To many, the 1960s and ’70s are considered the golden age of rock music.
And much of it emanated from the bungalows and log cabins of Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, where up-and-coming artists found cheap rents and a creative environment to work and play in.
Now, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles is taking visitors on a trip through the sights and sounds of the Canyon, with its show entitled ‘California Dreamin’: The Sounds of Laurel Canyon 1965-1977’.
“This exhibit is interesting because we had the co-operation of many artists who are still in the Los Angeles area,” says the museum’s executive director, Bob Santelli.
“So you are going to see the guitars of Frank Zappa, you’re going to see Mama Cass Elliot’s rocking chair, you’re going to see lyrics by Jim Morrison, you’re going to see John Sebastian’s autoharp, so lots of objects and artefacts, lots of multi-media. So, we have incredible photographs, from maybe one of the best photographers ever to document Los Angeles, Henry Diltz.”
Henry Diltz was once the official photographer of the Woodstock Festival and made photos for more than 80 record album covers. His pictures provide a unique insight into the ’60s and ’70s music scene.
The canyon’s unpaved streets created a rural feel compared to Hollywood’s Sunset Strip down below. A large number of artists called it their home, including Jim Morrison of The Doors, Joni Mitchell, The Mamas & the Papas, the Eagles, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Harvey Kubernik, who has been writing about the music scene for over 40 years, believes the easy-going atmosphere of Laurel Canyon provided an ideal environment for artists: “It was a rural existence but in a very pavement city-type place.”
“And it led to creativity, it led to freedom at the time. And it led to a very organic situation where musicians – some of them that were in from California who came West – found a lot of freedom to create and live and to renew their lives.”
‘California Dreamin’: The Sounds of Laurel Canyon 1965-1977’ runs at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles until the end of November.