim Morrison had later attended the same Alexandria, Virginia, high school as two other future Laurel Canyon luminaries-John Phillips and Cass Elliot.

"Papa" John Phillips, more so than probably any of the other illustrious residents of Laurel Canyon, will playa major role in spreading the emerging youth 'counterculture' across America. His contribution will be twofold: first, he will co-organize the famed Monterey Pop Festival, which, through unprecedented media exposure, will give mainstream America its first real look at the music and fashions of the nascent hippie movement. Second, Phillips will pen an insipid song known as San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair), which will quickly rise to the top of the charts. Along with the Monterey Pop Festival, the song will be instrumental in luring the disenfranchised (a preponderance of whom will be underage runaways) to San Francisco to create the Haight-Ashbury phenomenon and the famed 1967 Summer of Love.

Before arriving in Laurel Canyon and opening the doors of his home to the soon-to-be famous, the already famous, and the infamous (such as Charlie Manson, whose 'Family' also spent time at the Log Cabin and at the Laurel Canyon home of "Mama" Cass Elliot, which, in case you didn't know, sat right across the road from the Laurel Canyon home of Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here), John Edmund Andrew Phillips was, shockingly enough, yet another child of the military/intelligence complex. The son of US Marine Corp Captain Claude Andrew Phillips and a mother who claimed to have psychic and telekinetic powers, John attended a series of elite military prep schools in the Washington, DC area, culminating in an appointment to the prestigious US Naval Academy at Annapolis.

After leaving Annapolis, John married Susie Adams, a direct descendant of Founding Father John Adams. Susie's father, James Adams, Jr., had been involved in what Susie described as "c1oak-and-dagger stuff with the Air Force in Vienna," or what others like to call covert intelligence operations. Susie herself would later find employment at the Pentagon, alongside John Phillips' older sister, Rosie, who dutifully reported to work at the complex for nearly thirty years. John's mother, "Dene" Phillips, also worked for most of her life for the federal government in some unspecified capacity. And John's older brother, Tommy, was a battle-scarred former US Marine who found work on the Alexandria police force as a cop, albeit one with a disciplinary record for exhibiting a violent streak when dealing with people of color.

John Phillips, of course-though surrounded throughout his life by military/intelligence personnel-did not involve himself in such matters. Or so we are to believe. Before succeeding in his musical career, however, John did seem to find himself, quite innocently of course, in some rather unusual places. One such place was Havana, Cuba, where Phillips arrived at the very height of the Cuban Revolution. For the record, Phillips has claimed that he went to Havana as nothing more than a concerned private citizen, with the intention of-you're going to love this one-"fighting for Castro." Because, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of folks in those days traveled abroad to thwart CIA operations before taking up residence in Laurel Canyon and joining the 'hippie' generation. During the two weeks or so that the Cuban Missile Crisis played out, a few years after Castro took power, Phillips found himself cooling his heels in Jacksonville, Florida-alongside the Mayport Naval Station.

Anyway, let's move on to yet another of Laurel Canyon's earliest and brightest stars, Mr. Stephen Stills. Stills will have the distinction of being a founding member of two of Laurel Canyon's most acclaimed and beloved bands: Buffalo Springfield, and, needless to say, Crosby, Stills & Nash. In addition, Stills will pen perhaps the first, and certainly one of the most enduring anthems of the sixties generation, For What It's Worth, the opening lines of which appear at the top of this chapter (Stills' follow-up single will be entitled Bluebird, which, coincidentally or not, happens to be the original codename assigned to the CIA's MK-ULTRA program).

Before his arrival in Laurel Canyon, Stephen Stills was the product of yet another career military family. Raised partly in Texas, young Stephen spent large swaths of his childhood in El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal Zone, and various other parts of Central America-alongside his father, who was, we can be fairly certain, helping to spread 'democracy' to the unwashed masses in that endearingly American way. As with the rest of our cast of characters, Stills was educated primarily at schools on military bases and at elite military academies. Among his contemporaries in Laurel Canyon, he was widely viewed as having an abrasive, authoritarian personality. Nothing unusual about any of that, of course, as we have already seen.

There is, however, an even more curious aspect to the Stephen Stills story: Stephen will later tell anyone who will sit and listen that he had served time for Uncle Sam in the jungles of Vietnam. These tales will be universally dismissed by chroniclers of the era as nothing more than drug-induced delusions. Such a thing couldn't possibly be true, it will be claimed, since Stills arrived on the Laurel Canyon scene at the very time that the first uniformed troops began shipping out and he remained in the public eye thereafter. And it will of course be quite true that Stephen Stills could not have served with uniformed ground troops in Vietnam, but what will be ignored is the undeniable fact that the us had thousands of 'advisers' -which is to say, CIA/Special Forces operatives- active in the country for a good many years before the arrival of the first official ground troops. What will also be ignored is that, given his background, his age, and the timeline of events, Stephen Stills not only could indeed have seen action in Vietnam, he would seem to have been a prime candidate for such an assignment. After which, of course, he could rather quickly become-stop me if you've heard this one before- an icon of the peace generation.

Another of those icons, and one of Laurel Canyon's most flamboyant residents, is a young man by the name of David Crosby, founding member of the seminal Laurel Canyon band the Byrds, as well as, of course, Crosby, Stills & Nash. Crosby is, not surprisingly, the son of an Annapolis graduate and WWII military intelligence officer, Major Floyd Delafield Crosby. Like others in this story, Floyd Crosby spent much of his postservice time traveling the world. Those travels landed him in places like Haiti, where he paid a visit in 1927, when the country just happened to be, coincidentally of course, under military occupation by the us Marines. One of the Marines doing that occupying was a guy that we met earlier by the name of Captain Claude Andrew Phillips.

But David Crosby is much more than just the son of Major Floyd Delafield Crosby. David Van Cortlandt Crosby, as it turns out, is a scion of the closely intertwined van Cortlandt, van Schuyler and van Rensselaer families. And while you're probably thinking, "the Van Who families?," I can assure you that if you plug those names in over at Wikipedia, you can spend a pretty fair amount of time reading up on the power wielded by this clan for the last, oh, two-and-a-quarter centuries or so. Suffice it to say that the Crosby family tree includes a truly dizzying array of US senators and congressmen, state senators and assemblymen, governors, mayors, judges, Supreme Court justices, Revolutionary and Civil War generals, signers of the Declaration of Independence, and members of the Continental Congress. It also includes, I should hasten to add-for those of you with a taste for such things-more than a few high-ranking Masons. Stephen van Rensselaer III, for example, reportedly served as Grand Master of Masons for New York. And if all that isn't impressive enough, according to the New England Genealogical Society, David Van Cortlandt Crosby is also a direct descendant of Founding Fathers and Federalist Papers authors Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.

If there is, as many believe, a network of elite families that has shaped national and world events for a very long time, then it is probably safe to say that David Crosby is a bloodline member of that clan (which may explain, come to think of it, why his semen seems to be in such demand in certain circles-because, if we're being honest here, it certainly can't be due to his looks or talent). If America had royalty, then David Crosby would probably be a Duke, or a Prince, or something similar. But other than that, he is just a normal, run-of-the-mill kind of guy who just happened to shine as one of Laurel Canyon's brightest stars. And who, I guess I should add, has a real fondness for guns, especially handguns, which he has maintained a sizable collection of for his entire life. According to those closest to him, it is a rare occasion when Mr. Crosby is not packing heat (John Phillips also owned and sometimes carried handguns). And according to Crosby himself, he has, on at least one occasion, discharged a firearm in anger at another human being. All of which made him, of course, an obvious choice for the Flower Children to rally around.

Another shining star on the Laurel Canyon scene, just a few years later, will be singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, who is-are you getting as bored with this as I am?-the product of a career military family. Browne's father was assigned to postwar reconstruction work in Germany, which very likely means that he was in the employ of the 055, precursor to the CIA. As readers of my earlier work, Understanding the F-Word, may recall, US involvement in postwar reconstruction in Germany largely consisted of maintaining as much of the Nazi infrastructure as possible while shielding war criminals from capture and prosecution. Against that backdrop, Jackson Browne was born in a military hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. Some two decades later, he emerged as... oh, never mind.

Let's talk instead about three other Laurel Canyon vocalists who will rise to dizzying heights of fame and fortune: Gerry Beckley, Dan Peek and Dewey Bunnell. Individually, these three names are probably unknown to virtually all readers, but collectively, as the band America, the three will score huge hits in the early seventies with such songs as Ventura Highway, A Horse With No Name, and the Wizard of Oz-themed The Tin Man. I guess I probably don't need to add here that all three of these lads were products of the military/intelligence community. Beckley's dad was the commander of the now-defunct West Ruislip USAF base near London, England, a facility deeply immersed in intelligence operations. Bunnell's and Peek's fathers were both career Air Force officers serving under Beckley's dad at West Ruislip, which is where the three boys first met.

We could also, I suppose, discuss Mike Nesmith of the Monkees and Cory Wells of Three Dog Night (two more hugely successful Laurel Canyon bands), who both arrived in LA not long after serving time with the US Air Force. Nesmith also inherited a family fortune estimated at $25 million. Gram Parsons, who will briefly replace David Crosby in the Byrds before fronting the Flying Burrito Brothers, was the son of Major Cecil Ingram "Coon Dog" Connor II, a decorated military officer and bomber pilot who reportedly flew over fifty combat missions. Parsons was also an heir, on his mother's side, to the formidable Snively family fortune. Said to be the wealthiest family in the exclusive enclave of Winter Haven, Florida, the Snively family was the proud owner of Snively Groves, Inc., which reportedly owned as much as one-third of all the citrus groves in the state of Florida.

And so it goes as one scrolls through the roster of Laurel Canyon superstars. What one finds, far more often than not, are the sons and daughters of the military/intelligence complex and the sons and daughters of extreme wealth and privilege-oftentimes, you'll find both rolled into one convenient package. Every once in a while, you will also stumble across a former child actor, like Brandon DeWilde, or Monkee Mickey Dolenz, or eccentric prodigy Van Dyke Parks. You might also encounter some former mental patients, such as James Taylor, who spent time in two different mental institutions in Massachusetts before hitting the Laurel Canyon scene, or Larry "Wild Man" Fischer, who was institutionalized repeatedly during his teen years, once for attacking his mother with a knife (an act that was gleefully mocked by lappa on the cover of Fischer's first album). Finally, you might find the offspring of an organized crime figure, like Warren Zevon, the son of William "Stumpy" levon, a lieutenant for infamous LA crimelord Mickey Cohen.

All these folks gathered nearly simultaneously along the narrow, winding roads of Laurel Canyon. They came from across the country -- although the Washington, DC area was noticeably over-represented -- as well as from Canada and England, and, in at least one case, all the way from Nazi Germany. They came even though, at the time, there was no music industry in Los Angeles. They came even though, at the time, there was no live music scene to speak of. They came even though, in retrospect, there was no discernible reason for them to do so.

It would, of course, make sense these days for an aspiring musician to venture out to Los Angeles. But in those days, the centers of the music universe were Nashville, Memphis and New York. It wasn't the industry that drew the Laurel Canyon crowd, you see, but rather the Laurel Canyon crowd that transformed Los Angeles into the epicenter of the music industry. To what then do we attribute this unprecedented gathering of future musical superstars in the hills above Los Angeles? What was it that inspired them all to head out west? Perhaps Neil Young said it best when he told an interviewer that he couldn't really say why he headed out to LA circa 1966; he and others "were just going like Lemmings."
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:01 am

2. POWER TO THE PEOPLE CALL THIS A COUNTERCULTURE?

"Everyone there had at one time or another been into Satanism, or, like myself, had dabbled around the edges for sexual kicks."

-- Sammy Davis, Jr., referring to the victims at 10050 Cielo Drive


IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER, WE MET A SAMPLING OF SOME OF THE MOST successful and influential rock music superstars who emerged from Laurel Canyon during its glory days. But these were, alas, more than just musicians and singers and songwriters who had come together in the canyon; they were destined to become the spokesmen and de facto leaders of a generation of disaffected youth (as Carl Gottlieb noted in David Crosby's co-written autobiography, "the unprecedented mass appeal of the new rock'n'roll gave the singers a voice in public affairs"). That, of course, makes it all the more curious that these icons were, to an overwhelming degree, the sons and daughters of the military/ intelligence complex and the scions of families that have wielded vast wealth and power in this country for a very long time.

It could of course be argued that there was nothing necessarily nefarious in the fact that so many of these icons of a past generation hailed from military/intelligence families. Perhaps, it could be suggested, they had embarked on their chosen careers as a form of rebellion against the values of their parents. And that, I suppose, might be true in a couple of cases. But what are we to conclude from the fact that such an astonishing number of these folks (along with their girlfriends, wives, managers, etc.) hail from a similar background? Are we to believe that the only kids from that era who had musical talent were the sons and daughters of Navy admirals, chemical warfare engineers and Air Force intelligence officers? Or are they just the only ones who were signed to lucrative contracts and relentlessly promoted by their labels and the media?

