30 Vintage Candid Photos of Rockstars Living in Laurel Canyon
By Sarah Norman | August 8, 2023
Everyone Thinks They Introduced Crosby, Stills & Nash
In the 1960s and ‘70s, folk musicians, psychedelic rockers, country rockers, and pop groups trying 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 feels 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.
When looking into the stories of Laurel Canyon in the ‘60s there are two things that are apparent: everyone was high, and everyone thinks it was their idea to get Crosby, Stills & Nash together. In 1967 David Crosby was producing Joni Mitchell’s first album, and Stephen Stills was hanging around quite a bit, as was Graham Nash, so the guys could have gotten together any time, however a few key people are pretty sure that they made the magic happen.
Joni Mitchell told Vanity Fair:
I had met Graham Nash in Ottawa and then re-met him in California. David was producing my first album, and all these people were here. . . . I do believe I introduced them at my house; that’s where Crosby, Stills & Nash was born.
Stephen Stills says that it was actually Mama Cass who put the group together. He says that he ran into her one night at the Troubadour and she told him “When David [Crosby] calls you to come over to my house with your guitar, don’t ask—just do it.” Well, the call came and he popped over to Cass’s house. He continued, “I can see it now—the living room, the dining room, the pool, the kitchen—and we’re in the living room and there’s Graham Nash. Then Cass goes, ‘So sing.’ And we sang ‘In the morning, when you rise…’”
What does Graham Nash have to say? “Stephen’s completely out of his mind. I remember it clearly and so does David. It was not at Mama Cass’s. We did sing at Cass’s. But not the very first time.” Well that clears things up.
The Country Store was where Laurel Canyon came together
Everybody's got to eat, including rock stars. For those folks who lived in Laurel Canyon the one place to pick up groceries, share ideas, or just grab a drink (or all three) was the Canyon Country store. The patio to the store was the site of many of a jam session for those living in the neighborhood, and it was also the unfortunate place where Jim Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson's insane knock down drag out fights.