Monday, August 25, 2014

Grammy Museum Goes Back in Time With Laurel Canyon Exhibit - Now through November 30th

Joni Mitchell


Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 1:34 pm, Wed May 21, 2014.
Grammy Museum Goes back in Time With Laurel Canyon Exhibit

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - In the mid to late 1960s and ’70s, residents of Laurel Canyon needed only to open a window to be serenaded by the harmonies wafting from some of the most compelling musicians of the era. Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa and Jim Morrison lived there. So did members of The Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
That neighborhood above the Sunset Strip, and that scene, complete with its hippie fashion, a penchant for earthy consciousness and, for many, a fondness for mind-altering drugs, is chronicled in California Dreamin’: The Sounds of Laurel Canyon 1965-1977. The exhibit, built around dozens of intimate portraits and candid shots from photographer Henry Diltz, opened at the Grammy Museum this month. It runs though Nov. 30.

Brimming with four dozen artifacts and two walls of Diltz’s photos, California Dreamin’ begins with a wooden, hand-painted rocking chair encased in glass. It is the chair that “Mama Cass” Elliot rocked in on her front porch, which served as the gateway to the Laurel Canyon music scene, said Grammy Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli.

Cass, said Santelli, was the “Earth Mother” of Laurel Canyon, and whenever someone new arrived, she always opened her home and introduced the person around. Next to her chair is a jewelry box filled with the chunky bracelets and oversized rings Cass wore in any number of Diltz’s photographs.

Interestingly, it’s not the only chair in the exhibit. Also on display is the late Jim Morrison’s writing seat. Upholstered in purple velvet, the high-backed wooden armchair followed The Doors’ frontman to Paris. After his death in 1971, Morrison’s publicist brought it back to the United States and put it in storage. As Santelli began assembling pieces for California Dreamin’, a museum staffer mentioned that her husband is related to Morrison’s publicist and suggested showing the chair, which is in near perfect condition.
“It was meant to be,” Santelli said.

As visitors meander through the exhibit, named for The Mamas & The Papas song, they hear era favorites including “For What Its Worth” by Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Listening stations offer up other songs, among them The Doors’ “Love Street.” There are also several short video clips, including one in which Gail Zappa, Frank’s widow, explains how they met (at LAX), what he first said to her (“You’re cute”) and how he smelled (like peanut butter).

Another video shows Diltz explaining one of his most recognized photographs: The Doors behind the front window of the Morrison Hotel, which was located at 1246 S. Hope St. in Downtown Los Angeles. Keyboard player Ray Manzarek discovered the building one day with his wife and thought it’d make a great shot. The man behind the hotel desk wouldn’t let them shoot inside, but as soon as he stepped into the elevator, Diltz recalls, the band members ran in and he snapped the image. It became the cover of The Doors’ fifth album.

It was one of many high-profile shots for the man who, among other things, was the official Woodstock photographer. Still, Diltz snapped his way into posterity almost by accident: In an interview, he said was shooting a mural when a group of guys walked out of the building. Diltz asked them to pose, for perspective. It turned out to be the members of Buffalo Springfield.

“I just wanted to take pictures of my friends so we could have slideshows to watch,” he said, noting that two of those friends were Stephen Stills and David Crosby. “Those were magic times.”

Looking back on those years, Diltz is filled with nostalgia for a time when peoples’ consciousness was raised. The ideals for many during that era, he said, were focused on appreciating each other and the planet. In hindsight, he said, Laurel Canyon was almost a mythical place.

“There was a bit of a feeling of how wonderful life was, and a focus on peace and love. It all happened as Laurel Canyon blossomed,” he said.

Removed Yet Central
In the mid-1960s, Santelli said, the musicians were drawn to Laurel Canyon’s cheap rent and bucolic, mountainous atmosphere. While it seemed removed from the bustle of Los Angeles, it was also close to the Sunset Strip and the famed clubs the Whisky a Go-Go, The Roxy and The Troubadour.

“You could be in a rural area right in the middle of a big city. No other place offered that,” Santelli said. “If you were in Greenwich Village in New York you had to drive [many] miles to get away. Here you went over the hill.”

Most of the musicians were transplants from other cities, Santelli noted. The arrivals to Laurel Canyon included Carole King, who relocated from New York, and Linda Ronstadt, who left Tucson. Future Eagles Don Henley and Glenn Frey arrived on the scene from Texas and Michigan, respectively. Gram Nash came from England.

Santelli assembled the exhibit, one of five musical scene showcases the Grammy Museum will feature over the next few years, from pieces loaned either by the artists or their family members and friends. Gail Zappa provided handwritten, unfinished lyrics to an unpublished song by her late husband. Gram Parsons’ lyrics-filled notebook, complete with swirling penmanship and blotted with several scratch outs, is on display. So is a banjo that belonged to The Monkees’ Peter Tork, a cape from Crosby and even the original music contract between all the members of The Byrds and their management company. There’s also a wooden stash box with a cocaine bindle and marijuana “roach holder” on loan from “Anonymous.”

There’s an interactive element as well. Visitors can record a message about where they were or which Laurel Canyon bands they saw back in the day. Santelli smiles widely at one of his memories from 1969: He’d just graduated from high school in New Jersey, he played guitar, and had tried to attend the Woodstock Music Festival in New York, but he couldn’t get through the traffic-choked highway. So he and his buddies headed back home to the Jersey Shore and went surfing.

The museum will keep the visitors’ recordings as part of its archives.

To Attend:
California Dreamin’: The Sounds of Laurel Canyon 1965-1977 runs through Nov. 30 at the Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., (213) 765-6800 or
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2014


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Thanks Starship!

louis365 said...

