Hollywood Eden

Hollywood Eden

Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise

Written by: Selvin, Joel

Hollywood Eden brings the lost humanity of the record business vividly back to life … [Selvin’s] style is blunt, unpretentious and brisk; he knows how to move things along entertainingly … Songs about surfboards and convertibles had turned quaint, but in this book, their coolness is restored.” — New York Times

From surf music to hot-rod records to the sunny pop of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, the Byrds, and the Mama’s & the Papa’s, Hollywood Eden captures the fresh blossom of a young generation who came together in the epic spring of the 1960s to invent the myth of the California Paradise.

Central to the story is a group of sun-kissed teens from the University High School class of 1959 — a class that included Jan & Dean, Nancy Sinatra, and future members of the Beach Boys — who came of age in Los Angeles at the dawn of a new golden era when anything seemed possible. These were the people who invented the idea of modern California for the rest of the world.

But their own private struggles belied the paradise portrayed in their music. What began as a light-hearted frolic under sunny skies ended up crashing down to earth just a few short but action-packed years later as, one by one, each met their destinies head-on. A rock ’n’ roll opera loaded with violence, deceit, intrigue, low comedy, and high drama, Hollywood Eden tells the story of a group of young artists and musicians who bumped heads, crashed cars, and ultimately flew too close to the sun.

Hollywood Eden brings the lost humanity of the record business vividly back to life … [Selvin’s] style is blunt, unpretentious and brisk; he knows how to move things along entertainingly … Songs about surfboards and convertibles had turned quaint, but in this book, their coolness is restored.” — New York Times

From surf music to hot-rod records to the sunny pop of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, the Byrds, and the Mama’s & the Papa’s, Hollywood Eden captures the fresh blossom of a young generation who came together in the epic spring of the 1960s to invent the myth of the California Paradise.

Central to the story is a group of sun-kissed teens from the University High School class of 1959 — a class that included Jan & Dean, Nancy Sinatra, and future members of the Beach Boys — who came of age in Los Angeles at the dawn of a new golden era when anything seemed possible. These were the people who invented the idea of modern California for the rest of the world.

But their own private struggles belied the paradise portrayed in their music. What began as a light-hearted frolic under sunny skies ended up crashing down to earth just a few short but action-packed years later as, one by one, each met their destinies head-on. A rock ’n’ roll opera loaded with violence, deceit, intrigue, low comedy, and high drama, Hollywood Eden tells the story of a group of young artists and musicians who bumped heads, crashed cars, and ultimately flew too close to the sun.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc - Apr 6, 2021
Specifications 312 pages | 6 in x 9 in
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Excerpt

PRAISE FOR JOEL SELVIN AND HOLLYWOOD EDEN:

“A jukebox musical of a book … If Altamont marked the premature end of the 1960s, Hollywood Eden is the decade’s origin story, capturing the lingering 1950s and the transition in Southern California music from surfing and hot rods to the singer-songwriters of the canyons.” San Francisco Chronicle

“For a tale of dreams, there’s a lot of hustle going on in Hollywood Eden … For every sonic visionary, be it [Brian] Wilson or Phil Spector, there are a dozen people scraping by … What Selvin does so well is focus on a specific community and what made it work … Selvin took a similar approach in his ’60s Bay Area pop book, Summer of Love. Here he zooms in tighter on less trodden ground, with more revelatory results.” — Los Angles Times

“Selvin tells this inside story as if he were right there … Hollywood Eden is a lively and well-researched book.” ? Winnipeg Free Press

“Forget the subtitle, which is its own myth. The book is in stray facts no one else would dig up, yet alone think of publishing … and, in this ten-years-on-the-strip tale of white people coming out of University High in Los Angeles and making records, the way Selvin can cut right down to what really matters, over and over again.” — Greil Marcus, Los Angeles Review of Books

“My life back in those days was truly ‘fun fun fun’ and Hollywood Eden beautifully captures our Fifties and Sixties California music scene. Please don’t change a word!” Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys

Hollywood Eden is a keeper! Startlingly moving, it features a cast of somehow sympathetic characters who are all looking for a fast buck, some luck of the draw, or intimations of immortality. I knew full well most of the subjects of this tumultuous time; I was also there in a hedge-row cameo. So I read the book through and through. I warrant every word of it is true.” Van Dyke Parks, composer, songwriter, and lyricist of Brian Wilson’s renowned Smile album

Hollywood Eden is a detailed look at the hugely influential California music scene just before the arrival of folk rock and psychedelic music — a vital link in the chronicles of the American popular song. I found it fascinating; I love the book.” Linda Ronstadt, vocalist, songwriter, and bestselling author of Simple Dreams

“Those of us who grew up in the Darwinian slaughterhouse of New Jersey couldn’t have imagined the paradise so accurately described in Hollywood Eden. Through the years I became familiar with most of the characters in this book, yet I learned something new on every page. Joel Selvin’s special gift is putting you in the room to witness these unlikely events that became essential Rock History.” Stevie Van Zandt, musician, actor, and syndicated radio host of Little Steven’s Underground Garage

“There’s a panoramic sweep to Joel Selvin’s Hollywood Eden. It’s a story told not as a history, but as a dramatic tale, an adventure, with scenes described so vividly, they become cinematic.” — Rock & Roll Globe

“Hollywood Eden doesn’t shy away from the darkness that often boiled under the sun-flecked harmonies, but it ultimately celebrates these audacious young people and the enduring art they created … Hollywood Eden is a vivid and engaging snapshot of California in the 1960s — both the harsh reality and the fantasy world of song.” — The Second Disc

“Behind the scenes it wasn’t always fun, fun, fun, but fans of late ’50s and ’60s pop will feel like they’ve caught the perfect wave.” School Library Journal