The Big Laurel Canyon Conspiracy

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, right? How about one that exposes Frank Zappa (among others) as being part of a huge undercover operation run by The Military-Industrial Complex™, the goal of which was to infiltrate, and subsequently neutralize the “hippie movement”? Oh yeah!

And so it goes as one scrolls through the roster of Laurel Canyon superstars. What one finds, far more often than not, are the sons and daughters of the military/intelligence complex and the sons and daughters of extreme wealth and privilege – and oftentimes, you’ll find both rolled into one convenient package. […] You might also encounter some former mental patients, such as James Taylor, who spent time in two different mental institutions in Massachusetts before hitting the Laurel Canyon scene, or Larry “Wild Man” Fischer, who was institutionalized repeatedly during his teen years, once for attacking his mother with a knife (an act that was gleefully mocked by Zappa on the cover of Fischer’s first album). Finally, you might find the offspring of an organized crime figure, like Warren Zevon, the son of William “Stumpy” Zevon, a lieutenant for infamous LA crimelord Mickey Cohen.

There’s more, if by now you’re having a craving.

(Thx Kevin)

26 thoughts on “The Big Laurel Canyon Conspiracy”

  1. Mmh… What’s the point of the article? The Laurel Canyon guys were baby boomers born in the middle forties and early fifties; correct me if i’m wrong, but i think a lot of (adult) people were making a living with the war, in one way or another at the time. Can you blame their sons and daughters for that?
    Another thing i’m dubious about: Frank Zappa, a pro-war control freak? Control freak, maybe, but i’ve never read he was “pro war”…

  2. For what it’s worth, Morrison had scant relations with his father once he moved out… he was an aspiring “artist” and very sensitive, the household was quite abusive (verbally) and he considered his adolscence with them to be quite traumatic. In interviews he claimed that his parents were dead (the perfect cover I bet!)

    Also, the reason why they all lived in Laurel Canyon had to do with their fan base- you see, back then people made their money from live performances… Zappa in Nashville???

  3. An astrologer friend of mine sent me this clipping, and I suspect she believes it.

    I guess she never listened to “Dumb All Over.” No, I know she never did.

  4. From Plastic People, Absolutely Free, track one, side one:

    “And there’s this guy from the CIA and he’s creeping around Laurel Canyon . . .”

    The cover photo for Absolutely Free was taken by Alice Ochs, wife of ‘radical protest singer’ Phil Ochs. Phil is mentioned in Part III of the article as providing a possible clue to the workings of the supposed conspiracy – the induced split personality.

    Spooky, huh?

  5. Hokum. Complete hokum. “The Big Laurel Canyon Conspiracy” is little more than a weak attempt to paint the 60s counterculture as the opposite of what they actually were: anti-authority, anti-war, pro-peace, and pro-individual rights and pro-personal social/sexual liberation. I may not always agree with their methods or their outcomes, but they made a difference in the history of 20th century music.

    Frank Zappa being “pro-war”?


  6. Tsk. Tsk. Remember what Uncle Frankie said:

    Information is not knowledge.

  7. Well, Urban, just try knowledge. That’s about facts. However that’s not enough as we actually know quite a lot thanks to the 3 books on the 3 successive periods of FZ’s life, published in France, thus in french a couple of years ago. Barry: for sale in the Fnac in Lille.

    Now better : analysis. Try to decode the scores.

  8. If cannot tell you are being sold a load of crap from the very first whiff, then you are already in deep doo-doo.

  9. Which doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be ineterested to read, especially if one imagines that it was pseudonymously written by Pynchon or Bobby Fischer.

  10. Thanks for posting this, Barry. I got the chance to use three of my favorite words: hokum, crap, and doo-doo.

  11. In the words of a certain African American legend of the drums:

    “Those who know not that they know not are fools…avoid them”

    Hokum you say? Is that what you feel, or is that what you know?

