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Echo in the Canyon

“Echo In The Canyon” was a decent attempt at telling the story of Laurel Canyon’s history in the California Sound back in the day. 

It did look like the director Andrew Slater and star/executive producer Jakob Dylan went shopping on a list of contacts from their Rolodexes.

This worked well for some of the contacts such as Dave Crosby, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn, Michele Philips, but to bring up The Beatles and Ringo specifically was a stretch when Joni Mitchell, The Doors or LOVE’s Johnny Echols could have been introduced as they have a more solid standing in the history of Laurel Canyon. Singer Jackson Brown also made an appearance as well as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.

I spent a lot of time hanging around Laurel Canyon back in the day and walked it, hitch hiked it and hung out. I went to a lot of parties on the Canyon and, believe me, The Beatles and Ringo were not music figures that would translate into Laurel Canyon history for creating a large part of the California Sound. They were more like Laurel Canyon adjacent.

I have read that the main reason for leaving LOVE/Johnny Echols out of the film is because they were too obscure of a band to factor in as well as there were just too many stories to include them all. I’ll buy into the volume of info, but not the obscurity of LOVE/Johnny Echols. And what about Joni mitchell? She is a much bigger place holder in the sound of Laurel Canyon than Ringo is or was. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Ringo, but not as a creator of the Laurel Canyon/California Sound.

The Doors also played a huge role in the mystique of Laurel Canyon and I’ve heard many stories from neighbors telling me how the droaning of Ray Manzarik’s organ used to drive them crazy. The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison had a home by the Country Store whose street was renamed “Love Street” in 2018 at The Love Fest, which is held annually on Laurel Canyon. This was no small feat to accomplish and would have taken an action by the Los Angeles City Council which would involve a great deal of effort. For those of you that don’t know, “Love Street” is a song that The Doors made famous. There’s a line out of “Love Street” that goes “ I see you live on Love Street. There’s this store where creatures meet. I wonder what they do in there.” The store refers to the Country Store.

Granted, it was nice to hear the songs from back in the day performed by talent from Andrew Slater’s client list and see David Crosby being interviewed and being very candid about his relationship with his former band mates. To me, it seemed like he was trying to make amends for his horrible behavior of the past,  forge a new artistic/creative bond, and leave the door open for a reunion of some sort. Wouldn’t it be cool if that could be done right here in the San Fernando Valley?

Up until July 3, I had not seen David Crosby live since we filmed “The Big T.N.T Show” in 1965. This segment would be edited as a Byrds video and would find its way to the UK where people saw me and let me know what music producer Phil Spector had done. I was also on the back cover of “The Big T.N.T. Show” video case. My full screen appearance comes toward the end of “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

It was great to see Crosby live for the first time in 54 years and he sounded fantastic. He was partnered with famous axman Waddy Wachtel, notably from the Expensive Winos and Stevie Nicks.

Aside from the concert that was also titled “Echo In The Canyon” there wasn’t really any music. I will not mention the names of those performers in protest for leaving out so much of Laurel Canyons’ famous faces.

Jakob Dylan is the son of Folk-Rock singer and composer Bob Dylan who does have a past with Ringo.  Jakob Dylan’s performances and interviewing skills were acceptable and I did enjoy them.

Getting back to who was left out of the film’s perview, artist manager Elliot Roberts, who ran Lookout Mgt., and whose first client was Joni Mitchell and as a manager spoke to Neil Young daily, guiding his career through good and bad. In addition, working with David Geffen, a record deal was secured for Crosby, Stills and Nash. Stephen Stills described Roberts as the kindest, gentlest and funniest and Crosby described Roberts being “A cat like us.” In addition, he managed Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. So why no mention of this guy who helped forge careers for much of the California Sound?

Instead, we get a lot of Jakob Dylan chatting with other talent from the concert talking about the music with stacks of vinyl LPs and inserts of the final product…a concert at the Charleston Music Hall marketed as “Echo In The Canyon.” The thing wasn’t even filmed or performed in L.A. let alone anywhere near Laurel Canyon.

We could have done without the client list that was used by Slater and Jakob Dylan’s contact list.

My time on Laurel Canyon was spent staying at industry people’s homes and learning the ropes from them. They were television executives, record company executives and film executives. It was at one of these parties I was asked to dance, to show director Henry Saperstein my “talent” and cast for “The Big T.N.T. Show.” I was always more than happy to dance for any of those executives even if I was only 14/15 years old during this time. It did get me onto shows to dance.

