Laurel Canyon

Series 1 - Episode 2



Success doesn’t always equate to happiness, as we see in the second and concluding half of Alison Ellwood’s brilliantly crafted documentary.

After the euphoria of the mid-60s in this musically fertile hangout, now the comedown. The Canyon cliques were starting to break up. On the Mamas and the Papas splitting, Michelle Phillips recalls, “We were hippies but we were rich hippies. We’d been so innovative, but we had become the establishment.”

Fame altered the whole complexion of this interactive commune. Lowell George of the mighty Little Feat expresses this touchingly in an archive interview: “What is success? It certainly isn’t money. Doing something that you really like doing is success to me.”

Vietnam, civil unrest, the Manson murders and hard drugs destroyed their Garden of Eden, but a “second wave” of musical inspiration helped with the healing. Hippies singing of peace and love may sound corny, but “that’s what had to happen in a war-torn era,” explains Bonnie Raitt. She’s among the huge names (Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Graham Nash…) reflecting sagely on an intoxicating point in pop history.


Part two of two. The concluding part of the film exploring the story of Laurel Canyon and creating intimate portraits of the famed musicians who once lived there.