    Is it just a coincidence that all these children of military industrial devils (and high ranking devils at that, dedicated to Satan’s agenda on the highest order) all lived in the Laurel Canyon area, all (literally) making the same scene that begat (among other things) a few gruesome deaths or two involving a certain “Family?” (I’m thinking of Charlie’s, but I might as well be thinking CIA.)

    Statistically, what are the chances of that?

    Because (Paul) LA is a big place, and indeed, one could have made the scene and made the money in LA without living on Laurel Canyon.


    The notion that LA was the*only* place “they” (a bunch of innocent peace and freedom loving musical artist types who hated war and all things connected to it) could have plied their trade is also dubious.

    Seems like there was a pretty good fan base in NYC, or London or Germany for that matter.

    But Zappa didn’t much care for “Art” and he cared even less for the “art life style.” At least that is what he said time and time again. (Did he always tell the truth?)

    And so if he didn’t like or want to live “the Art life style” what “lifestyle” exactly did he want to live? What is the alternative, and what are the demands of that “non art” lifestyle?

    I’m also not entirely convinced that “A lot of people were making a living with the war” absolves anyone (FZ included) from further scrutiny. When you consider FZ’s father-in-law’s vocation and connections (let alone his own father, let alone GZ’s) maybe the article isn’t as flimsy as we all want it to be.

    Lastly, “talk is cheap.” What business person in their right mind (at that time, in that industry) would have come out *for* the war? Hard though this may be to hear, there have been times in the last 100 years when business people have told lies to further their business agenda.

  12. Back in the 1980s, the U.S. Cruise Missile’s guidance system was tested in Cold Lake, Alberta (my own backyard). Two relatives of mine, at the time, worked in both the Federal Government and the Canadian military at Cold Lake. Using the same logic found in “The Big Laurel Canyon Conspiracy” does that now make me pro-war in Iraq?


  13. Re:a fan base in NYC, check out Jim Black’s comments on “…if we’d all been living in California…”, not to mention that down on the Sunset Strip is where these bands first started and culled their followings, while there, they made friends with them and the other artists… they all got together in LC which was cheaper than NYC (and much warmer, if that was a factor)…

    Zappa did live for a period in NY though, he described it as pretty cramped quarters and I believe he had some trouble with the police (“Cops and Buns”) and the private residences. There was also a rivalry with the Velvet Underground which, may or may not have contributed to Zappa alienating a lot of the more arty type… though I hear his anti-drug policies also alienated him from The Greatful Dead…

    I doubt Germany or London would have been an option due to immigration issues… not counting his “Holiday in Berlin” and the subsequent banning of the Royal Albert Hall in the early 70’s, probably gives some indication of how the straight community would have received his desires to emigrate…

    That being said, it’s all conjecture… Zappa lived and died in California, he must have loved it there. The reason why he and they all lived in Laurel Canyon had to do with staying close to the local clubs by which they were a staple (thanks to Herb Cohen’s contacts) and had the base of their following.

    Remember, The Mothers were part of an overall musical movement that exploded out of LA at the time (1964-68) and during those early years (well up to ’67-8) Frank was working tirelessly to foster and ingrain this community that he dubbed Freaks- this included anthropological statements (Freak manifestos like on “Freak Out!”), offering and helping to produce and record local and emerging acts (the most prominent being The Doors who rejected his offer) and even sending out press releases/band statements in the free-press about where the group stood re:drugs and politics.

    It seems that once the Freak movement caught on and became the mass controlled Hippie movement, Frank washed his hands of the whole thing and distanced himself from the peace movement, claiming that the Freaks were squashed by police brutality. It wasnt really that he was against the Hippie’s goals, he just distrusted comformity and substance abuse- “We’re Only in It For the Money” pretty much sums up that opinion, anti-authoritarian, while snide about the irresponsibility of putting flowers in the butts of rifles.

    If Frank was a pawn of the gov.t, why would he have come out so vocal against it and its ‘tendacies/policies’ in ’85? This is around the same time that he warned the public on CSpan that the US was turning into a Fascist Theocracy- who, in power, would that serve? Not to mention certain passages from his autobiography which come off more distrustful and derisive against the Military Industrial Complex than anything the LCC theorist would come up with.

