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Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 [Paperback]

Barney Hoskyns
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 July 2006

The story of a remarkable time and place: Los Angeles from the dawn of the singer-songwriter era in the mid-Sixties to the peak of The Eagles’ success in the late Seventies.

‘Hotel California’ is an epic tale of songs and sunshine, drugs and denim, genius and greed, and is the first in-depth account of the LA Canyons scene between 1967 and 1976.

Hoskyn's history of this vital period in the development of today's great musical influences spans the rise of Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, The Eagles, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, and focuses on the brilliance and determination of David Geffen, the man who linked them all.

Covering genius, drug-crazed disintegration, and the myriad relationships between these artists and the songs that issued from them, and drawing on extensive interviews with countless stars, singers, writers, managers, executives and scenesters, ‘Hotel California’ is a pop-culture classic.

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Frequently Bought Together

Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 + Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon + Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-And-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (17 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007177054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007177059
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘Hoskyns impresses with the sheer weight of testimony he has amassed and the skill with which he has woven it into a tightly coiled and elegiac narrative.’ Christopher Silvester, Sunday Times

‘A terrific account of the interface between idealism and squalor, art and commerce.’ Guardian

‘The author skillfully teases out the complex web of relationships between the artists, managers, and record executives who made up the West Coast’s self-styled bohemian elite.’ Ben Thompson, Independent

‘if you are looking for the ingredients traditionally required of a good rock'n'roll story, then “Hotel California” has got the lot… An ambitious and authoritative account which makes overdue sense of a spectacularly decadent period of pop history’ David Sinclair, Guardian

About the Author

Rock historian Barney Hoskyns is the author of nine books and has written about music and pop culture for numerous publications including NME, The Times, Guardian, Vogue and Mojo, of which he was Associate Editor. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the straightest guy in the LA hippie era? 9 July 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have any interest at all in the Byrds/Crosby Stills Nash & Young/Joni Mitchell/Eagles era then this book explains a lot and fills in many of the gaps in your education. It doesn't just focus on the main characters either, all the associated artists turn up. Few are good and most come across as first rate jerks with Crosby and Stills as the the two biggest.

Cocaine features heavily indeed and it seems everyone was addicted to it and I never really understood the impact that this had on the artists and less so in the creativeness but more in their inability to keep it together. Throwing people out of bands because they were doped up seems an everyday occurrence.

What a superb read, I really couldn't put it down, unusual for me unless it is thriller fiction.

The straightest guy? well Frank Zappa apparently. I suppose if you were the only normal one amongst the drug crazed canyon then I guess you would be seen as very weird.

Totally recommend it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive account of Californian scene... 21 Oct 2006
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Barney Hoskyns is certainly one of the best historical music writers, having previously impressed with one of the best books on The Band (`Across the Great Divide', later adapted into a show by Radio 2) and the epic `Waiting for the Sun: Strange Days, Weird Scenes and the Sound of Los Angeles.' In many ways, `Hotel California' is a successor to the latter title - where `Waiting for the Sun' took in a wide view of LA, from artists featured here to the Germs to NWA, this book restricts its view more, and is superior because of it. Hoskyns' engaging book generally focuses around Geffen's Asylum label and various key artists of the 1960s who typified the hippie dream in California: The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Love, The Doors, and various acts that stemmed from them. If you enjoyed such books as Joe Boyd's `White Bicycles' or Barry Miles `In the Sixties', you're in safe hands here as Hoskyns charts the rise and fall of those ideals, blending music history with cultural history and charting the obvious excesses.

