Synopses & Reviews
This book is a remarkable insider's look at one of the most dramatic, creative, and revolutionary settings in American popular culture: the Los Angeles popular music scene from the late 1960s through the late 1970s.
After the world fell in love with the steady stream of hit records from the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, and Buffalo Springfield in the mid-1960s, the music industry's center of gravity shifted from New York to L.A.'s Laurel Canyon, a bucolic haven for artists and pop-music prodigies minutes from the buzz of the Sunset Strip. Hotel California takes you on an intimate tour of this scene as you read a treasure trove of original material about the musical and personal doings of sixties and seventies singer-songwriters, superstars, and producers. Through insights provided by extraordinarily candid firsthand interviews, author Barney Hoskyns has conducted over more than three decades, Hotel California reveals key moments in the creative and professional lives ofas well as many of the less professional adventures ofthese legends.
Hoskyns delivers fascinating new details about how Joni Mitchell created her otherworldly masterpieces while romancing David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, and others. You'll read things you've never read before about Glenn Frey's narcissism, Linda Ronstadt's intellect, Don Henley's troubled conscience, and more. You'll discover how mega-mogul David Geffen lured handsome young musicians to sign with his new record label and how the Eagles became the biggest band in America. You'll learn about Mama Cass Elliot's perpetual open house and her penchant for trading drugs for sex with good-looking young men and about the major substance abuse problems that plagued the Eagles, David Crosby, and othersproblems that eventually took the lives of such major talents as Jim Morrison and Gram Parsons.
Hotel California is a narrative of rise and fallfrom the hootenanny love-in innocence of talented, fresh-eyed young women and men with acoustic guitars to the coked-out superstardom of mid-70s stadium rock. It tells an epic tale of songs and sunshine; sex, drugs, and denim; genius and greed. Packed with both fascinating anecdotes and sharp insights into the lives and careers of its larger-than-life subjects, this book captures a legendary era of musical discovery, the amazing results of successful creative collaboration, and the much darker side of fame, wealth, and unbridled ambition. You won't be able to put it down.
* In ""Hotel California,"" Barney Hoskyns uses variations on a telling phrase - ""wise (or weary) be-yond their years"" - to explain why the compositions of the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriters of the early to mid-1970s have proved so enduring.
Joni Mitchell; Neil Young; Jackson Browne; James Taylor; ""Tapestry""-era Carole King; Crosby, Stills and Nash their songs really did seem special then and, to a surprising degree, remain so now.
Influenced by the way Bob Dylan's success in the 1960s gave young songwriters permission to say anything they wanted in their lyrics, and created an audience that eagerly awaited such daring writing, they moved toward the intimately confessional. They were uncommonly good at it, often ruefully melancholy, and they scored million-selling hits.
Hoskyns looks at the time and place that spawned the singer-songwriters and their friends and lovers - the counterculture-friendly, surprisingly rustic and (at the time) affordable hillside canyons separating Los Angeles' busy basin and oceanfront communities from its equally busy suburban Valley. Laurel Canyon, especially, but also Topanga Canyon and some others. Some of the book's subjects were born in Southern California and some came from elsewhere; some started writing in California and some brought their established careers with them.
""It was very different from the Tin Pan Alley tradition, where guys would sit down and try to write a hit song and turn out these teen-romance songs about other people,"" Henry Diltz, a photographer friend of the singer-songwriters, is quoted as saying.
The results - Mitchell's ""Ladies of the Canyon"" and ""Both Sides Now,"" Young's ""Old Man"" and ""Heart of Gold,"" Browne's ""For a Dancer,"" Taylor's ""Fire and Rain,"" King's ""It's Too Late"" and many more - constitute a golden era of American songwriting.
It's one that might not come again in terms of quality and cultural impact. And the possibility that it was a peak seems to be dawning on their core audience of aging boomers, as well as publishers. Hoskyns' book follows by just a few weeks another on the same subject, Michael Walker's ""Laurel Canyon.""
This takes its title from a song by one of the biggest acts to emerge from the milieu, the Eagles, who covered material from the singer-songwriters in addition to composing their own. They are not the best examples of the scene's artistry but certainly of its commercial success. Hoskyns uses the term ""rocklite"" to describe their sound.
A British journalist and critic whose previous books about American music include the superb ""Strange Days, Weird Scenes, and the Sound of Los Angeles"" and ""Across the Great Divide: The Band and America,"" Hoskyns is knowledgeable about his subject. He loves delving behind the hits and the superstars to see who else was making valuable music in L.A. during the period.
In doing so, he points out that the canyon's ""organic"" singer-songwriters weren't the only thing happening in L.A., nor was their approach unchallenged by others. As a result, ""Hotel California"" has some lively and intriguing ideas about the shortcomings of confessional songwriting - a preoccupation with self-reflection - that gives the book intellectual weight.
An L.A. singer-songwriter who was a contemporary of the others - Randy Newman - has proven long-lasting precisely because he wasn't confessional, Hoskyns observes. ""Using third-person characters - or singing in character - Randy's songs were suffused by irony, often stunningly funny."" He also has praise for the satirically political work of Frank Zappa, and for the exploration of ""the darker side of the California dream"" pursued by Tim Buckley and Tom Waits.
For that matter, Neil Young had as much of a dark side as an idealistic one, Hoskyns points out - he once recommended that his record label sign an aspiring songwriter named Charles Manson (be-fore the Tate-LaBianca murders).
