Doors Examiner Review: Canyon of Dreams

Jim Morrison's House in Laurel Canyon
Jim Morrison's House in Laurel Canyon

Canyon of Dreams” by Harvey Kubernick came out this Tuesday, Oct 6th. It’s a history of Laurel Canyon and its residents from the very beginnings of Hollywood, when the Canyon was a remote hideaway for stars at such hotels as The Garden of Allah, opened by one of Rudolph Valentino’s wives. The book proves that sex and drugs and wild times existed before Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The book primarily details the stories of the famous residents of the Laurel Canyon, and The Doors had an early presence. In his foreword, Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek recounts his first experience in the canyon with Dick Bock, Pacific Coast Records owner, who signed and recorded Manzarek’s first band, Rick and The Ravens. Bock also recommended to Ray the Maharishi’s yoga class where he met John Densmore and Robby Krieger which rounded out the final lineup of The Doors.

Canyon of Dreams Cover

There are a couple of first glimpses at native Los Angelites, with the underage John Densmore getting into a jazz club with a fake ID he procured in Tijuana and spending nights listening and watching the jazz musicians, and a glimpse of Robby Krieger playing under his name at Club Lingerie.

The book is divided into easy-reading chapters, each with a resident of the canyon relating anecdotes about the time in which he lived in Laurel Canyon. The book is further divided into very readable subchapters, one of which is about The Doors. Robby and John were the first to move there, then Jim Morrison came along. Morrison liked to watch the denizens of the Canyon and immortalized them in the song “Love Street”. John had dinner parties followed by games of pool and Robby seems to have been a big part of the scene when he lived there. Krieger perhaps offers a reason why Frank Zappa may have had the animus towards The Doors he had in later years. It seems that Frank wanted to produce The Doors but they considered him “a weirdo” (Robby’s quote), and The Doors didn’t think it would work out.

Henry Diltz, who took the pictures for The Doors’ “Morrison Hotel” album, plays a major role in the narrative, describing how he went from member of a folk band to rock photographer.

This is a great book on the history of Laurel Canyon. It’s formatted in a scrapbook style loaded with pictures and paraphernalia of the times, and I urge anybody who’s interested whether they’re a Doors fan or not to get the book. There’s something in there for anybody who’s interested in rock history, or jazz history, or someone who’s just looking to get a feel for the place. If you would like to read a full review of “Canyon of Dreams” I’ve posted one on Amazon.

Originally published October 10, 2009.

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