If these artists were rebelling against, rather than subtly promoting, the values of their parents, then why didn't they ever speak out against the people they were allegedly rebelling against? Why did Jim Morrison never denounce, or even mention, his father's key role in escalating one of America's bloodiest illegal wars? And why did Frank Zappa never pen a song exploring the horrors of chemical warfare (though he did pen a charming little ditty entitled Ritual Dance Of The Child-Killer)? And which Mamas and the Papas song was it that laid waste to the values and actions of John Phillips' parents and in-laws? And in which interview, exactly, did David Crosby and Stephen Stills disown the family values that they were raised with?

We will be taking a much closer look at these performers, as well as at many of their contemporaries, as we endeavor to determine how and why the youth 'counterculture' of the 1960s was given birth. According to virtually all the accounts that I have read, this was essentially a spontaneous, organic response to the war in Southeast Asia and to the prevailing social conditions of the time. 'Conspiracy theorists,' of course, have frequently opined that what began as a legitimate movement was at some point co-opted and undermined by intelligence operations such as CointelPro. Entire books, for example, have been written examining how presumably virtuous musical artists were subjected to FBI harassment and/or whacked by the CIA.

Here we will, as you may have already ascertained, take a decidedly different approach. The question that we will be tackling is a more deeply troubling one: "what if the musicians themselves (and various other leaders and founders of the 'movement') were every bit as much a part of the intelligence community as the people who were supposedly harassing them?" What if, in other words, the entire youth culture of the 1960s was created not as a grass-roots challenge to the status quo, but as a cynical exercise in discrediting and marginalizing the budding anti-war movement and creating a fake opposition that could be easily controlled and led astray? And what if the harassment these folks were subjected to was largely a stage-managed show designed to give the leaders of the counterculture some much-needed 'street cred'? What if, in reality, they were pretty much all playing on the same team?

I should probably mention here that, contrary to popular opinion, the hippie/flower child movement was not synonymous with the antiwar movement. As time passed, there was, to be sure, a fair amount of overlap between the two 'movements.' And the mass media outlets, as is their wont, did their very best to portray the flower-power generation as the torch-bearers of the anti-war movement-after all, a ragtag band of unwashed, drug-fueled long-hairs sporting flowers and peace symbols was far easier to marginalize than, say, a bunch of respected college professors and their concerned students. The reality, however, is that the anti-war movement was already well underway before the first aspiring 'hippie' arrived in Laurel Canyon. The first Vietnam War 'teach-in' was held on the campus of the University of Michigan in March of 1965. The first organized walk on Washington occurred just a few weeks later. Needless to say, there were no hippies in attendance at either event. That 'problem' would soon be rectified. And the antiwar crowd-those who were serious about ending the bloodshed in Vietnam, anyway-would be none too appreciative.

As Barry Miles has written in his coffee-table book, Hippie, there were some hippies involved in anti-war protests, "particularly after the police riot in Chicago in 1968 when so many people got injured, but on the whole the movement activists looked on hippies with disdain." Peter Coyote, narrating the documentary Hippies on the History Channel, added that, "Some on the left even theorized that the hippies were the end result of a plot by the CIA to neutralize the anti-war movement with LSD, turning potential protestors into self-absorbed naval-gazers." An exasperated Abbie Hoffman once described the scene as he remembered it thusly: "There were all these activists, you know, Berkeley radicals, White Panthers ... all trying to stop the war and change things for the better. Then we got flooded with all these 'flower children' who were into drugs and sex. Where the hell did the hippies come from?!"

As it turns out, they came, initially at least, from a rather private, isolated, largely self-contained neighborhood in Los Angeles known as Laurel Canyon. In contrast to the other canyons slicing through the Hollywood Hills, Laurel Canyon has its own market, the semi-famous Laurel Canyon Country Store; its own deli and cleaners; its own elementary school, the Wonderland School; its own boutique shops and salons; and, in more recent years, its own celebrity rehab facility named, as you may have guessed, the Wonderland Center. During its heyday, the canyon even had its own management company, Lookout Management, to handle the talent. At one time, it even had its own newspaper.

One other thing that I should add here is that this has not been an easy line of research for me to conduct, primarily because I have been, for as long as I can remember, a huge fan of 1960s music and culture. Though I didn't come of age, so to speak, until the 1970s, I have always felt as though I was cheated by being denied the opportunity to experience firsthand the era that I was so obviously meant to inhabit. During my high school and college years, while my peers were mostly into faceless corporate rock (think Journey, Foreigner, Kansas, Boston, etc.) and, perhaps worse yet, the twin horrors of new wave and disco music, I was faithfully spinning my Hendrix, Joplin and Doors albums (which I still have, in the original vinyl versions) while my color organ (remember those?) competed with my black light and strobe light. I grew my hair long until well past the age when it should have been sheared off. I may have even strung beads across the doorway to my room ... but it is possible that I am confusing my life with that of Greg Brady, who, as we all remember, once converted his dad's home office into a groovy bachelor pad.

Anyway, one of the most difficult aspects of this journey that I have been on for the last fifteen years or so has been watching so many of my former idols and mentors fall by the wayside as it became increasingly clear to me that people who I once thought were the good guys were, in reality, something entirely different. The first to fall, naturally enough, were the establishment figures-the politicians who I once, quite foolishly, looked up to as people who were fighting the good fight, within the confines of the system, to bring about real change. Though it now pains me to admit this, there was a time when I admired the likes of (egads!) George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, as well as California pols Tom Hayden and Jerry Brown. I even had high hopes, oh-so-many-years- ago, for (am I really admitting this in print?) Bill Clinton.

Since I mentioned Jerry "Governor Moonbeam" Brown, by the way, I must now digress just a bit. As luck would have it, Jerry Brown was, curiously enough, a longtime resident of a little place called Laurel Canyon. As readers of my previous work, Programmed to Kill, may recall, Brown lived on Wonderland Avenue, not too many doors down from 8763 Wonderland Avenue, the site of the infamous "Four on the Floor" murders, regarded by grizzled LA homicide detectives as the most bloody and brutal multiple murder in the city's very bloody history.

As it turns out, the most bloody mass murder in LA's history took place in one of the city's most serene, pastoral and exclusive neighborhoods. And strangely enough, the case usually cited as the runner-up for the title of bloodiest crime scene-the murders of Stephen Parent, Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski and Abigail Folger at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, just a couple miles to the west of Laurel Canyon-had deep ties to the Laurel Canyon scene as well.

As previously mentioned, victims Folger and Frykowski lived in Laurel Canyon, at 2774 Woodstock Road, in a rented home right across the road from a favored gathering spot for Laurel Canyon royalty. Many of the regular visitors to Cass Elliot's home, including a number of shady drug dealers, were also regular visitors to the Folger/Frykowski home. (Frykowski's son, by the way, was stabbed to death on June 6, 1999, thirty years after his father met the same fate.) Victim Jay Sebring's acclaimed hair salon sat right at the mouth of Laurel Canyon, just below the Sunset Strip, and it was Sebring, alas, who was credited with sculpting Jim Morrison's famous mane. One of the investors in his Sebring International business venture was none other than Mr. John Phillips.

Sharon Tate was also well known in Laurel Canyon, where she was a frequent visitor to the homes of friends like John Phillips, Cass Elliot, and Abigail Folger. And when she wasn't in Laurel Canyon, many of the canyon regulars, both famous and infamous, made themselves at home at her place on Cielo Drive. Canyonite Van Dyke Parks, for example, dropped by for a visit on the very day of the murders. And Denny Doherty, the other "Papa" in the Mamas and the Papas, has claimed that he and John Phillips were invited to the Cielo Drive home on the night of the murders, but, as luck would have it, they never made it over. (Similarly, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, a regular visitor to the Wonderland death house, had set up a drug buy on the night of that mass murder, but he fell asleep and never made it over.)

Along with the victims, the alleged killers also lived in and/or were very much a part of the Laurel Canyon scene. Bobby "Cupid" Beausoleil, for example, lived in a Laurel Canyon apartment during the early months of 1969. Charles "Tex" Watson, who allegedly led the death squad responsible for the carnage at Cielo Drive, lived for a time in a home on-guess where?-Wonderland Avenue. During that time, curiously enough, Watson co-owned and worked in a wig shop in Beverly Hills, Crown Wig Creations, Ltd., that was located near the mouth of Benedict Canyon. Meanwhile, one of Jay Sebring's primary c1aims-to-fame was his expertise in crafting men's hairpieces, which he did in his shop near the mouth of Laurel Canyon. A typical day then in the late 1960s would find Watson crafting hairpieces for an upscale Hollywood clientele near Benedict Canyon, and then returning home to Laurel Canyon, while Sebring crafted hairpieces for an upscale Hollywood clientele near Laurel Canyon, and then returned home to Benedict Canyon. And then one crazy day, as we all know, one of them became a killer and the other his victim. But there's nothing odd about that, I suppose, so let's move on.

Oh, wait a minute ... we can't quite move on just yet, as I forgot to mention that Sebring's Benedict Canyon home, at 9820 Easton Drive, was a rather infamous Hollywood death house that had once belonged to Jean Harlow and Paul Bern. The mismatched pair were wed on July 2, 1932, when Harlow, already a huge star of the silver screen, was just twenty-one years old. Just two months later, on September 5, Bern caught a bullet to the head in his wife's bedroom. He was found sprawled naked in a pool of his own blood, his corpse drenched with his wife's perfume. Upon discovering the body, Bern's butler promptly contacted MGM's head of security, Whitey Hendry, who in turn contacted Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg. All three men descended upon the Benedict Canyon home to, you know, tidy up a bit. A couple hours later, they decided to contact the LAPD. This scene would be repeated years later when Sebring's friends would rush to the very same home to clean up before officers investigating the Tate murders arrived.

Bern's death was, as is so often the case, written off as a suicide. His newlywed wife, strangely enough, was never called as a witness at the inquest. Bern's other wife-which is to say, his common-law wife, Dorothy Millette-reportedly boarded a Sacramento riverboat on September 6, 1932, the day after Paul's death. She was next seen floating belly up in the Sacramento River. Her death, as would be expected, was also ruled a suicide. Less than five years later, Harlow herself dropped dead at the ripe old age of twenty-six. At the time, authorities opted not to divulge the cause of death, though it was later claimed that bad kidneys had done her in. During her brief stay on this planet, Harlow had cycled through three turbulent marriages and yet still found time to serve as godmother to Bugsy Siegel's daughter, Millicent.

Though Bern's was the most famous body to be hauled out of the Easton Drive house in a coroner's bag, it certainly wasn't the only one. Another man had reportedly committed suicide there as well, in some unspecified fashion. Yet another unfortunate soul drowned in the home's pool. And a maid was once found swinging from the end of a rope. Her death, needless to say, was ruled a suicide as well. That's a lot of blood for one home to absorb, but the house's morbid history, though a turn-off to many prospective residents, was reportedly exactly what attracted Jay Sebring to the property. His murder would further darken the black cloud hanging over the home.

As Laurel Canyon chronicler Michael Walker has noted, LA's two most notorious mass murders, one in August of 1969 and the other in July of 1981 (both involving five victims, though at Wonderland one of the five miraculously survived), provided rather morbid bookends for Laurel Canyon's glory years. Walker though, like others who have chronicled that time and place, treats these brutal crimes as though they were unfortunate aberrations. The reality, however, is that the nine bodies recovered from Cielo Drive and Wonderland Avenue constitute just the tip of a very large, and very bloody, iceberg.

To partially illustrate that point: Diane Linkletter (daughter of famed entertainer Art Linkletter), legendary comedian Lenny Bruce, screen idol Sal Mineo, starlet Inger Stevens, and silent film star Ramon Novarro, all have something in common-all were found dead in their homes, either in or at the mouth of Laurel Canyon, in the decade between 1966 and 1976. And all five were, in all likelihood, murdered in those Laurel Canyon homes.

Only two of them are officially listed as murder victims (Mineo, who was stabbed to death outside his home at 8563 Holloway Drive on February 12, 1976, and Novarro, who was killed near the Country Store in a decidedly ritualistic fashion on the eve of Halloween, 1968). Inger Stevens' death in her home at 8000 Woodrow Wilson Drive, on April 30, 1970 (Walpurgisnacht on the occult calendar), was officially a suicide, though why she opted to propel herself through a decorative glass screen as part of that suicide remains a mystery. Perhaps she just wanted to leave behind a gruesome crime scene, and simple overdoses can be so, you know, bloodless and boring.

Diane Linkletter, according to legend, sailed out the window of her Shoreham Towers apartment because, in her LSD-addled state, she thought she could fly. We know this because Art himself told us that it was so, and because the story was retold throughout the 1970s as a cautionary tale about the dangers of drugs. What we weren't told, however, is that Diane (born, curiously enough, on Halloween day, 1948) wasn't alone when she plunged six stories to her death on the morning of October 4, 1969. Au contraire, she was with a gent by the name of Edward Durston, who, in a completely unexpected turn of events, accompanied actress Carol Wayne to Mexico some fifteen years later. Carol, alas, perhaps weighed down by her enormous breasts, managed to drown in barely a foot of water, while Mr. Durston promptly disappeared. As would be expected, he was never questioned by authorities about Wayne's curious death. After all, it is quite common for the same guy to be the sole witness to two separate 'accidental' deaths.

Art also neglected to mention that just weeks before Diane's curious death, another member of the Linkletter clan, Art's son-in-law, John Zwyer, caught a bullet to the head in the backyard of his Hollywood Hills home. But that, of course, was an 'unconnected' suicide.

