Who Was Eden Ahbez? The First Hippie's Strange Biography

By Jacob Shelton
Eden ahbez on the cover of his 1960 album, 'Eden's Island.' Source: Apple Music

In the 1940s, eden ahbez's look of long hair, beard, sandals, and flowing garments wasn't common. Nor was his back-to-earth lifestyle -- he was a hippie before the word existed. When Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" was released in 1948 it was credited to eden ahbez. Anyone looking at the seven inch single from Capitol might have thought that there was a spelling error on the label, but everything aside from the capitalization was on the money. Aside from penning this monster of a number one single, ahbez was as far away from being an industry type as one can be.

In the 1940s he was living a life that hippies emulated 20 years later. He grew his hair long, he slept under the stars (allegedly beneath the L in the Hollywood sign), and he was a raw vegan who subsisted on $3 a week. Known as eden ahbez, he didn't believe that he deserved to have capital letters in his name, this early hippie and songwriting legend is one of the more mythological pop culture outliers, and his real story is impossible to untangle from his legend.