In their personal lives, the canyon singer-songwriters pract
In the late sixties and early seventies, Los Angeles was a hotbed of musical creativity the home base of Joni Mitchell, the Eagles, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, among many others. Now, drawing on exclusive interviews with many of the leading players, music journalist Barney Hoskyns recreates the excitement, ferment, and energy of those years. We see the genesis of Crosby, Stills, and Nash at Joni Mitchell s house in Laurel Canyon. We see the Eagles implode in backstage fistfights after the success of their huge hit album Hotel California. And we get the real story on David Geffen and the other money men who nurtured, bankrolled and some say corrupted the L.A. music scene. Filled with revealing anecdotes that chronicle the drug-fueled chaos, bed-hopping antics, and enduring musical achievements of the era, Hotel California is a must-read for classic rock fans everywhere.
Barney Hoskyns (London, UK) is a British journalist who has corresponded for New Musical Express from Los Angeles and worked as MOJO s U.S. correspondent. He is the author of several previous books about music and Hollywood.
Hoskyns brings a genuine love as well as an outsider's keen eye to the rise and fall of the California scene. . . . This is a riveting story, sensitively told.
—Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone
From enduring musical achievements to drug-fueled chaos and bed-hopping antics, the L.A. pop music scene in the sixties and seventies was like no other, and journalist Barney Hoskyns re-creates all the excitement and mayhem. Hotel California brings to life the genesis of Crosby, Stills, and Nash at Joni Mitchells house; the Eagles backstage fistfights after the success of ""Hotel California""; the drama of David Geffen and the other money men who transformed the L.A. music scene; and more.
"Comprehensive and lively, Hotel California
offers a front-row seat on the wild ride—fueled by drugs, sex, and lots of cash—that took Southern California singer-songwriters from hot tubs and local bars to sold-out stadiums,private jets, and the bestselling album of all time."
—Alan Light, author of The Skills to Pay the Bills: The Story of the Beastie Boys
"Through hundreds of interviews conducted over the last dozen years, Hoskyns methodically chips away at the era's artifice and ego-driven mythologizing, revealing a creative landscape that was less stardust and golden than it was green with greed and white with cocaine residue."
—Erik Himmelsbach, Los Angeles Times Book Review
This book is a remarkable look at one of the most dramatic, creative, and revolutionary settings in American popular culture: the Los Angeles popular music scene from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Drawing on extraordinarily candid firsthand interviews Barney Hoskyns has conducted over more than three decades, Hotel California takes you on an intimate tour—from the Sunset Strip to Laurel Canyon—of the creative and personal lives of the legendary songwriters, superstars, and producers who made the music that everyone listened to. You'll read things you've never read before about such fascinating, complex people as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Glenn Frey, Mama Cass Elliot, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, David Geffen, and many others. Packed with riveting anecdotes and sharp musical insights, Hotel California captures the amazing results of brilliant creative collaboration and the dark side of fame, wealth, and unbridled ambition. It is a story of rise and fall like none other, and you won't be able to put it down.
Advance praise for Hotel California
A British rock critic obsessed with America, Barney Hoskyns brings a genuine love as well as an outsider's keen eye to the rise and fall of the California scene in the sixties and seventies. This is a riveting story, sensitively told.
--Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone
Comprehensive and lively, Hotel California offers a front-row seat on the wild ride--fueled by drugs, sex, and lots of cash--that took Southern California singer-songwriters from hot tubs and local bars to sold-out stadiums, private jets, and the bestselling album of all time.
--Alan Light, author of The Skills to Pay the Bills: The Story of the Beastie Boys
One of our finest pop historians reappraises a neglected and often maligned milieu. Barney Hoskyns deftly evokes not just the decadence but the sense of discovery rooted in 1960s idealism and fostered by a gaggle of record industry mavericks who, for a brief period, managed to make art and business coexist.
--Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up and Start Again
"Hoskyns brings a genuine love as well as an outsider's keen eye to the rise and fall of the California scene. . . . This is a riveting story, sensitively told."
—Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone
From enduring musical achievements to drug-fueled chaos and bed-hopping antics, the L.A. pop music scene in the sixties and seventies was like no other, and journalist Barney Hoskyns re-creates all the excitement and mayhem. Hotel California brings to life the genesis of Crosby, Stills, and Nash at Joni Mitchell’s house; the Eagles’ backstage fistfights after the success of "Hotel California"; the drama of David Geffen and the other money men who transformed the L.A. music scene; and more.
About the Author
British journalist Barney Hoskyns has spent much of his professional life in Los Angeles as a correspondent for England's New Musical Express and Mojo. He has contributed to Rolling Stone, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Interview, British Vogue, and Spin. His other books include Across the Great Divide: The Band and America and Led Zeppelin IV. He is the cofounder and editorial director of the acclaimed online library Rock's Backpages at www.rocksbackpages.com.
Table of Contents
1 Expecting to Fly 1
2 Back to the Garden 19
3 New Kids in Town 35
4 Horses, Kids, and Forgotten Women 55
5 Escape from Sin City 77
6 A Case of Me 99
7 With a Little Help from Our Friends 127
8 The Machinery vs. the Popular Song 187
9 After the Thrill Is Gone 217
10 Go Your Own Way 245
Coda: Like a Setting Sun 267
Suggested Reading 303
Photographs follow page 158