I'm not even going to discuss here the circumstances of Lenny Bruce's death from acute morphine poisoning on August 3, 1966, because, to be perfectly honest, I don't know too many people who don't already assume that Lenny was whacked. I'll just note here that his funeral was well-attended by the Laurel Canyon rock icons, and control over his unreleased material fell into the hands of a guy by the name of Frank Zappa. And another unsavory character named Phil Spector, whose crack team of studio musicians, dubbed the Wrecking Crew, were the actual musicians playing on many studio recordings by such Laurel Canyon bands as the Monkees, the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Mamas and the Papas.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:04 am

3. DIG! THE LAUREL CANYON DEATH LIST

"I mean, fuck, he auditioned for Neil [Young] for fuck's sake." Graham Nash, explaining to author Michael Walker how close Charles Manson was to the Laurel Canyon scene


DURING THE TEN-YEAR PERIOD DURING WHICH LENNY BRUCE, RAMON Novarro, Sal Mineo, Diane linkletter, Inger Stevens, Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski and Abigail Folger all turned up dead, numerous other people connected to Laurel Canyon did as well, often under very questionable circumstances. The list includes, but is certainly not limited to, all of the following names:

• Marina Elizabeth Habe, whose body was carved up and tossed into the heavy brush along Mulholland Drive, just west of Bowmont Drive, on December 3D, 1968. Habe, just seventeen at the time of her death, was the daughter of Hans Habe, who emigrated to the US from fascist Austria circa 1940. Shortly thereafter, Hans married a General Foods heiress and began studying psychological warfare at the Military Intelligence Training Center. After completing his training, he put his psychological warfare skills to use by creating eighteen newspapers in occupied Germany-under the direction, no doubt, of the OSS.

• Christine Hinton, who was killed in a head-on collision on September 30, 1969. At the time, Hinton was a girlfriend of David Crosby and the founder and head of the Byrds' fan club. She was also the daughter of a career Army officer stationed at the notorious Presidio military base in San Francisco. Another of Crosby's girlfriends from that same era was Shelley Roecker, who grew up on the Hamilton Air Force Base in Marin County.

• Jane Doe #59, found dumped into the heavy undergrowth of Laurel Canyon in November 1969, within sight of where Habe had been dumped less than a year earlier. The teenage girl, who was never identified, had been stabbed 157 times in the chest and throat.

• Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, singer, songwriter and guitarist for the Laurel Canyon blues-rock band, Canned Heat, was found dead in his Topanga Canyon home on September 3,1970. His death was written off as a suicide/OD. Wilson had moved to Topanga Canyon after the band's Laurel Canyon home-on Lookout Mountain Avenue, next door to Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash's home-burned to the ground. "Blind Owl" was just twenty-seven years old at the time of his death. A little more than a decade later, Wilson's former band mate, Bob "The Bear" Hite, who had once acknowledged in an interview that he had partied in the canyons with various members of the Manson Family, died of a heart attack at the ripe old age of thirty-six.

• Jimi Hendrix, who reportedly briefly occupied the sprawling mansion just north of the Log Cabin after he moved to LA in 1968, died in London under seriously questionable circumstances on September 18, 1970. Though he rarely spoke of it, Jimi had served a stint in the US Army with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell. His official records indicate that he was forced into the service by the courts and then released after just one year when he purportedly proved to be a poor soldier. One wonders though why he was assigned to such an elite division if he was indeed such a failure. One also wonders why he wasn't subjected to disciplinary measures rather than being handed a free pass out of his ostensibly court-ordered service. In any event, Jimi himself once told reporters that he was given a medical discharge after breaking an ankle during a parachute jump. One biographer has claimed that Jimi faked being gay to earn an early release. The truth, alas, remains rather elusive. At the time of Jimi's death, the first person called by his girlfriend- Monika Danneman, last to see Hendrix alive-was Eric Burden of the Animals. Two years earlier, Burden had relocated to LA and taken over ringmaster duties from Frank Zappa after Zappa had vacated the Log Cabin and moved into a less high-profile Laurel Canyon home. Within a year of Jimi's death, a reported prostitute-turned-groupie named Devon Wilson, who had been with Jimi the day before his death, plunged from an eighth-floor window of New York's Chelsea Hotel. On March 5, 1973, a shadowy character named Michael Jeffery, who had managed both Hendrix and Burden, was killed in a midair plane collision. Jeffery was known to openly boast of having organized crime connections and of working for the CIA. After Jimi's death, it was discovered that Jeffery had been funneling most of Hendrix's gross earnings into offshore accounts in the Bahamas linked to international drug trafficking. Years later, on April 5, 1996, Danneman, the daughter of a wealthy German industrialist, was found dead near her home in a fume-filled Mercedes.

• Jim Morrison, who for a time lived in a home on Rothdell Trail, behind the Laurel Canyon Country Store, mayor may not have died in Paris on July 3, 1971. The events of that day remain shrouded in mystery and rumor, and the details of the story, such as they are, have changed over the years. What is known is that, on that very same day, Admiral George Stephen Morrison delivered the keynote speech at a decommissioning ceremony for the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard, from where, seven years earlier, he had helped choreograph the Tonkin Gulf Incident. A few years after Jim's death, his common-law wife, Pamela Courson, dropped dead as well, officially of a heroin overdose. Like Hendrix, Morrison had been an avid student of the occult, with a particular fondness for the work of Aleister Crowley. According to super-groupie Pamela Des Barres, he had also "read all he could about incest and sadism." Also like Hendrix (and Wilson), Morrison was just twenty-seven at the time of his (possible) death.

• Brandon DeWilde, a good friend of David Crosby and Gram Parsons, was killed in a freak accident in Colorado on July 6, 1972, when his van plowed under a flatbed truck. In the 1950s, DeWilde had been an in-demand child actor since the age of eight. He had appeared onscreen with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Alan Ladd, Lee Marvin, Paul Newman, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda. Around 1965, DeWilde fell in with Hollywood's 'Young Turks,' through whom he met and befriended Crosby, Parsons, and various other members of the Laurel Canyon Club. DeWilde was just thirty at the time of his death.

• Christine Frka, a former governess for Moon Unit Zappa and the Zappa family's former housekeeper at the Log Cabin, died on November 5, 1972, of an alleged drug overdose, though friends suspected foul play. As "Miss Christine," Frka had been a member of the Zappa-created GTOs, a musical act, of sorts, composed entirely of very young groupies. She was also the inspiration for the song, Christine's Tune: Devil In Disguise by Gram Parsons' Flying Burrito Brothers. Frka may have been in her early twenties when she died, possibly even younger.

• Danny Whitten, a guitarist/vocalist/songwriter with Neil Young's sometime band, Crazy Horse, died of an overdose on November 18, 1972. According to rock'n'roll legend, Whitten had been fired by Young earlier that day during rehearsals in San Francisco. Young and Jack Nitzsche, Phil Spector's former top assistant, had given Whitten $50 and put him on a plane back to LA. Within hours, he was dead. Whitten was just twenty-nine.

• Bruce Berry, a roadie for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, died of a heroin overdose in June 1973. Berry had just flown out to Maui to deliver a shipment of cocaine to Stephen Stills, and was promptly sent back to LA by Crosby and Nash. Berry was a brother of Jan Berry, of Jan and Dean. (Dean Torrence, the "Dean" of Jan and Dean, had played a part in the fake kidnapping of Frank Sinatra, Jr., just a couple weeks after the JFK assassination. The staged event was a particularly transparent effort to divert attention away from the questions that were cropping up, after the initial shock had passed, about the events in Dealey Plaza.)

• Clarence White, a guitarist who had played with the Byrds, was run over by a drunk driver and killed on July 14, 1973. White had grown up near Lancaster, not far from where Frank Zappa spent his teen years. At least one member of White's immediate family was employed at Edwards Air Force Base. The driver who killed young Clarence, just twentynine years old at the time of his death, was given a one-year suspended sentence and served no time.

• Gram Parsons, formerly with the International Submarine Band, the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, allegedly overdosed on a speedball at the Joshua Tree Inn on September 19, 1973. Just two months before his death, Parsons' Topanga Canyon home had burnt to the ground. After his death, his body was stolen from LAX by the Burrito's road manager, Phil Kaufman, and then taken back out to Joshua Tree and ritually burned on the autumnal equinox. Kaufman had been a prison buddy of Charlie Manson's at Terminal Island; when Phil was released from Terminal Island in March of 1968, he quickly reunited with his old pal, who had been released a year earlier. By the time of Gram's death, his family had already experienced its share of questionable deaths. Just before Christmas 1958, Parsons' father had sent Gram, along with his mother and sister, off to stay with family in Florida. The next day, just after the winter solstice, Ingram Cecil Connor, Jr. caught a bullet to the head. His death was recorded as a suicide and it was claimed that he had sent his family away to spare them as much pain as possible. It seems just as likely, however, that Cecil knew his days were numbered and wanted to get his family out ofthe line of fire. The next year, 1959, Gram's mother married again, to Robert Ellis Parsons, who adopted Gram and his sister Avis. Six years later, in June of 1965, Gram's mother died the day after a sudden illness landed her in the hospital. According to witnesses, she died "almost immediately" after a visit from her husband, Robert Parsons. Many of those close to the situation believed that Parsons had a hand in her death (very shortly thereafter, Robert Parsons married his stepdaughter's teenage babysitter). Following his mother's death, Parsons briefly attended Harvard University and then launched his music career with the formation of the International Submarine Band, which quickly found its way to-where else?-Laurel Canyon. Gram's death in 1973 at the age of twenty-six left his younger sister Avis as the sole surviving member of the family. She was killed in 1993, reportedly in a boating accident, at the age of forty.

• "Mama" Cass Elliot, the Earth Mother of Laurel Canyon whose circle of friends included musicians, Mansonites, young Hollywood stars, the wealthy son of a State Department official, singer/songwriters, assorted drug dealers, and some particularly unsavory characters the LAPD once described as "some kind of hit squad," died in the London home of Harry Nilsson on July 29, 1974. (Nilsson had been a frequent drinking buddy of John Lennon in Laurel Canyon and on the Sunset Strip.) At thirty-two, Cass had lived a long and productive life, by Laurel Canyon standards. Four years later, in the very same room of the very same London flat, still owned by Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon of the Who also died at age thirty-two, on September 7, 1978. Though initial press reports held that Cass had choked to death on a ham sandwich, the official verdict was heart failure. Her actual cause of death could likely be filed under "knowing where too many of the bodies were buried./I Moon reportedly died from a massive overdose of a drug used to treat alcohol withdrawal.

• Amy Gossage, Graham Nash's girlfriend, was murdered in her San Francisco home on February 13, 1975. Just twenty years old at the time, she had been stabbed nearly fifty times and was bludgeoned beyond recognition. Amy's father, a famed advertising/PR executive, had died of leukemia in 1969. Not long after, her half-sister had been killed in a car crash. In May of 1974, her mother, the daughter of a wealthy banking family, died as well, reportedly of cirrhosis of the liver. That left just Amy, age nineteen, and her brother Eben, age twenty, both of whom reportedly had serious drug dependencies. Amy's brutal murder, cleverly enough, was pinned on Eben. Police had conveniently found bloodstained clothes, along with a hammer and scissors, sitting on the porch of Eben's apartment, looking very much as though it had been planted. A friend of Eben's would later remark, perhaps quite tellingly, "If Eben did kill her, I'm convinced he doesn't know he did it."

• Tim Buckley, a singer/songwriter signed to Frank Zappa's record label and managed by Herb Cohen, died of a reported overdose on June 29, 1975. Buckley had once appeared on an episode of The Monkees, and, like Monkee Peter Tork (and so many others in this story), he hailed from Washington, DC. He was the son of a mentally unbalanced and occasionally violent WWII hero. Buckley was just twenty-eight at the time of his death, which reportedly shocked many of his friends and relatives. Despite having released nine albums during his short life, Buckley died in debt, which probably had nothing to do with his management by Cohen. His son, Jeff Buckley, also an accomplished musician, managed to remain on this planet two years longer than his dad did; he was thirty when he died in a bizarre drowning incident on May 29, 1997.

• Phyllis Major Browne, wife of singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, reportedly overdosed on barbiturates on March 25, 1976. Her death was-you all should know the words to this song by now-ruled a suicide. She was just thirty years old.

There are a few other curious deaths we could add here as well, though they were more indirectly related to the Laurel Canyon scene. Nevertheless, they deserve an honorable mention:

• Bobby Fuller, singer/songwriter/guitarist for the Bobby Fuller Four, was found dead in his car near Grauman's Chinese Theater on July 18, 1966, after being lured away from his home by a mysterious 2:00- 3:00 AM phone call of unknown origin. Fuller is best known for penning the hit song I Fought the Law, which had just hit the charts when he supposedly committed suicide at the age of twenty-three. There were multiple cuts and bruises on his face, chest and shoulders, dried blood around his mouth, and a hairline fracture to his right hand. He had been thoroughly doused with gasoline, including in his mouth and throat. The inside of the car was doused as well, and an open book of matches lay on the seat. It was perfectly obvious that Fuller's killer (or killers) had planned to torch the car, destroying all evidence, but likely got scared away. The LAPD, nevertheless, ruled Fuller's death a suicide-despite the coroner's conclusion that the gas had been poured after Bobby's death. Police later decided that it wasn't a suicide after all, but rather an accident. They didn't bother to explain how Fuller had accidentally doused himself with gasoline after accidentally killing himself. At the time of his death, one of Fuller's closest confidants was a prostitute named Melody who worked at PJ's nightclub, where Bobby frequently played. The club was co-owned by Eddie Nash, who would, many years later, orchestrate the Wonderland massacre. A few years after Bobby's death, his brother and bass player, Randy Fuller, teamed up with drummer Dewey Martin, formerly of Buffalo Springfield.