  14. Urban–thou doth protest too much 😉

    Paul–The things you say that are true are, well, true. The things you say that you think are true, well, they might be true, or it might (as you say) be conjecture, which is to say, maybe not true. Like this:

    “That being said, it’s all conjecture… Zappa lived and died in California, he must have loved it there.”

    It is absolutely conjecture that he loved it there, if not entirely flat out false…and if I’m not entirely mistaken, there is more than one interview where he complains about Los Angeles as being a place where he (FZ) can’t go out to dinner, and that the only reason why he was in LA was because “that’s the only place where he could get his gear fixed.”

    Local clubs? When did Frank quit playing clubs in LA? And what difference did it make where they were in relation to where he lived? It wasn’t like he had to ride his bike or take public transportation to the gigs. No, someone else drove him in his Rolls Royce.

    If I had a Rolls Royce that someone else drove for me, I would want to play clubs as far as way from my home as I could. Wouldn’t you?

    It also seems to me that as the 60’s wound down, Frank quickly stopped trying to foster anything other than his own career. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but certainly by the time the 80’s rolled around, concern for “others” let alone emerging acts and community and scene and all that other crap was a thing of the distant past.

    If Frank was a pawn of the gov’t the reason why he would have come out so vocal against it and its “tendacies/policies in 1985” could simply have been to make the divide/animosity between group A and group B all the more heated and “binary” and easy to “track.”

    It could also be that all the “porn war” hoopla was a side show to distract “us” from far more repellent maneuvers going on at the time–for some reason Central America comes to mind–much in the same way that “gay marriage” is *again* poised to distract “us” from another stolen election in the united states.

    Or it could be that FZ’s role as “pawn of the gov’t” was to “reveal the method”:

    Revelation of the method: Revelation of the Method concerns mind control in the last stages and at a high level. When you tell someone what you are doing to them – murder, mayhem, kidnap, rape, you name it – and they do nothing to stop you or protect themselves, you have created a doubly enslaved subject.

    And since I found that on the internet:

    it must be true. And even if it isn’t, you have to admit FZ did do a lot of explaining to people about all kinds of horrible things.

    Though I realize that this doesn’t prove FZ was “intentionally” out to “doubly enslave” anyone, who can ignore FZ’s love of method revelation? When you think of it, wasn’t FZ’s method revelation a “defining characteristic?”

    So there are plenty in power who could have been very well served by all the lampooning, attacking, etcetera.

  15. If you want to know what was really look into the band Love. Their Forever Changes tells the story (especially the song “Red Telephone”). These guys started the LA music scene. The leader Arthur Lee packed a gun so they could not do jack to him. He was a hippy but also an old school bad ass.

  16. Ok, if its all bs and they were ALL against authority how come they never exposed the authority. Jim Morrisons father was part of the gulf of tonkin incident as he was commander of the fleet of ships. People didnt dream that shit up yesterday… people BACK THEN KNEW that the gulf of tonkin incident was bullshit..just as world war 2 VETERANS questioned the pearl harbor and just well you all know what happened in 2001. So considering that why would jim morrison never expose or even talk about the person he considered dead and hated so much and their involvement with said incident….that STARTED the vietnam war if they were sooooo against it.

    Another point, everyone in laurel canyon in the article showed up out of nowhere as Neil Young once said “like lemmings”. How would such a large group of people come from completely different places start bands all at the same time in the same place when shortly before that the only thing popular around there was black r&b (its where a young rick james was just getting his start in music). Not to mention all the major clubs where those bands got famous like The Whiskey, The Rox, etc etc etc etc just open around that time right in conjunction but preceding those bands.

    Another thing, The Hippy movement did nothing to stop the war. No time in history was there ever a revolution or bettering of society without violence…. and im not talking about giving democrazy to a middle eastern country with bombs and bullets when its obviously about money/oil/weapons. Just as vietnam was about bringing back opium from south east asia. After the first ground troops got to afghanistan within a year the opium output increased over 100 times the amount it was during pre-war times. Thats because al-qaeda was trained by CIA and special forces to fight the opium farmers….hmm. Also hollywood has even portrayed al-qaeda in positive ways in the past… watch rambo 3.