John Mayall's album "Blues From Laurel Canyon" (1968) is one of my favorite Blue's albums.

sunset77 said...

Whenever I see a post that mentions Frank Zappa, it gives me an excuse to ride down memory lane and watch a bunch of his old videos. We listened to several of his albums extensively in college. When I hear his music I still remember the smell of the incense (and other things).

Well the years was rollin' by
Heavy Metal 'n' Glitter Rock
Had caught the public eye
Snotty boys with lipstick on
Was really flyin' high
'N' then they got that Disc thing
'N' New Wave came along
'N' all of the sudden I thought the time
Had come for that old song
We used to play in Joe's Garage.

CarolMR said...

Very interesting. Thanks, Starship.

Patty is Dead said...

mansonblog visited the exhibit in May: very good, but nothing too enlightening on Manson. Recommended if you are in the area.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

I received this as a google alert today:

Debra Tate is in "People" magazine.

starship said...

Yes, Lynyrd. Check out the Col's Blog or else wait a bit and he may post a link here. He did over at

Chris B said...

As we're going link crazy, I see Tex has had a major overhaul of his website

louis365 said...

He's NOW the "Former "Tex" Watson???

katie8753 said...

Thanks Chris. Tex is so creepy and so is his website. He can re-do it all he wants but a skunk doesn't lose his stripes.

MrPoirot said...

Here's a link to a Joni Mitchell bio. She's a neurotic environmentalist who hates America.

MrPoirot said...

The lyrics to "Our House" need to be changed to reflect more accurately the state of Joni and Graham's domesticity.

Our house
Was a very very fine house
With two cats in the yard
and then she started crying and screaming
That her skin was crawling!

MrPoirot said...

Joni's skin crawling and skin sores sound like a codeine or opium addiction. This would cause her to avoid wearing clothing. These are the same symptoms Howard Hughes had as well as social isolation.

katie8753 said...

I hate Joni Mitchell. She sucks.

katie8753 said...

She had a falsetto creepy voice.

MrPoirot said...

Joni has turned herself into a combination Howard Hughes/Nora Desmond type. She shares her living time between a house in remote Manitoba and a Bel Air mansion. I wonder if she owns an old Duesenberg and employs a bald headed driver wearing jack boots?

louis365 said...

Joni's home in Canada is in the south-west part of British Columbia.She knew where to go - It's the best area in Canada. Manitoba sucks. As do the other two prairie provinces.

I used to live in that area of B.C. Never knew she had a home there. I rode in two great cars, seen a whole slew of great cars out there (there is actually so many wonderful cars out there), but I didn't see a Duesenberg, much less one being driven by a bald headed driver wearing jack boots. Maybe she has a BUGatti.

MrPoirot said...

Poor Joni's daughter she gave up to adoption searches her out and finds her but then realizes Joni isn't worth knowing. Mother and daughter haven't communicated again since 2001. Sheesh!
Joni went to shrinks and what did she find out about herself? She says she found she is an asshole. LOL.

sunset77 said...

I never listened to folk music much, I slightly remember one of Mitchel's songs however. What I remember is her voice sounded much more pleasant than Walter Cronkite and Henry Kissinger prattling on about the "Viet Cong" when she sang Both Sides Now.

beauders said...

Poirot, just curious why do you dislike Joni Mitchell so much?

MrPoirot said...

Heauders read my link above Joni. Try not to slit your wrist afterwards.

Joni never has to worry about being outted by her neglected daughter because Joni
did a "Mommie Dearest" on herself.

A line from her songs:

[quote]They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.[[end quote]

Notice how it says "THEY" not we. Not I. The whole anti humanist game face that enviro-extremists wear just makes me want to hurl due to its' phoniness and lack of truth. Whether its Charlie Manson or John Kerry or Joni Mitchell they're all the same. They despise humanity. They hate America.

louis365 said...

I will gladly throw in that lizard Al Gore.

Lynn said...

If you are doing links- you might want to include Bobby B- I got this in my e-mail this week:
I have just released a new song, an advance single from my forthcoming album Voodoo Shivaya. The song is a 7+ minute version of Bo Diddley's classic romp 'Who Do You Love', long one of my favorite tunes. My rendition is unlike any you've heard before! You can download it from iTunes, or from my store on CD Baby.



Lynn said...

Mr Poirot, regarding Joni's daughter, how do you know that she wasn't the one who broke off communication with Joni?

Not everyone has a positive experience like David Crosby and his son, James Raymond.

It's a difficult situation and experience.

MrPoirot said...

Lynn it was the daughter who broke it off with Joni. Maybe she got offended by Joni not wearing clothes due to her Morgellons Disease. Joni is reclusive it is said.

katie8753 said...

Is Bobby serious? He'd have to pay ME to listen to his cater-waulin'.

sunset77 said...

Sarah McLachlan's version of the song "Angel" can be heard-->HERE.

Apparently, Bobby Beausoleil's version of the song "Angel" can be heard-->HERE.

sunset77 said...

Off topic comment:

It's possible the identity of "Jack the Ripper" has been determined.

Apparently, a Mr. Russell Edwards purchased a shawl in 2007 that belonged to Catherine Eddowes. The shawl was apparently found at the scene of Eddowes murder and was stained with bodily fluids including blood and semen.

Mr. Edwards claims he had an expert perform DNA tests on the samples, and there was a "perfect match" to the descendants of both Eddowes and Aaron Kosminski.

Kosminski was a suspect at the time but there was not enough evidence. Kosminski spent time in mental hospitals including Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum. One of Aleister Crowley's wives did time in the same asylum.

The DNA article can be read-->HERE.