• Gary Hinman, a musician, music teacher, and part-time chemist, was brutally murdered in his Topanga Canyon home on July 27, 1969. Convicted of his murder was Mansonite Bobby Beausoleil, who had played rhythm guitar in a Laurel Canyon band known as the Grass Roots, which later achieved a fair amount of fame under the name Love.

• Janis Joplin, vocalist extraordinaire, was found dead of a heroin overdose on October 4, 1970, at the Landmark Hotel, about a mile east of the mouth of Laurel Canyon, where she occasionally visited. Indications were that she had taken or been given a "hot shot," many times stronger than standard street heroin. Joplin's father, by the way, was a petroleum engineer for Texaco. And though it might normally seem an odd coupling, it somehow seems perfectly natural, in the context of this story, that Janis once dated that great crusader in the war on all things immoral, William Bennett. Like Morrison, Hendrix and Wilson, Joplin died at the age of twenty-seven.

• Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, lead guitarist and bass player for the Allman Brothers, were killed in freakishly similar motorcycle crashes on October 29, 1971, and November 11, 1972, respectively. Allman was the son of Willis Allman, a US Army Sergeant who had been murdered by another soldier near Norfolk, Virginia (home of the world's largest naval installation) on December 26, 1949. In 1967, Duane and his younger brother, Gregg, then billing themselves as the Allman Joys, ventured out to Los Angeles. While there, Gregg auditioned for and was almost signed by the Laurel Canyon band Poco, which featured Buffalo Springfield alumni Richie Furay and Jim Messina, as well as future Eagle Randy Meisner. Duane was killed when a truck turned in front of his motorcycle at an intersection and inexplicably stopped. Just over a year later, Oakley had a similar run-in with a bus, just three blocks from where Allman had been killed. Following the crash, Berry had dusted himself off and declined medical attention, insisting that he was okay. Three hours later, he was rushed to the hospital where he died. Both Oakley and Allman were just twenty-four years old.

• Gary Thain, bassist for the band Uriah Heep-yet another group with a keen interest in magick and the occult, with album titles such as Demons and Wizards and Magician's Birthday-was found dead on December 8, 1975, five years to the day before Nilsson sidekick John Lennon would be gunned down at the Dakota Apartments in New York City. Thain had once played with sometime Canyonite Jimi Hendrix and his first live appearance with Uriah Heep was at the Whisky-a-Go-Go on February 1, 1972. His death was, alas, attributed to a drug overdose. Thain is yet another member of the 'Twenty-Seven Club.'

• Tommy Bolin, best known as a guitarist for the band Deep Purple, was also found dead of a reported drug overdose almost exactly one year later, on December 4, 1976, though varying stories have surfaced concerning the circumstances of his death. Bolin had previously played for the James Gang, in the position once filled by Joe Walsh, who by the time of Bolin's death had become a member of Laurel Canyon's most commercially successful band, the Eagles. Bolin died a couple years shy of making the Twenty-Seven Club.

It wasn't only the musicians with ties to Laurel Canyon who died young and often under questionable, and sometimes quite violent, circumstances. The dark undercurrents pulsing through the canyons in the early 1970s that left such a trail of destruction extended well beyond the Hollywood Hills, as illustrated by the deaths of a handful of mostly forgotten figures in the rock community:

• Phil King, an early frontman for Blue Oyster Cult, a band whose album art and song lyrics suggested a keen interest in the occult, was shot three times in the back of the head in New York City on April 27, 1972, just three days shy of Walpurgisnacht. Three months later, on July 24,1972, Bobby Ramirez, the drummer for an early formation featuring frontman Edgar Winter, was beaten and stabbed to death in a Chicago bar. He was twenty-three years old.

• Rory Storm, the founder and frontman for the UK's Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, was found dead on September 28, 1972. Born Alan Caldwell on the autumnal equinox of 1939 in Liverpool, England, Storm had close ties to that other, far more famous band from Liverpool. The Hurricanes' original drummer was none other than Ritchie Starkey, who left the band to join John, Paul and George, becoming Ringo Starr in the process. It is said that George Harrison, who dated Storm's younger sister, initially wanted to join the Hurricanes but had to settle for the Quarrymen when he was deemed too young. That same sister would later date a young Paul McCartney. Popular on the Liverpool/Hamburg club circuit, the Hurricanes at times shared the stage with the Beatles, both before and after Starr's defection. Rory's band though-which he initially wanted to name Dracula and the Werewolves-never caught fire the way the Beatles did and by the late 1960s/early 1970s, Storm had to find work as a OJ. In Amsterdam at the time of his father's death in 1972, Rory returned to Liverpool to be with his grieving mother. On September 28, 1972, just one week after Rory's thirty-third birthday, both mother and son turned up dead in the family home. In a rather unlikely turn of events, it was claimed that both had independently committed suicide on the same day in different rooms of the same house. Storm reportedly had sleeping pills in his system, but not in sufficient concentrations to have caused his demise, leaving the actual cause of death something of a mystery.

• Ronald "Pigpen" McKernan, a founding member of the Grateful Dead from its early incarnations as the Zodiacs and the Warlocks, died on March 8, 1973. A vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, McKernan had a short romantic relationship and a somewhat longer friendship with fellow death-list member Janis Joplin. Pigpen was found dead at his home, reportedly of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. His death is primarily of interest because he was, like Joplin, twenty-seven years old at the time, qualifying him for membership in the Twenty-Seven Club alongside charter members Joplin, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, and more recent hall-of-famers such as Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.

• Graham Bond, who was widely considered to be a founding father of the 1960s British R&B boom, was killed on May 5, 1974, when he was reportedly run over by a train at London's Finsbury Park station. His death, to no one's surprise, was ruled a suicide. Bond, who was adopted and believed himself to be the biological son of occultist/spy Aleister Crowley, had a deep fascination with the occult. He also reportedly struggled with what the psychiatric community refers to as a manic depressive disorder, which was aggravated by chronic drug abuse. Bond was just thirty-six years old at the time of his death.

• Pete Ham, a singer/songwriter/guitarist and the leader of the British band Badfinger, another outfit with close ties to those lads from Liverpool, was found swinging from the end of a rope on April 23, 1975. Ham's band was first signed by the Beatles' own Apple label, and their first single, Come And Get It, was penned by Paul McCartney. According to rock lore, McCartney recorded the song himself and then insisted that Ham's band play and record it exactly the same way. Sir Paul also personally auditioned all four members of Badfinger to decide who would provide the lead vocal on the single. Ham's greatest claim to fame though was being the co-writer of the oft-recorded Without You, a song that became a monster hit around the world when it was committed to vinyl in 1972 by John Lennon's Sunset Strip/Laurel Canyon sidekick, Harry Nilsson-the very same Harry Nilsson whose London flat served as the death scene for both Mama Cass and Keith Moon. The song received numerous awards and Ham and his band moved over to Warner Bros. Records with the expectation that Badfinger was soon to become quite a sensation. It wasn't meant to be. Within a few years, Pete Ham was unemployed and turned up dead in his garage. Ham is yet another member of the Twenty-Seven Club, though not by much; his death came just three days before his twenty-eighth birthday. His passing was barely reported on, due in part to the fact that neither Warner Bros. nor the Beatles organization bothered to make an announcement or issue any public comment. Just one month later, his girlfriend gave birth to a daughter that Ham was never to know. Eight-and-a-half years later, on November 18, 1983, Tom Evans, Ham's former bandmate and the cowriter of Without You, was also found swinging from the end of a rope.

Shit happens, it appears.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:06 am

4. RELATED LIVES AND RELATIVE DEATHS

"No one here gets out alive."
-- Jim Morrison


BEFORE MOVING ON FROM THE LAUREL CANYON DEATH LIST, THERE ARE A few more celebrity deaths that demand a closer inspection. The first is a truly tragic tale of a rising star in Laurel Canyon, who, by the time of her death, had been completely forgotten. The second is the story of a man who had only tangential ties to Laurel Canyon, but whose life and death may provide one of the keys to understanding the canyon scene. And the third is the story of a guy who had no real connections to Laurel Canyon, but whose life arc has been so illuminatingly bizarre that it merits inclusion here.

Judee Lynn Sill was born in Studio City, California, not far from the northern entrance to Laurel Canyon, on October 7, 1944. Almost a quarter-century later, she would be favorably compared to such other Laurel Canyon singer/songwriters as Joni Mitchell, Judi Collins and Carole King. When she died though, on November 23, 1979, not a single obituary was published to note her passing.

Judee's father, Milford "Bud" Sill, was reportedly a cameraman for Paramount Studios with numerous Hollywood connections. When Judee was still quite young, however, Bud moved the family to Oakland and opened a bar known as Bud's Bar. He also operated a side business as an importer of rare animals, which required him to spend a considerable amount of time traveling in Central and South America. Such a business, it should be noted, would provide an ideal cover for covert intelligence work. In any event, Bud Sill was dead by 1952, when Judee was just seven or eight years old. Depending on who is telling the story, Bud died either from pneumonia or a heart attack.

Following Bud's death, the family relocated back to Southern California and Judee's older brother Dennis, though still in his teens, took over the family importing business. That career didn't last long though as Dennis soon turned up dead down in Central America, either from a liver infection or a car accident. The animal importing business, I guess, is a rather dangerous one.

Following Bud's death, Judee's mother, Oneta, met and married Ken Muse, an Academy Award-winning animator for Hanna-Barbera who was described by Judee as an abusive, violent alcoholic. At fifteen, Judee fled her violent home life and lived with an older man with whom she pulled off a series of armed robberies in the San Fernando Valley. Those activities landed her in reform school, which did little to curb her appetite for drugs, crime and alcohol. She spent the next few years with a serious heroin addiction, which she financed by dealing drugs and turning tricks in some of LA's seedier neighborhoods.

By 1963, Judee had cleaned herself up enough to enroll in junior college. In the early winter of 1965, however, Judee's mom, her last surviving family member, died either of cancer or of complications arising from her chronic alcoholism (take your pick; the details of this story will likely remain forever elusive). Barely an adult, Judee was left all alone in the world, and thus began another downward spiral into drugs and crime, which culminated in her being arrested and possibly serving time on forgery and drug charges.

In the late 1960s, with her addictions apparently temporarily curbed, Sill joined the Laurel Canyon scene, where she attempted to forge a career as a singer/songwriter. Her first big break came when she sold the song Lady O to the Turtles (yet another Laurel Canyon band to hit it big in the mid-1960s; best known for the hit single Happy Together, the Turtles were led by lead vocalist/songwriter Howard Kaylan, who happened to be, small world that it is, a cousin of Frank Zappa's manager and business partner, Herb Cohen). The band released the song, which featured Judee's guitar work, in 1969. The next year, Sill became the first artist signed to David Geffen's fledgling Asylum record label. The year after that, her self-titled debut album became Asylum's first official release. The first single from the album, Jesus Was A Crossmaker, was produced by Graham Nash, whom she opened for on tour following the album's release.

Though critically well-received, the album's sales were disappointing, in part because the record was overshadowed by the debut albums of Jackson Browne and the Eagles, both released by Asylum shortly after the release of Judee's album. Sill's second album, 1973's Heart Food, was even more of a commercial disappointment. Nevertheless, in 1974, she began work on a third album in Monkee Mike Nesmith's recording studio. Prior to completion, however, she abandoned the project and promptly disappeared without a trace. What became of her between that time and her death some five years later remains largely a mystery. It is assumed that she once again descended into a life of drugs and prostitution, but no one seems to know for sure.

It is alleged that she was seriously injured when her car was rear-ended by actor Danny Kaye, causing her to suffer from chronic back pain thereafter, thus contributing to her drug addictions. According to a friend of hers, she lived in a home that featured an enormous photo of Bela Lugosi above the fireplace, a large ebony cross above her bed, and racks of candles. She is said to have read extensively from Rosicrucian manuscripts and from the writings of Aleister Crowley, to have possessed a complete collection of the work of Helena Blavatsky, and to have been a gifted tarot card reader.

What is known for sure is that, on the day after Thanksgiving, 1979, Judee Sill, the last surviving member of her family, was found dead in a North Hollywood apartment. The cause of death was listed as "acute cocaine and codeine intoxication." It was claimed that a suicide note was found, but friends insisted that the supposed note was either a portion of a diary entry or an unfinished song. One of her friends would later note that, at some point in her life, Judee began to realize that "there was a part of her that wasn't under her conscious control." I'm guessing that the guy up for review next could relate to that...