It was really great that “Echo In The Canyon” did interview Tom Petty and Michelle Phillips from The Mamas and The Papas who had some great stories to tell. Phillips is still beautiful and she also sang at The Love Fest in 2018.

Petty was talking about Roger McGuinn’s Rickenbacker guitar and how it developed the sound of The Byrds which McGuinn had developed as an answer to The Beatles. Weak connection at best.

Phillips spoke about the song “Go Where You Wanna Go” and the story behind it. Apparently she was having an affair with someone and John Phillips found out about it and wrote the song.

Had they followed Tina Malave’s lead when she wrote, directed, produced and hosted “Eye on L.A.’s” “The Legends of Laurel Canyon” in 2012 which still stands up to scrutiny…. The viewing party of that episode read like a who’s who of the Laurel Canyon scene that included media consultant Eliott Mintz who lived on Laurel Canyon at one time. Malave described this segment as “a work of love” at 2018’s Love Fest.

At the end of the day does “Echo In The Canyon” stand up to scrutiny? In a way yes, but is by no means a definitive work that will cover the essence that was Laurel Canyon. It’s not even a seminal piece of work. It’s a nice film that covers a tiny slice of the magic that was Laurel Canyon at the time.

Caroline McElroy

Author: Caroline McElroy

The muse struck at a young age and began with Ernie’s Record Shop on Lankershim Blvd. In North Hollywood where I purchased my first Beatle record “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and a record by Major Lance titled “Um,Um,Um,Um,Um,Um”. From there I saw the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl and I was hooked…on Rock N’ Roll. At the age of 13 it seems as if the magical world of Rock N’ Roll opened up and welcomed me. A trip to Indio with Frank Zappa and possee, and subsequent gigs as a dancer at The Teen Fairs at the Hollywood Palladium sealed the deal. As a trained journalist, I’ve written for magazines, newsletters,newspapers and blogs. In addition, I have run a nightclub by the name of The Cave. Music is the thread that weaves a patchwork quilt of genres, venues and experience out of my life and in the process have introduced many fine acts to my followers. For the rest of my story dear readers, read my articles and it will unfold like the petals of a lotus flower. Sometimes you’ve gotta wear the hat to remind people who they are dealing with. LOL

Caroline McElroyhttps://carolinemcelroy.wordpress.com/
The muse struck at a young age and began with Ernie’s Record Shop on Lankershim Blvd. In North Hollywood where I purchased my first Beatle record “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and a record by Major Lance titled “Um,Um,Um,Um,Um,Um”. From there I saw the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl and I was hooked…on Rock N’ Roll. At the age of 13 it seems as if the magical world of Rock N’ Roll opened up and welcomed me. A trip to Indio with Frank Zappa and possee, and subsequent gigs as a dancer at The Teen Fairs at the Hollywood Palladium sealed the deal. As a trained journalist, I’ve written for magazines, newsletters,newspapers and blogs. In addition, I have run a nightclub by the name of The Cave. Music is the thread that weaves a patchwork quilt of genres, venues and experience out of my life and in the process have introduced many fine acts to my followers. For the rest of my story dear readers, read my articles and it will unfold like the petals of a lotus flower. Sometimes you’ve gotta wear the hat to remind people who they are dealing with. LOL

4 COMMENTS

  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet but Im glad to get your perspective because now it will be a small screen watch and not a big screen must see.

    I was NOT there but even I know Joni and the Doors were huge to the history of that scene.

    Another great article!

  2. Thank you for the support Michele Coombe. I recently heard from a friend that Johnny Echols refused to take the call when they called to do an interview. He was supposed to have said this during his Love…Revisted show on June 2. I sure didn’t hear it.
    I sure don’t get the omissions.

