Just published is Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, And The Myth Of The California Paradise, arguably the most important book ever written on the birth of California rock by legendary writer Joel Selvin. Selvin traces the early days of the L.A. rock scene, which in the late-1950's slowly transformed from being Manhattan's lowly industry stepsister to the defining the sound of American music. Hollywood Eden charts the course of key L.A. players — Phil Spector, Lou Adler, Jan Berry, Brian Wilson, and beyond — and sheds new and important light on how the city, renowned for its visuals, came to capture a new generation's heart and imagination through sound.
Selvin told us the icons of the era all shared common traits and emotional complexities — starting with the Bronx, New York transplant, Phil Spector: “Y'know, this is a 17-year-old pretty dramatically stressed out from a personality point of view. Driven — so was Jan Berry. And that's the sort of thing that transforms, y'know, adolescents into phenomenons, is those kind of personality issues. Brian Wilson was certainly loaded with them, too.”
The aura around the L.A. stars and hitmakers played a huge part in the backstory to the records they produced. Selvin underscored how Jan Berry's 1966 car crash, which left him brain damaged and forever hobbled, only added to the Jan & Dean legend — and in some ways solidified their place in California rock: “The whole timing of the accident and the 'Deadman's Curve' thing about it — all that — y'know, really, it's right away, it's a rock n' roll myth — and was recognized as such. The (1978) TV movie (on Jan & Dean) was the highest rated TV movie in history.”