Phil Ochs, a folk singer/songwriter and political activist, was found hanged in his sister's home in Far Rockaway, New York, on April 9, 1976. Throughout his life, Ochs was one of the most overtly political of the 1960s rock and folk music stars. A regular attendee at anti-war, civil rights, and labor rallies, Ochs appeared to be, at all times, an unwavering political leftist (he named his first band the Singing Socialists). That all changed, however, and rather dramatically, in the months before his death.

Born in El Paso, Texas, on December 19, 1940, Phil and his family moved frequently during the first few years of his life. His father, Dr. Jacob Ochs, had been drafted by the US Army and assigned to various military hospitals in New York, New Mexico and Texas. In 1943, Dr. Ochs was shipped overseas, returning two years later with a medical discharge. Upon his return, he was immediately institutionalized and didn't return to his family for another two years. During that time, he was subjected to every psychiatric 'treatment' imaginable, including electroshock 'therapy.' When he finally returned to his family, in 1947, he was but a shell of his former self, described by Phil's sister as "almost like a phantom."

Beginning in the fall of 1956, Phil Ochs began attending Staunton Military Academy, the very same institution that future serial killer/cult leader Gary Heidnik would attend just one year after Ochs graduated. During Phil's two years there, a friend and fellow band member was found swinging from the end of a rope. (I probably don't need to add here that the death was ruled a suicide.) Following graduation, Phil enrolled at Ohio State University, but not before, oddly enough, having a little plastic surgery done to alter his appearance (doing such things, needless to say, was rather uncommon in 1958).

In early 1962, just months before his scheduled graduation, Ochs dropped out of college to pursue a career in music. By 1966, he had released three albums. In 1967, under the management of his brother, Michael Ochs, Phil moved out to Los Angeles. Michael had begun working the previous year as an assistant to Billy James, who maintained a party house at 8504 Ridpath in-you guessed it-Laurel Canyon. As the 1970s rolled around, and with his career beginning to fade, Phil Ochs began to travel internationally, usually accompanied by vast quantities of booze and pills. Those travels included a visit to Chile not long before the US-sponsored coup that toppled Salvador Allende.

In the summer of 1975, Phil Ochs' public persona abruptly changed. Adopting the name John Butler Train, Ochs proclaimed himself a CIA operative and presented himself as a belligerent, right-wing thug. He told an interviewer that, "on the first day of summer 1975, Phil Ochs was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel by John Train ... For the good of societies, public and secret, he needed to be gotten rid of." That symbolic assassination, on the summer solstice, took place at the same hotel that Devon Wilson had flown out of a few years earlier. One of Ochs' biographers would later write that Phil/John "actually believed he was a member of the CIA." Also in those final months of his life, Ochs began compiling curious lists, with entries that apparently reference US biological warfare research: "shellfish toxin, Fort Dietrich, cobra venom, Chantilly Race Track, hollow silver dollars, New York Cornell Hospital. .."

Many years before Ochs' metamorphosis, in an interesting bit of foreshadowing, psychological warfare operative George Estabrooks explained, in his book Hypnotism, how US intelligence agencies had been working to create the perfect spy: "We start with an excellent subject... we need a man or woman who is highly intelligent and physically tough. Then we start to develop a case of multiple personality through hypnotism. In his normal waking state, which we will call Personality A, or PA, this individual will become a rabid communist. He will join the party, follow the party line and make himself as objectionable as possible to the authorities. Note that he will be acting in good faith. He is a communist, or rather his PA is a communist and will behave as such. Then we develop Personality B (PB), the secondary personality, the unconscious personality, if you wish, although this is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. This personality is rabidly American and anti-communist. It has all the information possessed by PA, the normal personality, whereas PA does not have this advantage ... My super spy plays his role as a communist in his waking state, aggressively, consistently, fearlessly. But his PB is a loyal American, and PB has all the memories of PA. As a loyal American, he will not hesitate to divulge those memories."

Estabrooks never explained what would happen if the programming were to go haywire and Personality B were to emerge and become the conscious personality, but my guess is that such a person would be considered a severe liability and would be treated accordingly. They might even find themselves swinging from the end of a rope. Phil Ochs was thirty-five at the time of his death.

Stacy Sutherland, the lead guitarist and a founding member of the 13th Floor Elevators, was shot to death on August 24, 1978. Despite considerable critical acclaim, the Elevators had only lasted a few years, from late 1965 through early 1968. Sutherland was imprisoned in 1969 on drug charges and reportedly drank heavily after that. He was just thirty-two when he was shot and killed by his wife Bunny during a domestic dispute. The shooting, curiously enough, was determined to be accidental, which I suppose means that Bunny accidentally picked up the gun, accidentally disengaged the safety, accidentally pointed it at her husband, accidentally put her finger on the trigger, and then accidentally pulled that trigger.

Even more interesting is the story of the band's frontman. During the group's brief period of existence, Sutherland was overshadowed by the enigmatic Roky Erickson. Born Roger Kynard Erickson on July 15, 1947, Roky was a musical prodigy who took up the piano at age five and the guitar at age ten. He was also, according to the 2005 documentary feature You're Gonna Miss Me, a severely abused child; there are strong indications, according to the filmmakers, that architect father Roger, who rarely spoke to the family, sexually abused Roky and his four younger brothers.

Though all but forgotten now, Erickson was a hugely influential figure in the mid- to late 1960s. Before there was a San Francisco scene, Texan Roky had coined the term 'psychedelic rock' and was the first to use feedback and distortion. His distinctive vocals were a major influence on fellow Texan Janis Joplin, who considered joining the Elevators before being shuffled off to San Francisco and superstardom. Erickson was also considered to be very good looking and was an immensely charismatic figure who was well liked by all who met him, men and women alike.

Roky began his music career at a young age, after making the curious decision to drop out of high school just a few weeks shy of graduating. By December 1965, he had formed the Elevators with Sutherland and a psychology student by the name of Tommy Hall, who was not a musician but who appears to have nevertheless been the driving force behind the concept of creating a psychedelic band. Hall was a very outspoken, Learyesque advocate of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms. He later became a devout follower of Scientology.

The band's first album, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, was released in November 1966, when singer/songwriter Roky was just nineteen. The band's sophomore effort, Easter Everywhere, was released the following November. Just months later though, the group's run would effectively end, though two more albums were subsequently released by the band's label.

The Elevators' final performance was at a world's fair in San Antonio, Texas, on, of all days, April 20, 1968. It was there, it is said, that Roky suffered a complete breakdown and began "speaking gibberish." He was still just twenty years old. Erickson was diagnosed as being a 'paranoid schizophrenic' and was forced to endure involuntary electro-convulsive 'therapy.' While hospitalized, he began hearing voices telling him "horrible things." A doctor treating him at the time claimed that Roky would not recover and would be a vegetable for the rest of his life.

After reportedly escaping with the help of a friend, Erickson headed to San Francisco where he started doing heroin and other hard drugs and soon developed hepatitis. Returning to Austin, Roky was busted with a single marijuana 'joint.' An attorney convinced him to plead 'not guilty by reason of insanity,' a ridiculous defense given the charge, and Erickson was quickly hustled off to Austin State Hospital. He was still just twenty years old at the time of his arrest.

Supposedly due to escape attempts, Roky was transferred to Rusk State Hospital, a stark, barren, maximum-security facility for the criminally insane. While there, Erickson was subjected to more forced ECT treatments and the forced administration of Thorazine. For three-and-a- half years. Also while confined there, he put together a prison band known as the Missing Links. One member of the band had killed two kids and raped and stabbed his own mother. Another had been involved in the rape and murder of a young boy in Houston. A third had killed his own parents and a sibling. And then there was Roky, who had been in possession of an insignificant amount of marijuana.

As 1972 came to a close, it was determined that Roky's sanity had been "restored" and he was released soon after. He was, however, just a shell of his former self.

In the mid-seventies, Erickson formed a new band, Roky Erickson and the Aliens, whose albums I Think of Demons (1980) and The Evil One (1981) revealed the frontman's then-current obsessions. At about that same time, he told an interviewer that, "the devil, you see, he's my friend." He also told an interviewer that an alien had taken possession of his body, a belief that he still claimed to hold as recently as 2005.

During the 1980s, Erickson withdrew from public view and continued his descent into madness. It is said that he developed a bizarre obsession with the US mail, particularly junk mail solicitations, and that he indulged that obsession for years, poring for hours over his and other people's mail. That chapter of his life reached a peak when he was arrested on mail theft charges after it was discovered that he had taken mail from neighbors and had it displayed in his home. He was, alas, once again institutionalized.

Throughout the 1990s, Roky appears to have continued to live a bizarre and troubled life. A reporter for Rolling Stone who attempted to interview him in 1995 described a heartbreaking scene: the formerly charismatic singer looked nothing like his younger self, with his teeth reduced to rotting stumps and his hair wild and matted. Multiple televisions, stereos and police scanners blared at maximum volume throughout his home, creating a cacophony of noise apparently intended to drown out the ever-present voices in his head.

Roky's fortunes began to change in the following decade, after his younger brother Sumner was awarded legal custody of the troubled icon in 2001. In fact, it could be argued that Erickson deserves a special place of honor on this list in that he appears to have pulled off the unlikely feat of returning from the dead. Rolling Stone, after all, wrote an obituary for Roky and the band way back in December 1968. But more than forty years later, in 2010, Erickson released an album of new material entitled True Love Cast Out All Evil. That disc was released, naturally enough, on April 20. And in March of 2012, Roky completed his first ever tour of Australia and New Zealand.

One final note on Erickson: In 1990, a tribute album containing covers of Roky's songs by such artists as REM and ZZ Top was released. The title of that collection, Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, was an obvious reference to the Masonic symbol that graces the back of the US dollar bill and that plays such a key role in various one-world conspiracy theories. The title was derived from a comment made by Erickson.

And with that, I think we can move on now from the Laurel Canyon Death List, at least temporarily. The list is not yet complete, mind you, since we have only covered the years 1966-1976. Rest assured then that we will continue to add names as we follow the various threads of this story. Lots of names. It is, as it turns out, an inordinately long list.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:06 am

5. DESIRABLE PEOPLE THE CANYON'S PECULIAR PAST

"Charles R. 'Chuck' Heath was born in March of 1938 ... The family lived on Farmdale Avenue, near the base of Laurel Canyon, close to where Studio City is located today."

-- Geoffrey Dunn, writing in The Lies of Sarah Palin (Chuck Heath is Sarah Palin's father)


UNTIL AROUND 1913, LAUREL CANYON REMAINED AN UNDEVELOPED SLICE of LA, a pristine wilderness area rich in native flora and fauna. That all began to change when Charles Spencer Mann and his partners began buying up land along what would become Laurel Canyon Boulevard, as well as on Lookout Mountain. A narrow road leading up to the crest of Lookout Mountain was carved out, and upon that crest was constructed a lavish seventy-room inn with sweeping views of the city below and the Pacific Ocean beyond. The Lookout Inn featured a large ballroom, riding stables, tennis courts and a golf course, among other amenities. But the inn, alas, would only stand for a decade; in 1923, it burned down, as tends to happen rather frequently in Laurel Canyon.

In 1913, Mann began operating what was billed as the nation's first trackless trolley, to ferry tourists and prospective buyers from Sunset Boulevard up to what would become the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Lookout Mountain Avenue. Around that same time, he built a massive tavern/roadhouse on that very same corner. Dubbed the Laurel Tavern, the structure boasted a 2,000+ square-foot formal dining room, guest rooms, and a bowling alley on the basement level. The Laurel Tavern, of course, would later be acquired by Tom Mix, after which it would be affectionately known as the Log Cabin.

Shortly after the Log Cabin was built, a department store mogul (or a wealthy furniture manufacturer; there is more than one version of the story, or perhaps the man owned more than one business) built an imposing, castle-like mansion across the road, at the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and what would become Willow Glen Road. The home featured rather creepy towers and parapets, and the foundation is said to have been riddled with secret passageways, tunnels, and hidden chambers. The grounds of the estate were laced with trails leading to grottoes, elaborate stone benches, and hidden caves and tunnels.

Across Laurel Canyon Boulevard, the grounds of the Laurel Tavern/ Log Cabin were also laced with odd caves and tunnels. As Michael Walker notes in Laurel Canyon, "Running up the hillside, behind the house, was a collection of man-made caves built out of stucco, with electric wiring and light bulbs inside:' According to various accounts, one secret tunnel running under what is now Laurel Canyon Boulevard connected the Log Cabin, or its guesthouse, to the Houdini estate. This claim is frequently denounced as an urban legend, but given that both properties are known to possess unusual geological features, it's not hard to believe that the tunnel system on one property was connected at one time to the tunnel system on the other. The Tavern itself, as Gail Zappa would later describe it, was "huge and vault-like and cavernous."

With these two rather unusual structures anchoring an otherwise undeveloped canyon, and the Lookout Inn sitting atop uninhabited Lookout Mountain, Mann set about marketing the canyon as a vacation and leisure destination. The land that he carved up into subdivisions with names like "Bungalow Land" and "Wonderland Park" was presented as the ideal location to build vacation homes. But the new inn and roadhouse, and the new parcels of land for sale, definitely weren't for everyone. The roadhouse was essentially a country club, or what Jack Boulware of Mojo described as "a masculine retreat for wealthy men." And Bungalow Land was openly advertised as "a high class restricted park for desirable people only."

"Desirable people," of course, tended to be wealthy people without a great deal of skin pigmentation.

