30 Vintage Candid Photos of Rockstars Living in Laurel Canyon

By Sarah Norman | December 21, 2023

Captain Beefheart used his nose as a flute.

In the 1960s and '70s, folk musicians, psychedelic rockers, country rockers, and pop groups tried to get a little edge flocked to Laurel Canyon. Rock stars, it seemed, had found their Shangri-La, an idyllic world where a group of disparate friends all grew together to become some of the best-known artists of the 20th century. Artists like Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, The Monkees, and Crosby, Stills & Nash all lived within walking distance of one another and would routinely hang out and jam together into the wee hours of the morning. The Laurel Canyon rock star scene was, like the California sound many of them made famous, a mellow affair.

The canyon's twisted, humpbacked roads, dense eucalyptus, and neighborhoods of hidden homes feel like a woodland, country town that's a world away from Los Angeles, but it's somehow only five minutes away from the Sunset Strip. That's what made the area so charming to the Bohemian artists of the Woodstock generation.

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source: youtube

Captain Beefheart, the legendary musician and avant-garde artist, was known for his eccentricities, and one of his most memorable quirks was using his nose as a musical instrument. During performances, he would plug one nostril and blow air through the other, creating a distinctive, flute-like sound. This unusual technique not only added to his mystique but also showcased his boundless creativity in the world of music. Captain Beefheart's nose flute was just one of the many ways he pushed the boundaries of art and music, leaving a lasting legacy of innovation and originality in the music industry.

According to Moon Unite Zappa (Frank's daughter):

I have a nose ring because I was so inspired by Captain Beefheart. [He] came to the house and he had drilled a hole in his nose with a pencil. But he had made his nose into a flute. I was amazed by that.

Everyone Loved Partying with The Monkees

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The Monkees, 1967. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Even though they’re remembered as a TV band, The Monkees were actually an integral part of the Laurel Canyon scene (and they have no less than five excellent tunes). During the band’s meteoric rise, Peter Tork lived with Stephen Stills of CSN, near the home where Monkees drummer Mickey Dolenz lived. Both pads were full-on party houses throughout the height of their fame. According to Dolenz’s ex-wife, a party with Peter Tork meant that everyone was naked, especially Tork.

Dolenz told ABC that parties at his place would start out on a Friday night “as a little cocktail party with some food and then on Monday morning people would still be walking around naked and falling into the pool.”