The sub-title `Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons 1967 - 1976' which balances the Eagles-derived title (sometimes I feel like the Dude in the Big Lebowski regarding Henley & co!!!) - Hoskyns unafraid to criticise that band, though by the end `Hotel California' (the album) reflected an unfortunate reality. Proceedings open with the Byrds and continue with the Californian scene and with artists such as the Springfield, CSN&Y, Love, Joni Mitchell (who appears to have slept with every male musician in California in the 1960s and 1970s!), David Crosby, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Gene Clark, Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Neil Young, Poco, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, J D Souther and many more.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive reading... 14 Aug 2006
Hotel California deals with the weirdly incestuous West Coast muso community of the late 60s/ early 70s, living in Laurel Canyon, getting increasingly wasted, fried, bombed and laid and - somehow - producing music of often exquisite quality. How they managed to do this at the same time as all the extra-mural activity so lovingly detailed here (and not forgetting the two-timing, backstabbing and Machavellian business strategems pioneered by the likes of David Geffen) is never adequately explained and it's really the book's major shortcoming. A great read if Neil, Joni, Jackson, the Eagles et al are your bag, really quite boring if you're not, but at the same time, oddly compulsive, once picked up hard to lay down. A little like cocaine itself, it occurs to me. I wonder if that was intentional.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barney Hoskins does it again 8 July 2007
After reading the magnificent 'say it one more time for the broken hearted'I thought Barney wouldn't be able to better his account of a place in time of modern music history,but he has.For the black and white soul of the south read the rock of the west coast.
The album that you can buy to accompany the album is also superb.
Any chance of a similar album for 'Say it one more time.......'Barney?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Subtitled "Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons, 1967-1976", this is a dip into one of the fascinating periods of rock history - but also one of the most neglected.

It's the story of the talented but dysfunctional men and women who swirled through the boho milieux of the canyons surrounding LA in the 60s and 70s, and of the business brilliance of men like David Geffen who made so many of them into stars.

Ex-NME and Mojo scribe Barney Hoskyns is a thorough researcher and an elegant wordsmith. He offers a compassionate glimpse into the maverick genius of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, follows the drugged downward spiral of David Crosby, Gram Parsons and Cass Elliott as though he were tracing the whole decade's gradual descent into decadence and destruction. He describes the rise of country-rock through the stories of The Eagles and Little Feat, and how the glamorous decadence of LA imports like Led Zeppelin embraced the hedonistic past of the city's mainstream.

And through the stories of Geffen and his world, he shows how the dream of social change in the idealistic 60s was gradually transmuted into a business proposition; in the words of poet Jeff Nuttall, "how the market saw that these revolutionaries could be put in a safe pen and given their consumer goods."

In many ways, the story Hoskyns tells is a tragedy, a story of the death of youth and of hope in arguably the most decadent city on earth. But he never takes the easy route, never typecasts his subjects as either hero or villain. One of the book's most touching moments is Geffen's flash of insight into the artistic condition: "Artists tend to be that I don't mean more difficult for me - I think their lives are more difficult for them."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Hoskyns' attention to detail makes all his books worth reading ...
Hoskyns' attention to detail makes all his books worth reading - No missinformed opinions, you really can take him at his word!
Published 10 days ago by M. Kelly
4.0 out of 5 stars informative
Interesting tales of the West coast rock scene featuring csny,csnvJoni Mitchel amongst many others and the rise of Laurel Canyon and various record labels. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Brian Mcpherson
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books of all time.
Barney Hoskyns paints a wonderful picture of the one of the most important eras in music.

Hotel California is easily one of the most in depth essays you are likely to... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jeymes
5.0 out of 5 stars Ready or Not
this certainly is a brilliant well researched book about the greatest singer songwriters of the 20th century , all the trappings that fame and money can bring... Read more
Published 10 months ago by peter allen
1.0 out of 5 stars Less Hotel California, more Doctor - my eyes...
The late 60s and early 70s were the halcyon days for the singer-songwriter in LA.
David Geffen hadn't revealed himself to be the money grabbing businessman we know and love... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kahnee
5.0 out of 5 stars So much Dirty Laundry
Well worth reading. The hardest part is putting it down. It's amazing that anyone of the community survived the era.
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Great book & very well written. Really gives a feel of the times & what it must have been like to live in Laurel Canyon. Highly recommended
Published 17 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Book on Californian Rock
I'm annoyerd that I didn't read this years ago.

It gives a very detailed account of the lives of many of my rock heroes, people I still listen to most days. Read more
Published on 27 July 2012 by Richard Wiltshire
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Perhaps the artist in these pages I was initially most interested to read about was Joni Mitchell, but there's The Eagles as well, and loads more, including big names like Neil... Read more
Published on 26 May 2011 by Sebastian Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Californication
I bought this book for my nephew having already read it previously. Anyone interested in music of a certain genre and/or the music industry will not help but be fascinated by the... Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by R. A. Starczewski
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