30 Vintage Candid Photos of Rockstars Living in Laurel Canyon

By Sarah Norman | October 26, 2023

John Lennon’s Lost Weekend

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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John Lennon on the Tomorrow Show, 1975. Source: Wikimedia Commons

With artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Jim Morrison in the neighborhood, it didn’t take long for Laurel Canyon to become the epicenter of the music world. Its pull was so heavy that even luminaries like John Lennon found themselves hanging around and causing trouble. Lennon especially got loose in Laurel Canyon, and spent much of his time with fellow songwriting troublemaker Harry Nilsson.

In 1974 John Lennon’s “lost weekend” was catalogued in the pages of the Guardian, and over the course of those two days Lennon allegedly trolled through Laurel Canyon and the surrounding bars with a lady’s sanitary pad tied around his head while he verbally abused artists like the Smothers Brothers. According to the paper Lennon taunted the group during a performance at the Troubadour while the audience told him to shut up.

Lennon took a swing at the Smothers Brothers manager, Ken Fritz, missed and took a lump to the head. Then he threw a glass at Fritz but hit a waitress instead. Lennon was then thrown out of the bar while Nilsson watched. The Guardian ends its write up of the events with the qualifier: “Apparently both men had been drinking quite a bit.”

Glen Frey felt that the Canyon was 'magical'

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source: pinterest

Frey said:

There was just something in the air up there. There’s houses built up on stilts on the hillside and there’s palm trees and yuccas and eucalyptus and vegetation I’d never seen before in my life. It was a little magical hillside canyon.