As the website of the current Laurel Canyon Association notes, "restrictive covenants were attached to the new parcel deeds. These were thinly veiled attempts to limit ownership to white males of a certain class. While there are many references to the bigotry of the developers in our area, it would appear that some residents were also prone to bias and lawlessness. This article was published in a local paper in 1925:

"Frank Sanceri, the man who was flogged by self-styled 'white knights' on Lookout Mountain in Hollywood several months ago, was found not guilty by a jury in Superior Judge Shea's courtroom of having unlawfully attacked Astrea Jolley, aged eleven.

"Wealthier residents were also attracted to Laurel Canyon: With the creation of the Hollywood film industry in 1910, the canyon attracted a host of 'photoplayers,' including Wally Reid, Tom Mix, Clara Bow, Richard Dix, Norman Kerry, Ramon Navarro, Harry Houdini and Bessie Love."

The author of this little slice of Laurel Canyon history would clearly like us to believe that the "wealthier residents" were a group quite separate from the violent vigilantes roaming the canyon. The history of such groups in Los Angeles, however, clearly suggests otherwise. Paul Young, for example, has written in LA Exposed of Los Angeles' early "vigi1ance committees, which stepped in to take care of outlaws on their own, often with the complete absolution of the mayor himself. Judge Lynch, for example, formed the Los Angeles Rangers in 1854 with some of the city's top judges, lawyers, and businessmen including tycoon Phineas Banning of the Banning Railroad. And there was the Los Angeles Home Guard, another bloodthirsty paramilitary organization, made up of notable citizens, and the much-feared EI Monte Rangers, a group of Texas wranglers that specialized in killing Mexicans. As one would expect, there was no regard for the victim's rights in such kangaroo courts. Victims were often dragged from their homes, jail cells, even churches, and beaten, horse-whipped, tortured, mutilated, or castrated before being strung up on the nearest tree."

Before moving on, I need to mention here that, of the eight celebrity residents of Laurel Canyon listed by the Association, fully half died under questionable circumstances, and three of the four did so on days with occult significance. While Bessie Love, Norman Kerry, Richard Dix and Clara Bow all lived long and healthy lives, Ramon Navarro, as we have already seen, was ritually murdered in his home on Laurel Canyon Boulevard on the eve of Halloween, 1968. On January 18, 1923, matinee idol Wallace Reid was found dead in a padded cell at the mental institution to which he had been confined. Just thirty-one years old, Reid's death was attributed to his morphine addiction, though it was never explained how he would have fed that habit while confined to a cell in a mental hospital.

Tom Mix died on a lonely stretch of Arizona highway in the proverbial single-car crash on October 12, 1940 (the birthday of notorious occultist Aleister Crowley), when he quite unexpectedly encountered some temporary construction barricades that had been set up alongside a reportedly washed-out bridge. Although he wasn't speeding (by most accounts), Mix was nevertheless allegedly unable to stop in time and veered off the road, while a crew of what were described as "workmen" reportedly looked on. It wasn't the impact that killed Mix though, but rather a severe blow to the back of the head and neck, purportedly delivered during the crash by an aluminum case he had been carrying in the back seat of his car. There is now a roadside marker at the spot where Mix died. If you should happen to stop by to have a look, you may as well pay a visit to the Florence Military Reservation as well, since it's just a stone's throw away.

Harry Houdini died on Halloween day, 1926, purportedly of an attack of appendicitis precipitated by a blow to the stomach. The problem with that story, however, is that medical science now recognizes it to be an impossibility. According to a recent book about the famed illusionist- The Secret Life of Houdini, by William Kalush and Larry Sloman-Houdini was likely murdered by poisoning. Questions have been raised, the book notes, by the curious lack of an autopsy, an "experimental serum" that Houdini was apparently given in the hospital, and indications that his wife, Bess, may have been poisoned as well, though she survived. On March 23, 2007, an exhumation of Houdini's remains was formally requested by his surviving family members. It is unclear at this time when, or even if, that will happen.

Houdini's death, on October 31, 1926, came exactly eight years after the first death to occur in what would become known as the "Houdini house." In 1918, not long after the home was built, a lovers' quarrel arose on one of the home's balconies during a Halloween/birthday party. The gay lover of the original owner's son reportedly ended up splattered on the ground below. According to legend, the businessman succeeded in getting his son off the hook, but only after paying off everyone he could find to payoff, including the trial judge. The aftermath of the party proved to be financially devastating for the family, and the home was apparently put up for sale.

Not long after that, as fate would have it, Harry Houdini was looking for a place to stay in the Hollywood area, as he had decided to break into the motion picture business. He found the perfect home in Laurel Canyon-the home that would, forever after, carry his name. By most accounts, he lived there from about 1919 through the early 1920s, during a brief movie career in which he starred in a handful of Hollywood films. A key scene in one of those films, The Grim Game, was reportedly shot at the top of Lookout Mountain, very near where the Lookout Inn then stood.

On October 31, 1959, precisely thirty-three years after Houdini's death, and forty-one years after the unnamed party guest's death, the distinctive mansion on the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Willow Glen Road burned to the ground in a fire of mysterious origin. (The ruins of the estate remain today, undisturbed for nearly fifty years.) On October 31, 1981, exactly twenty-two years after the fire across the road, the legendary Log Cabin on the other side of Laurel Canyon Boulevard also burned to the ground, in yet another fire of mysterious origin. (Some reports speculated that it was a drug lab explosion.) And twenty-five years after that, on October 31,2006, The Secret Life of Houdini was published, challenging the conventional wisdom on Houdini's death.

Far more compelling than the revelations about Houdini's death, however, was something else about the illusionist that the book revealed for the first time: Harry Houdini was engaged in doing intelligence work for both the US Secret Service and Scotland Yard. And his traveling escape act, as it turns out, was pretty much a cover for those activities-in very much the same way that an actor by the name of John Wilkes Booth appears to have used his career as a traveling stage performer as a cover for intelligence operations. It is a time-honored tradition that seems to remain largely unchanged to this day.

The Sloman book, of course, doesn't make such reckless allegations about any performers other than Houdini. What the book does do, however, is compellingly document that Houdini was, in fact, an intelligence asset who used his magic act as a cover. Not only did the authors obtain corroborating documentation from Scotland Yard, they also received an endorsement of their claim from no less an authority than John McLaughlin, former Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

It appears then, that, of the eight celebrity residents of Laurel Canyon listed on the Laurel Canyon Association website, at least two (Novarro and Houdini), and quite possibly as many as four, were murdered. That seems like a rather high homicide rate given that, statistically speaking, a white person in this country has about a one-in-345 chance of being murdered. Non-white persons, of course, have a far greater chance of becoming the victims of a homicide, but nowhere near the one-in-four to one-in-two odds that a white celebrity living in Laurel Canyon faced.

Statistically speaking, if you were a famous actor in the 1920s, you would have been better off playing a round of Russian Roulette than living in Laurel Canyon.

Anyway ... two ambitious projects in the 1940s brought significant changes to Laurel Canyon. First, Laurel Canyon Boulevard was extended into the San Fernando Valley, providing access to the canyon from both the north and the south. The boulevard became a winding thoroughfare, providing direct access to the Westside from the Valley. Traffic, needless to say, increased considerably, which probably worked out well for the planners of the other project, because it meant that the increased traffic brought about by that other project probably wasn't noticed at all. And that's good, you see, because the other project was a secret one.

What would become known as Lookout Mountain Laboratory was originally envisioned as a fortified air defense center. Built in 1941 and nestled in two-and-a-half secluded acres off what is now Wonderland Park Avenue, the installation was hidden from view and surrounded by an electrified fence. By 1947, the facility featured a fully operational movie studio. In fact, it is claimed that it was the world's only completely self-contained movie studio. With 100,000 square feet of floor space, the covert studio included sound stages, screening rooms, film processing labs, editing facilities, an animation department, and seventeen climate-controlled film vaults. It also had a helicopter pad and a bomb shelter.

Over its lifetime, the studio produced some 19,000 classified motion pictures-more than all the Hollywood studios combined (which I guess makes Laurel Canyon the real 'motion picture capital of the world'). Officially, the facility was run by the USAir Force and did nothing more nefarious than process AEC footage of atomic and nuclear bomb tests. The studio, however, was clearly equipped to do far more than just process film. There are indications that Lookout Mountain Laboratory had an advanced research and development department that was on the cutting edge of new film technologies. Such technological advances as 3-D effects were apparently first developed at the Laurel Canyon site. And Hollywood luminaries like John Ford, Jimmy Stewart, Howard Hawks, Ronald Reagan, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Hedda Hopper and Marilyn Monroe were given clearance to work at the facility on undisclosed projects. There is no indication that any of them ever spoke of their work at the clandestine studio.

The facility retained as many as 250 producers, directors, technicians, editors, animators, etc., both civilian and military, all with top security clearances-and all reporting to work in a secluded corner of Laurel Canyon. Accounts vary as to when the facility ceased operations. Some claim it was in 1969, while others say the facility remained in operation longer. In any event, by all accounts the secret bunker had been up and running for more than twenty years before Laurel Canyon's rebellious teen years, and it remained operational for the most turbulent of those years.

The existence of the facility remained unknown to the general public until the early 1990s, though it had long been rumored that the CIA operated a secret movie studio somewhere in or near Hollywood. Filmmaker Peter Kuran was the first to learn of its existence, through classified documents he obtained while researching his 1995 documentary Trinity and Beyond. And yet even today, nearly twenty years after its limited public disclosure, one would have trouble finding even a single mention of this secret military/intelligence facility anywhere in the 'conspiracy' literature.

I think we can all agree though that there is nothing the least bit suspicious about a covert military facility operating in the epicenter of hippie culture, so let's move on.

In the 1950s, as Barney Hoskyns has written in Hotel California, Laurel Canyon was home to all "the hippest young actors," including, according to Hoskyns, Marlon Brando, James Dean, James Coburn and Dennis Hopper. It was home to Natalie Wood as well. In fact, Natalie lived in the very home that Cass Elliot would later turn into a Laurel Canyon party house. And like the home's later occupant, Wood died young under rather mysterious circumstances. As did, to a lesser extent, Canyonite James Dean. And as did, come to think of it, a few other people with very close ties to Canyonite Dennis Hopper.

Dean, Hopper's close friend and co-star, died in a near head-on collision on September 30, 1955, at the tender age of twenty-four. Then there was Nick Adams, who had formerly roomed with Hopper. Like Hopper, Adams had worked alongside James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. According to Dean himself, Adams had worked alongside Dean even earlier than that, when both were young male prostitutes working the mean streets of Hollywood. Adams died on February 6, 1968, at the age of thirty-six, in his home at 2126 El Roble Lane in Coldwater Canyon (one canyon west of Laurel Canyon, thus narrowly sparing Adams from a spot on the Laurel Canyon Death List).

Adams' official cause of death was listed as suicide, of course, but no one really seems to believe that. Actor Forrest Tucker has bluntly declared that, "All of Hollywood knows Nick Adams was knocked off." Nick's relatives reportedly received numerous hang-up calls on the day of his death, and his tape recorder, journals and various other papers and personal effects were conspicuously missing from his home. His lifeless body, sitting upright in a chair, was discovered by his attorney, Ervin "Tip" Roeder. On June 10, 1981, Roeder and his wife, actress Jenny Maxwell (best known for being spanked by Elvis in Blue Hawaii), were gunned down outside their Beverly Hills condo.

Next to fall was Sal Mineo, who, like Dean and Adams, had worked with Hopper on Rebel Without a Cause and remained a friend thereafter. Like Hopper, Mineo was a regular in the Sunset Strip clubs where the Doors, Love, the Byrds and the Mothers played. He had been alongside Hopper and Peter Fonda during the infamous 'riot' on the Sunset Strip in November 1966. And as has already been discussed, Mineo was stabbed to death in close proximity to those very same clubs on February 12, 1976.

Last to fall was Natalie Wood, who also appeared in Rebel Without a Cause and who had at various times dated both Dennis Hopper and Nick Adams. Wood died on November 29, 1981, in a drowning incident off Catalina Island that has never been adequately explained. At the time, she was in the company of actors Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Natalie was forty-three when she was laid to rest.

Of the four actors stricken with what has been dubbed the "Rebel Without a Cause Curse," two were former residents of Laurel Canyon, another lived at-and was killed at-the mouth of the canyon, and the fourth lived just a mile away, as the crow flies, in neighboring Coldwater Canyon. As I may have mentioned previously, Laurel Canyon seems to be a rather dangerous place to live.

The list of famous former residents of Laurel Canyon also includes the names w.e. Fields, Mary Astor, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Errol Flynn, Orson Welles, and Robert Mitchum, who was infamously arrested on marijuana charges in 1948 at 8334 Ridpath Drive, the same street that would later be home to rockers Roger McGuinn, Don Henley and Glen Frey, as well as Paul Rothchild, producer of both the Doors and Love. Mitchum's arrest, by the way, appears to have been a thoroughly staged affair that cemented his 'Hollywood bad boy' image and gave his career quite a boost, but I guess that's not really relevant here.

