Cover Art Mistakes, Broken Hearts & More: 'Songs From The Canyon' Explores Music Icons

23 August 2022 | 10:35 am | Rick Chazan

“Anybody that can clear a room that quick, I’ve got to sign.”

Featuring an all-star cast of Husky Gawenda, Dan Kelly, Charm Of Finches, Hannah Cameron, Stephen Grady and Dan Challis, Chapel Off Chapel event Songs From The Canyon this September will transport punters back to the Laurel Canyon of the ‘60s and ‘70s. 

The neighbourhood in the Hollywood Hills was home to some of the greatest: The Doors, Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Mamas & The Papas, all living within a few streets of each other in a ramshackle neighbourhood; it was a rich music community and a lot of great songs and even better stories came out of the time.

The shows, taking place from September 1-4, will touch on many of the songs, how they came to be, and the relationships that were formed at the time. In anticipation of the event, artist manager Rick Chazan, who put the event together, takes us through some of the songs and stories fans can expect to hear.

California Dreaming by The Mamas & The Papas

John and Michelle Phillips were living in New York. Michelle wanted to move to California for the sunshine but John wouldn’t have a bar of it. New York was where the business was, Greenwich Village, Bob Dylan... a couple of weeks later John woke up in the middle of the night with a half-written song in his head. They stayed up all night and finished the song - California Dreaming. "All the leaves are brown / And the sky is grey / I've been for a walk on a winter's day / I'd be safe and warm if I was in LA."

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Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell were in love and living in Joni’s beautiful ramshackle house in Laurel Canyon. One day they were shopping at the Canyon Store and they bought a vase. That night Nash, while sitting at the piano yelled out to Joni, “I’ll light the fire and you’ll place the flowers in the vase that you bought today,” and the opening lyrics of Our House were born.

Love Street House by The Doors

The song was written by Jim Morrison about this street off Laurel Canyon Boulevard where he lived with girlfriend Pamela Courson. They referred to Rothdell Trail as Love Street as they would sit on the balcony and watch numerous hippies walk by.

Zappa signing Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper was playing a big party in LA with The Doors and Buffalo Springfield. Alice Cooper came on last because they were the house band and scared the hell out of the audience. They couldn’t get out of the room fast enough, there were only three left standing including Alice’s manager, a GTO and Frank Zappa. Frank said, “Anybody that can clear a room that quick, I’ve got to sign.”

On David Crosby leaving The Byrds

When David Crosby was kicked out of The Byrds, it was suspected it was because he couldn’t get his songs played in the band. But in an interview, Crosby set the record straight when said, “No, it was because I was an asshole."

Crosby Stills Nash album cover

They got the perfect photo for the album cover with the iconic shot of them sitting on an old beaten-up couch outside a weatherboard. When they realised that they were sitting in the order of Nash Stills Crosby, they went back the next day to recreate the photo but sitting in the order of Crosby Stills Nash. But when they arrived it turned out that the house had just been demolished and that is why they are sitting in the wrong order.

The Tangled web of The Mamas & The Papas

Cass loved Denny but Denny loved Michelle. Michelle was married to John but she had an affair with Denny, breaking not only John’s heart but Cass’ too.

For more details on 'Songs From The Canyon', click here.