  3. i posted a comment on the Yardbirds/Catalina article. then i read this one, echo in the canyon. i didn’t get up into laurel canyon to hang out, but some of the things you mention i relate to.

    david crosby, roger mcguinn. Love. around that time, specifically late 1964, i hung out at vitos sculpture studio when i was 15, until my dad secretly tape recorded my phone calls and turned me into the police who put me in central juvenile hall because i wouldn’t tell them names of people they thought gave me weed.

    after that, after i got out, i dropped by vitos once in a while, but was scared i would get them in trouble so i stayed away until the end of ’66, someone told us their little boy had died and we went over there to just be with them.

    they threw an 18th birthday party for me in the parking lot of Canters on Fairfax in April of 67, to celebrate freedom from insanity, lots of people i didn’t know were there. i didn’t stay long. vito was influential in my life at 15, most other adults were so weird, my dad and i suffered a massive generation gap.

    i didn’t know it at the time but i learned it from the internet that during the time i was hanging out there, vito loaned his downstairs sculpture studio to the byrds when they were first getting started, before they had a studio, and michael clark didn’t have a drum kit there, he beat on some stacks of something down there when they rehearsed. i’ve seen that reported in a few sources. it was at the brief time i was hanging out there, but i wouldn’t have known who they were, they weren’t known then, though they would be in a few months. i read that Vito help them get an early gig at Ciro’s around that time.

    Vito also donated studio time in his basement to the Love and Frank Zappa/mothers worked down there and were friends with vito. if i crossed paths with any of them, i didn’t know it. there were a lot of cool people coming and going and hanging out there.

    when i was still going there, we went dancing at Ciros at night. i googled that and all could find about Ciros was that it opened in 65, but we were dancing there in late 64, november and december, it wasn’t 65 because by then i was penned down like a butterfly about to be chloroformed and i couldn’t go out, i wasn’t even allowed to go to school at first.

    i got a probation officer and she offered and i happily agreed for her to put me in a foster home, so i moved to canoga park and went to canoga in 1965. but ciro’s was open for dancing in late 64.

    after dancing we went to Ben Franks 24/7 coffee shop on sunset for coffee and talked politics and art and stuff like that, that’s why i loved vito, he treated me and my friends like humans, interested in our thoughts, he saw the country as having problems with repression, and he wanted young people to be aware and not unconsciously succumb to it. there was weed around vitos but vito didn’t use anything, he thought if people did drugs/alcohol, they would be sucked into passivity and would lose their creativity and freedom.

    carl franzoni lived in the apartment nextdoor to vitos, and they were some kind of partners. when i later googled those days to find out historical detail, i saw a couple of sources that said vito and his friends lived in Laurel Canyon. i don’t think they did. They lived on Laurel Ave by the corner of Laurel and Beverly Blvd. and they were still there in 1967 when they threw my birthday party around the corner on Fairfax.

    Vito was into creating music and was friends with people who lived in Laurel Canyon and hung out there, but he didn’t give up his apartment and sculpture studio on Laurel Ave down off Beverly Bl. maybe you would know about that.

    i wonder if you crossed paths with Carl. he was a dancer and toured as a dancer with some accompanying girls (that’s how it was described in web sources i found) and danced at Byrds concerts, i think, and went on tour dancing with the Mothers, including in England.

    Vito, i guess it’s fair to say he was the original hippy and those people, us, were ground zero of the hippies. Vito coined the term “freaks” to refer to us, that’s how the straight people saw us, as freaks, people with long hair and unique clothes and vito used the word proudly. Hungry Freaks Daddy is dedicated to Carl on the Mothers Freak Out album, in the liner notes.

    i went to a few teen fairs, loved teen fairs. they weren’t all at the palladium. they grew bigger, am i remembering that right?

    i was from North Hollywood, my first home, we lived by Oxnard and Laurel Canyon, on Tiara St, near the frosty freeze on the corner. i went to Monlux and Burbank Blvd. Then we moved to Van Nuys when i was 10. my parents got the house that i live in now. Sight and Sound is long gone though.

    after i graduated high school june 67, i went to the summer of love in haight ashbury. it’s been interesting

    those were some times. i enjoy reading about your experiences.

  4. Hello Judy. Nice to hear from you. Some of the things you said sound like my experiences at Vito’s studio when I was 13. And yes the Byrds did hang there…another odd coincidence? I grew up in North Hollywood at Oxnard and Tujunga and moved backed to NoHo in 2010. It appears you are a bit older than I, but we have some shared experiences for certain. I went to Van Nuys High School, Walter Reed Junior HS and Oxnard Street ES. I went to Indio with Zappa, Carl, Vito and Sue when I was 13 and the rest is history. Big impact upon my life. Lucky for me my mother was so happy to be rid of me that she was oblivious to what was going on in that scene.

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