Another famous resident of Laurel Canyon was science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who resided at 8775 Lookout Mountain Avenue. Like so many other characters in this story, Heinlein was a graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and he had served as a naval officer. After that, he embarked on a successful writing career. And despite the fact that he was, by any objective measure, a rabid right-winger, his work was warmly embraced by the flower-power generation.

If that capsule biography sounds vaguely familiar, by the way, it is probably because it is virtually identical to the biography of a guy named L. Ron Hubbard, whom you may have heard of.

Heinlein's best-known work is the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which many in the Laurel Canyon scene found to be hugely influential. Ed Sanders has written, in The Family, that the book "helped provide a theoretical basis for Manson's Family." Charlie frequently used Strange Land terminology when addressing his flock, and he named his first Family-born son Valentine Michael Manson in honor of the book's lead character.

David Crosby was a big Heinlein fan as well. In his autobiography, he references Heinlein on more than one occasion, and proclaims that, "In a society where people can go armed, it makes everybody a little more polite, as Robert Heinlein says in his books." Frank Zappa was also a member of the Robert Heinlein fan club. Barry Miles notes in his biography of the rock icon that his home contained "a copy of Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince and other essential sixties reading, including Robert Heinlein's sci-fi classic, Stranger in a Strange Land, from which Zappa borrowed the word 'discorporate' for [the song] Absolutely Free."

And that, fearless readers, brings us to the Laurel Canyon era that we are primarily concerned with, the wild and wooly 1960s. But before returning to that era, what conclusions can be drawn from this brief look at early canyon history? For one, it appears that murder and random acts of violence have been a part of the culture of the canyon since the earliest days of its development. It also appears that intelligence operatives posing as entertainers have likewise been a part of the canyon scene since the earliest days. And, finally, it seems that intelligence operatives who didn't even bother to pose as entertainers were streaming into the canyon to report to work at Lookout Mountain Laboratory for at least twenty years before the first rock star set foot there.

We are supposed to believe that all of the musical icons who settled in Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and 1970s just sort of spontaneously came together (one finds the word "serendipitous" sprinkled freely throughout the literature). But how many peculiar coincidences do we have to overlook in order to believe that this was just a chance gathering?

Let's suppose, hypothetically speaking, that you happen to be Jim Morrison and have recently arrived in Laurel Canyon and now find yourself fronting a band that is on the verge of taking the country by storm. Just a mile or so down Laurel Canyon Boulevard from you lives another guy who also recently arrived in Laurel Canyon, and who also happens to front a band on the verge of stardom. He happens to be married to a girl that you attended kindergarten with, and her dad, like yours, was involved in atomic weapons research and testing (Admiral George Morrison for a time did classified work at White Sands). Her husband's dad, meanwhile, is involved in another type of WMD research: chemical warfare.

This other guy's business partner/manager is a spooky ex-Marine who just happens to have a cousin who, bizarrely enough, also fronts a rock band on the verge of superstardom. And this third rock-star-onthe- rise also happens to live in Laurel Canyon, just a mile or two from your house. Just down a couple of other streets, also within walking distance of your home, live two other kids who-wouldn't you know it?- also happen to front a new rock'n'roll band. These two kids happened to attend the same Alexandria, Virginia, high school that you attended, and one of them also attended Annapolis, just like your dad did, and just like your kindergarten friend's dad did.

Though almost all of you hail from the Washington, DC area, you now find yourselves on the opposite side of the country, in an isolated canyon high above the city of Los Angeles, where you are all clustered around a secret military installation. Given his background in research on atomic weapons, your father is probably familiar to some extent with the existence and operations of Lookout Mountain Laboratory, as is the father of your kindergarten friend.

The question that naturally arises here, I suppose, is this: What do you suppose the odds are that all of that just came together purely by chance?

When early installments of this story were posted online, I received a fair amount of negative feedback. Among other things, I was accused of inferring "guilt by association" and of engaging in "character assassination." One rather strident respondent complained that it was unfair to take a few isolated facts about an individual and use them to paint a sinister picture.

To some extent, these are valid complaints. And yes, it is fairly easy to gather together a few different isolated facts and use them to paint a much different portrait of these artists and pen an impassioned defense of any of them. (Jim Morrison and Frank Zappa seem to have the most rabid fans, by the way, in case anyone was wondering.) But what I ask is that you try to stand back and take in the big picture, and then ask yourself the following question: Exactly how many coincidences does it take to make a conspiracy?

And yes, by the way, I am very much aware of the fact that Jim Morrison was fond of telling interviewers that his parents were dead, and that, according to legend, he did so because they were, in essence, dead to him. But as one photograph reveals, Jim's dad wasn't dead to him just months before his emergence as a rock star. The photo, reproduced at the front of this book, shows the two Morrisons on the bridge of the USS Bon Homme Richard in January 1964. It seems rather obvious to me that telling people that your parents are dead could be a very effective way of avoiding talking about who your father really is. It was such an effective strategy, in fact, that it took over four decades for the truth to finally come out.
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Re: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Op

Postby admin » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:46 am

6. VITO AND HIS FREAKERS THE SINISTER ROOTS OF HIPPIE CULTURE

"Call them freaks, the underground, the counterculture, flower children or hippies -- they are all loose labels for the youth culture of the sixties."

-- Barry Miles, author of Hippie


"Vito was in his fifties, but he had four-way sex with goddesses ... He held these clay-sculpting classes on Laurel Avenue, teaching rich Beverly Hills dowagers how to sculpt. And that was the Byrds' rehearsal room. Then Jim Dickson had the idea to put them on at Ciro's, on the basis that all the freaks would show up and the Byrds would be their Beatles."

-- Kim Fawley


"THIS IS HOW I REMEMBER MY LIFE. OTHER FOLKS MAY NOT HAVE THE SAME memories, even though we might have shared some of the same experiences."

So begins David Crosby's autobiography, Long Time Gone (co-written by Carl Gottlieb). As it turns out, quite a few other folks seem to remember some people in Crosby's life who are all but ignored in the lengthy book. The names are casually dropped only once, and not by Crosby but rather in a quote from Byrds' manager Jim Dickson in which he describes the scene at the Sunset Strip clubs when the Byrds were playing: "We had them all. We had Jack Nicholson dancing, we had Peter Fonda dancing with Odetta, we had Vito and his Freakers."

Following that brief mention by Dickson, Gottlieb briefly explains to readers that, "Vito and his Freakers were an acid-drenched extended family of brain-damaged cohabitants." And that, in an incredibly self-indulgent 489-page tome, is the only mention you will find of "Vito and his Freakers" -despite the fact that, by just about all other accounts, the group dismissed as "brain-damaged cohabitants" played a crucial role in the early success of Crosby's band. And in the early success of Arthur Lee's band. And in the early success of Frank Zappa's band. And in the early success of Jim Morrison's band. But especially in the early success of David Crosby's band.

As Barry Miles noted in his biography of Frank Zappa, "The Byrds were closely associated with Vito and the Freaks: Vito Paulekas, his wife Szou and Carl Franzoni, the leaders of a group of about thirty-five dancers whose antics enlivened the Byrds early gigs." In Waiting for the Sun, Barney Hoskyns wrote that the early success of the Byrds and other bands was due in no small part to "the roving troupe of self-styled 'freaks' led by ancient beatnik Vito Paulekas and his trusty, lusty sidekick Carl Franzoni." Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer, former drummer and keyboardist for the band Love, went further still, claiming that Vito actually "got the Byrds together, as I remember-they did a lot of rehearsing at his pad."

According to various other accounts, the Byrds did indeed utilize Vito's 'pad' as a rehearsal studio, as did Arthur Lee's band. More importantly, the freaks drew the crowds into the clubs to see the fledgling bands perform. But as important as their contribution was to helping launch the careers of the Laurel Canyon bands, "Vito and his Freakers" were notable for something else as well; according to Barry Miles, writing in his book Hippie, "The first hippies in Hollywood, perhaps the first hippies anywhere, were Vito, his wife Szou, Captain Fuck and their group of about thirty-five dancers. Calling themselves Freaks, they lived a semi-communal life and engaged in sex orgies and free-form dancing whenever they could."

Some of those who were on the scene at the time agree with Miles' assessment that Vito and his troupe were indeed the very first hippies. Arthur Lee, for example, boasted that they "started the whole hippie thing: Vito, Carl, Szou, Beatie Bob, Bryan and me." One of David Crosby's fellow Byrds, Chris Hillman, also credited the strange group with being at the forefront of the hippie movement: "Carl and all those guys were way ahead of everyone on hippiedom fashion." Ray Manzarek of the Doors remembered them as well: "There were these guys named Carl and Vito who had a dance troupe of gypsy freaks. They were let in for free, because they were these quintessential hippies, which was great for tourists."

If these rather colorful people really were the very first hippies, the very first riders of that 'countercultural' wave, then we should probably try to get to know them. As it turns out, however, that is not such an easy thing to do. Most accounts-and there aren't all that manyoffer little more than a few first names, with no consensus agreement on how those first names are even spelled ("Karl" and "Carl" appear interchangeably, as do "Szou" and "Zsou," and "Godot" and "Godo"). But for you, dear readers-because I am a giver-I have gone the extra mile and sifted through the detritus to dig up at least some of the sordid details.

By all accounts the troupe was led by one Vito Paulekas, whose full name was Vitautus Alphonso Paulekas. Born the son of a Lithuanian sausage-maker on May 20, 1913, Vito hailed from Lawrence, Massachusetts (though some accounts claim it was Lowell, Massachusetts). Parents John and Rose Paulekas had three other kids, giving Vito an older sister named Albena and two younger brothers, Bronislo and John.

Some accounts claim that from a young age, Vito developed a habit of running afoul of the law. According to Miles, for example, Vito spent a year-and-a-half in a reformatory as a teenager and "was busted several times after that." A family member though disputes those claims. What isn't disputed is that, in 1938, he was convicted of armed robbery and handed a twenty-five year sentence following a botched attempt at holding up a movie theater. In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, he had won a marathon dance competition held at Revere Beach. His winnings had given him a taste of the good life that he was thereafter unable to sustain, leading to the robbery attempt.

In 1942, just four years after his conviction, Vito was released into the custody, so to speak, of the US Merchant Marines (a branch of the US Navy during wartime), ostensibly to escort ships running lend-lease missions. Following his release from the service, circa 1946, he arrived in Los Angeles. Two years later, a curious event played out in another part of the country, as documented in the February 23, 1948, edition of Time magazine:

"One morning last week, bespectacled Bryant Bowden, editor of the weekly Okeechobee (Fla.) News, sauntered into the Okeechobee courthouse and stopped to eye the bulletin board in the main hall. Among the marriage-license applications, which, by Florida law, must be publicly posted for three days before a ceremony, he saw something which made him goggle. Winthrop Rockefeller, thirty-five, of New York-the fourth of John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s five sons and one of the most eligible bachelors in the world-had stated his intention of marrying one Eva Sears, also of New York. Editor Bowden had a bitter moment-his paper would not be published for two days. Then he remembered that he was the Okeechobee correspondent for the Associated Press. He telephoned the AP office in Jacksonville. A few hours later, the whole US journalistic horizon glowed a bright pink with the fireworks he had touched off. While the first headlines blazed (and while Manhattan gossip columnists scrambled to assure their readers that they had known all about the romance for months), herds of reporters were dispatched to find an answer to the question: Who is Eva Sears? Hearst's Cholly Knickerbocker (Ghighi Cassini) haughtily announced that she was Mrs. Barbara Paul Sears of the fine old Philadelphia Pauls and thus a society girl of impeccable pedigree. He was wrong."

Indeed he was. So who was this mystery woman-this woman who, as it turns out, had once had a brief career in Hollywood before moving to Paris and taking a job as a secretary at the US embassy? She appears to have gone by many names at different times in her life, including Eva Paul, Eva Paul Sears, Barbara Paul, Barbara Paul Sears, and "Bobo" Rockefeller. None of them, however, was the name she was given at the time of her birth. As Time noted, "Her parents were Lithuanian immigrants and she was born Jievute Paulekiute in a coal patch near Noblestown, Pa." Even that, however, was not her real name-at least not by American custom and tradition.

In her parents' homeland, "Paulekiute" is the feminine version of "Paulekas." Eva Paul's father, as it turns out, just happened to be the brother of Vito Paulekas' father. (A fact verified by-and brought to my attention by-a member of the Paulekas family.) I'm no genealogist, but I'm pretty sure that that means that the self-styled "King of the Hippies" was, improbably enough, a first cousin of Bobo Rockefeller and a cousin-in-law (for lack of a better term) of Winthrop Rockefeller himself. Vito was also a cousin of the couple's only child, Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who would later serve as the lieutenant governor of the state of Arkansas.

The Paulekas family, alas, missed Winthrop and Bobo's day of celebration. According to Time, "Bobo's mother and stepfather ... were unable to attend the ceremony because they were making a batch of Lithuanian cheese on their Indiana farm." I guess we all have our priorities. Truth be told though, the Paulekas clan has a somewhat different explanation: they were deliberately excluded from the ceremony as it was felt they were a bit too uncultured to break bread with the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the Marquess of Blandford.