    The Hippy movement only taught and trained people to be active pascifists… turn on,tune in, drop out…thanks tim leary you fucking fag. sit down, place acid on tongue, have orgy…. dont think, dont do anything, dont read….do drugs and fuck… become a victim.

    The first of the anti war protestors were credible college professors and college students (read about the White Panthers). It has been stated many times that the hippies just “showed up out of nowhere”. Nothing happens without a reason, if rebellion created hippies where are the hippies now… still fucked up, daydreaming, and at MOST standing outside a building holding a sign. No threat to anyone, completely harmless, lazy, stinky, braindead, shit heads, that hold up SIGNS… wow… why didnt we just use signs over in iraq to fight the war then….why was JFK not killed with a sign… HOLY SHIT look out that guys got a SIGN….aaaaaaa… SIIIIIGN…. Just think about it. The strangest things are usually true.

  17. [quote comment=”1242″]Back in the 1980s, the U.S. Cruise Missile’s guidance system was tested in Cold Lake, Alberta (my own backyard). Two relatives of mine, at the time, worked in both the Federal Government and the Canadian military at Cold Lake. Using the same logic found in “The Big Laurel Canyon Conspiracy” does that now make me pro-war in Iraq?


    Um, no … but it would make me wonder if all the anti-Iraq-war movement people were from there. That would kind of make me a bit suspicious.

  18. “There’s something happening here
    (what it is ain’t exactly clear)”
    — Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth” (and it ain’t worth much)

  19. [quote comment=”11962″]”There’s something happening here
    (what it is ain’t exactly clear)”
    — Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth” (and it ain’t worth much)[/quote]

    One thing is crystal clear, Linda – whether it was Vietnam, The Gulf War, The War in Iraq, or the The War in Afghanistan – we never were never ever privy to any, or even some, of the essential facts behind these conflicts, just fed the usual mass media propaganda by our respective governments: which we have swallowed whole over the last 30 or 40 years.

    Laurel Canyon was a brief glimmer of incredible creativity surrounded by the terrible ugliness of the times. It’s a surprise that any sunshine got through.

    Turn, turn, turn…

  20. Hello UrbanGraffito,

    I was just wondering where you got the name “Voodoo Butter”. I know a guy who was the lead singer in a band of that name, many years ago; the guy is also an admirer of the great FZ, as all true musicians are, and I wondered if there was some connection. All the best …

  21. [quote comment=”12011″]Hello UrbanGraffito,

    I was just wondering where you got the name “Voodoo Butter”. I know a guy who was the lead singer in a band of that name, many years ago; the guy is also an admirer of the great FZ, as all true musicians are, and I wondered if there was some connection. All the best …[/quote]

    Of course there is! As all rabid and feral Frank Zappa fans well know, the term “Voodoo Butter” comes from the Panty Rap which appears on the Tinsel Town Rebellion album [Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA, December 5, 1980 (late show)] referring to the S’morefully wonderful skid marks found in some women’s panties (only the truly funky ones):

    Oh, here’s one, thank you
    very much. Chicago, if you’ll recall,
    was the town
    in which we received the very famous
    Voodoo Butter Underpants…
    heh, heh… the pants that
    nearly broke Tommy Mars’ neck.

    and expounded upon later in the song “The Jazz Discharge Party Hats” from The Man From Utopia:

    They were sniffing the fudge and sniffing the glue . . .
    Sniffing everything that adhered to these
    Delightful little morsels

  22. Ah-hah, of course! This guy claimed that they couldn’t decide whether to call their band “voodoo economics” or “guns or butter”, but that might have been, y’know, the _clean_ version.

    I don’t live anywhere near Albuquerque, but I’m totally immune to climatic conditions. Thanks, and cheers – John

Comments are closed.