Thursday, January 9, 2020

Laurel Canyon


Truman Capote
Truman Capote's Black and White Ball in 
1966 was the most famous party of all time. Among the 500 guests were Richard Avedon, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Noël Coward, Mia Farrow, Henry Fonda, Philip Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, Harper Lee, Jack Lemmon, Alan Jay Lerner, Shirley MacLaine, Norman Mailer, Mike Nichols, Gregory Peck, George Plimpton, Lee Radziwill, Philip Roth, Frank Sinatra, John Steinbeck, Andy Warhol, Tennessee Williams. It was like one of Gatsby's parties. So much anticipation went into Capote's planning that by the time the soiree arrived, it didn't matter anymore. They say that Truman made 500 friends and 15,000 enemies. Conversely, in L.A. fabulous parties, from The Beatles at Benedict Canyon to The VU at the Castle, went relatively unnoticed. 

Peter Tork
In 1967, Lee Hazelwood, famous Hollywood manager and artist in his own right, threw the Bee Gees a party for their Hollywood shows. All of the beautiful people were there: The Bee Gees (of course), Ann Moses from Tiger Beat Magazine, Tommy Smothers, Buddy Rich, Angela Cartwright (Lost in Space, Sound of Music) who was only 17, Rodney Bingenheimer, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and others. Not quite Truman's guest list, but ever more fascinating. 


Mickey Dolenz

No one truly recalls Tiny Tim's impact, yet the falsetto singer performed his first concert in Hollywood in the Summer of 1968 and 93KHJ invited tons of insiders to the after-party. Anyone who was anyone in the late 60s Hollywood scene attended, including Sajid Khan, George Takei and Walter Koenig from Star Trek, Don Steele, Andy Prine, Brenda Scott, Sally Field, Jimmy Webb, Peter Tork, Desi Arnez Jr, Dennis and Carl Wilson, and Annie Hinsche. 

Dino Martin, the first son of legendary crooner Dean Martin, and band member of Dino, Desi and Billy, turned 16 in February 1968. Of course his father had to throw him a spectacular party. All of the young music/Hollywood crowd, the rat pack crowd, everyone: Desi Arnez Jr. and Billy Hinsche, Dean Martin, Davy Jones (Deana Martin's date), Stuart Whiting, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra and his wife, Mia Farrow, Tina Sinatra and Lucille Ball. After Dino's party, John and Michelle Phillips threw an after-party which was decidedly more hip than Dino's birthday. Many from Dean’s soiree were there in addition to Judy Collins, Donovan, Tommy Boyce, the Monkees, The Hollies, Eric Burdon and the Animals, The Who, and the Association all showed up and got really really high. Of course. 


Mike Nesmith rarely threw parties; the exception was a celebration of the release of his first solo LP, Wichita Train Whistle Songs. The guest list included the other Monkees, Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Stan Kenton, Bert Schneider, Bob Rafelson, Jack Nicholson and Bobby Darin. 

New York had Truman Capote who obsessed over his one big affair. Hollywood conversely had Peter Tork, whose parties were infamous. A 1968 event was reported in Tiger Beat magazine. The guest list included the other Monkee party animal, Micky Dolenz, Samantha Juste, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Jimi Hendrix. The most famous was the July 4th shebang that Peter threw for Harvey Brooks of the Electric Flag. Guests included The Who, Mama Cass and John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful.  Yet throughout 1967 and '68 it was as if the parties at Peter's were but a stream of people in and out. Jackson Browne hung out at Tork's house during 1968: "These beautiful chicks from Peter Tork's house kept coming over with these big bowls of fruit and dope and shit. They'd fuck us in the pool. We'd wake up and see this beautiful sixteen year old flower child who knew how to say ‘fave rave’ with a bowl of fruit. She'd get you incredibly high and then take you downstairs to go swimming." Doug Trevor, of the Australian group, The Cherokees, also remembers Tork's house: "There were stoned hippies laying all over the place, naked girls wandering in and out of the pool and the constant noise of Peter rehearsing his new band Release somewhere downstairs. Barry McGuire ['Eve of Destruction'] and his chick were living in an old VW Combi in the back yard. Peter found a room for me in the attic and the first night I tried to sleep in it I was kept awake by this loud drunk roaring in the kitchen all night. They told me in the morning that it was Jim Morrison."