As for Vito, he appears to have rather quickly established himself in Los Angeles as a respected artist/sculptor. As early as August of 1949, the Los Angeles Times announced that an art exhibit at the Biltmore Hotel was to feature his work. In May of 1956, another announcement held that there would be an exhibit by "Vito and his students" to be held at the Vito Clay Studios on Laurel Avenue. Another announcement, in February of 1958, alerted readers that a gallery on La Cienega Boulevard would be featuring the work of sculptor "Vito Bouleka." And the next year, in May 1959, a gallery on Beverly Boulevard was scheduled to host an exhibit featuring works from "Vito Clay Studios."

Also during the decade of the 1950s, Vito married and fathered two children, though that marriage had melted down by the time the 1960s rolled around. It was Vito's second marriage, his first having been to a teen bride back in his marathon dancing days, before his prison stint. On July 7, 1961, he married yet again, to the aforementioned Szou, whose real name was Susan Cynthia Shaffer. Vito was forty-eight at the time and Szou was just eighteen. She had been only sixteen when they met.

Vito and Szou made their home in an unassuming building at the corner of Laurel Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, just below the mouth of Laurel Canyon and practically within spitting distance of Jay Sebring's hair salon. At street level was Szou's clothing boutique, which has been credited by some scenesters with being the very first to introduce hippie fashions. Upstairs were living quarters for Vito, Szou and their firstborn son, Godo. Downstairs was what was known as the Vito Clay Studio, where, according to Miles and various others, Paulekas "made a living of sorts by giving clay modeling lessons to Beverly Hills matrons who found the atmosphere in his studio exciting." According to most accounts, it wasn't really the Mayan-tomb decor of the studio that many of the matrons found so exciting, but rather Vito's reportedly insatiable sexual appetite and John Holmesian physique. In any event, Vito's students also apparently included such Hollywood luminaries as Jonathan Winters, Mickey Rooney and Steve Allen.

As for his erstwhile sidekick, Carl Orestes Franzoni, he has claimed in interviews that his "mother was a countess" and his father "was a stone carver from Rutland, Vermont. The family was brought from Italy, from the quarries in the northern part of Italy, to cut the stone for the monuments of the United States." That would make his ancestors, it stands to reason, of considerable importance in the Masonic community. And there were in fact a couple of brothers named Franzoni who were brought over from Italy in the early 1800s to carve the Masonic monuments of Washington. According to Ihna Thayer Frary's They Built the Capitol, Guiseppe Franzoni, who came over with his brother Carlo, "had especially good family connections in Italy, he being a nephew of Cardinal Franzoni and son of the President of the Academy of Fine Arts at Carrara." Also making their way to the New World were Francisco lardella, a cousin of the Franzoni brothers, and Giovanni Andrei, a brother-in-law of Guiseppe Franzoni.

By Carl Franzoni's own account, he himself grew up as something of a young hoodlum in Cincinnati, Ohio, and later went into business with some shady Sicilian characters selling mail-order breast and penis pumps out of an address on LA's fabled Melrose Avenue. As Franzoni remembered it, his business "partner's name was Scallacci, Joe Scallacci- the same name as the famous murderer Scallacci. Probably from the same family." Probably so.

Franzoni, born circa 1934, hooked up with the older Paulekas sometime around 1963 and soon after became his constant sidekick. Also in the troupe was a young Rory Flynn (Canyonite Errol Flynn's statuesque daughter), a bizarre character named Ricky Applebaum who had half a moustache on one side of his face and half a beard on the other, most of the young girls who would later become part of Frank Zappa's GTO project, and a lot of other colorful characters who donned pseudonyms like Linda Bopp, Butchie, Beatie Bob, Emerald, and Karen Yum Yum.

Also flitting about the periphery of the dance troupe were Navy brat Gail Sloatman and a curious character on the LA music scene by the name of Kim Fowley. Sloatman and Fowley were, for a time, closely allied and even cut a record together, America's Sweethearts, that Fowley produced. In 1966, Fowley produced a record for Vito as well, billed as Vito and the Hands. The seven-inch single, Where It's At, which featured the musicianship of some of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention cohorts, came no closer to entering the charts than did Fowley and Sloatman's effort. Sloatman though soon found work as an assistant to, and booking agent for, Elmer Valentine, whom we will meet shortly.

Fowley, as with so many other characters in this story, has a rather interesting history. He was born in 1939, the son of actor Douglas Fowley, a WWII Navy veteran and attendee of St. Francis Xavier Military Academy. According to the younger Fowley's account, he was initially abandoned to a foster home but later taken back and raised by his father. He grew up in upscale Malibu, California, where he shared his childhood home with "a bunch of actors and guys from the Navy." At the age of six-and-a-half, Fowley had an unusual experience that he later shared with author Michael Walker: dressed up in a sailor suit by his dad and his Navy buddies, he was taken "to a photographer named William, who took a picture of me in the sailor suit. His studio was next door to the Canyon [Country) Store." Right after that, he was driven down Laurel Canyon Boulevard to the near-mythical Schwab's Drugstore, where "everybody cheered and two chorus girls grabbed my six-year-old cock and balls and stuck a candy cigarette in my mouth."

It's probably safe to assume that childhood experiences such as that helped to prepare Fowley for his later employment as a young male street hustler, a profession that he practiced on the seedy streets of the City of Angels (by Fowley's own account, I should add, just as it was James Dean himself who claimed to have worked those same streets with Nick Adams). Following that, Fowley spent some time serving with the Army National Guard, after which he devoted his life to working in the LA music industry as a musician, writer and producer-as well as, according to some accounts, a master manipulator.

Around 1957, Fowley played in a band known as the Sleepwalkers, alongside future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. At times, a diminutive young guitarist named Phil Spector-who had moved out to LA with his mother not too many years earlier, following the suicide of his father when Phil was just nine-sat in with the group. During the 1960s, Fowley was best known for producing such ridiculous yet beloved novelty songs as the Hollywood Argyles' Alley Oop and the Rivingtons' Papa Oom-Mow-Mow, though he also did more respectable work such as collaborating on some Byrds' tracks and having some of his original songs covered by both the Beach Boys and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

In 1975, Fowley would have perhaps his greatest success when he created the Runaways, further lowering the bar that Frank Zappa had already set rather low some years earlier when he had created and recorded the GTOs. The Runaways featured underage versions of Joan Jett and Lita Ford, whom Fowley tastefully attired in leather and lingerie. As he would later boast, "Everyone loved the idea of sixteen-year-old girls playing guitars and singing about fucking." Some of the young girls in the band, including Cherie Curry, would later accuse Fowley of requiring them to perform sexual services for him and his associates as a prerequisite for membership in the group.

Prior to assembling the Runaways, one of Fowley's proudest accomplishments was producing the 1969 album I'm Back and I'm Proud by rockabilly pioneer Gene Vincent, featuring backing vocals by Canyonite Linda Ronstadt. Just two years later, Vincent-a Navy veteran raised in that penultimate Navy town, Norfolk, Virginia-died unexpectedly on October 12, 1971, due reportedly to a ruptured stomach ulcer. Not long before his death, Vincent had been on tour in the UK but he had hastily returned to the US due to pressure from, among others, promoter Don Arden. Known none-too-affectionately as the "AI Capone of Pop," Arden had a penchant for guns and violence and he was known to openly boast of his affiliation with powerful organized crime figures. In addition to being a business partner of the equally nefarious Michael Jeffery, Arden was also the father of Sharon Osbourne and the former manager of her husband's band, Black Sabbath ... but here I have surely digressed, so let's try to bring this back around to where we left off.

At least as early as 1962, not long before Carl Franzoni joined the group, the freak troupe was already hitting the clubs a couple nights each week to refine their unique style of dance (perhaps best described as an epileptic seizure set to music) and show off their distinctively unappealing, though soon to be quite popular, fashion sense. In those early days, they danced to local black R&B bands and to a band out of Fresno known as the Gauchos, in dives far removed from the fabled Sunset Strip-because, Franzoni has said, "There were no white bands [in LA] yet," and "There were no clubs on Sunset Boulevard."

That, of course, was all about to quickly change. As if by magic, new clubs began to spring up along the legendary Sunset Strip beginning around 1964, and old clubs considered to be long past their prime miraculously reemerged. In January 1964, a young Chicago vice cop named Elmer Valentine opened the doors to the now world-famous Whisky-a- Go-Go nightclub. Just over a year later, in spring of 1965, he opened a second soon-to-be-wildly-popular club, the Trip. Not long before that, near the end of 1964, the legendary Ciro's nightclub began undergoing extensive renovations. Opened in 1940 by Billy Wilkerson, an associate of Bugsy Siegel, the upscale club had flourished for the first twenty years of its existence, with a clientele that regularly included Hollywood royalty and organized crime figures. By the early 1960s, though, the Strip was dead, and the once prestigious club had gone to seed.

Ciro's reopened in early 1965, just before the Trip opened its doors and just in time, as it turns out, to host the very first club appearance by the musical act that was about to become the first Laurel Canyon band to commit a song to vinyl: The Byrds. By 1967, Gazzari's had opened up on the Strip as well, and in the early 1970s Valentine would open yet another club that endures to this day, the Roxy. Smaller clubs like the London Fog, where the Doors got their first booking as the house band in early 1966, opened their doors to the public in the mid-1960s as well.

The timing of the opening of Valentine's first two clubs, and the reopening of Ciro's, could not have been any more fortuitous. The paint was barely dry on the walls of the new clubs when bands like Love and the Doors and the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield and the Turtles and the Mothers of Invention and the Mamas and the Papas and the Lovin' Spoonful came knocking. The problem, however, was that the new clubs were not yet known to the general public, Ciro's had been long left for dead, and nobody had the slightest idea who any of these newfangled bands were. What was needed then was a way to create a buzz around the clubs that would draw people in and kick-start the Strip back to life, as well as, of course, launch the careers of the new bands.

The bands themselves could not be expected to fill the new clubs, since, besides being unknown, they also-and yeah, I know that you don't really want to hear this and I will undoubtedly be deluged with letters of complaint, but I'm going to say it anyway-weren't very good, at least not in their live incarnations. To be sure, they sounded great on vinyl, but that was largely due to the fact that the band members themselves didn't actually play on their records (at least not in the early days), and the rich vocal harmonies that were a trademark of the 'Laurel Canyon sound' were created in the studio with a good deal of multi-tracking and overdubs. On stage, it was another matter entirely.

Enter then the wildly flamboyant and colorful freak squad, who were one key component of the strategy that was devised to lure patrons into the clubs. Vito and Carl's dancers were a fixture on the Sunset Strip scene from the very moment that the new clubs opened their doors to the public, and they were, by all accounts, treated like royalty by the club owners. As John Hartmann, proprietor of the Kaleidoscope Club and brother of comedian Phil Hartman, acknowledged, he "would let Vito and his dancers into the Kaleidoscope free every week because they attracted people. They were really hippies, and so we had to have them. They got in free pretty much everywhere they went. They blessed your joint. They validated you. If they're the essence of hippiedom and you're trying to be a hippie nightclub, you need hippies."

As the aforementioned Kim Fowley put it, with characteristic bluntness, "A band didn't have to be good, as long as the dancers were there." Indeed, the band was largely irrelevant, other than to provide some semblance of a soundtrack for the real show, which was taking place on the dance floor. Gail Zappa once candidly admitted that, even at her husband's shows, the real attraction was not on the stage: "The customers came to see the freaks dance. Nobody ever talks about that, but that was the case." Frank Zappa added, "As soon as they arrived they would make things happen, because they were dancing in a way nobody had seen before, screaming and yelling out on the floor and doing all kinds of weird things. They were dressed in a way that nobody could believe, and they gave life to everything that was going on."

For reasons that clearly had more to do with boosting attendance at the clubs than with the dancing abilities displayed by the group, Vito and Carl seem to have become minor media darlings over the course of the 1960s and into the 1970s. The two can be seen, separately and together, in a string of cheap exploitation films, including Mondo Bizarro from 1966, Something's Happening (aka The Hippie Revolt) from 1967, the notorious Mondo Hollywood, also released in 1967, and You Are What You Eat, with David Crosby, Frank Zappa and Tiny Tim, which hit theaters in 1968. In 1972, Vito made his acting debut in a non-documentary film, The White Horse Gang.

Paulekas reportedly also popped up on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life, and Franzoni made an appearance on a 1968 Dick Clark TV special. The golden child, Godo Paulekas, was featured in a photo in Life magazine circa 1966, and the whole troupe showed up for an appearance on the Tonight Show. According to Barry Miles, Vito also "appeared regularly on the Joe Pyne Show and in between the bare-breasted girls in the late fifties and early sixties men's magazines."

Joe Pyne, for those of you too young to remember, is the guy we have to thank for paving the way for the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Don Imus, Morton Downey, Jr., Jerry Springer and Wally George. For Mr. Pyne, you see, was the guy who pioneered the confrontational interview style favored by so many today. The decorated Marine Corps veteran debuted as a talk-radio host in 1950 and quickly became known for insulting and demeaning anyone who dared to disagree with him, guests and listeners alike. In 1957, he moved his show to LA and by 1965, he was nationally syndicated both on the radio and on television. His favored targets, as you may have guessed, included hippies, feminists, gays, and anti-war activists, and his interviews frequently ended with his guest either walking off or being thrown off the stage. Nearing the peak of his popularity, Pyne died on March 23, 1970, at the age of forty-five, reportedly of lung cancer. His ideological offspring, however, live on.
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