Topanga Canyon and the Santa Monica Mountains in the 60’s

When the free-thinkers of 60’s counter-culture-era Los Angeles set about changing the world through meditation, rock ‘n’ roll, mysticism, organic food and staying as high as possible at all times, they spent time wandering the “wilds” of Topanga Canyon. Far enough from the suburbs to be considered wild, and yet safely close to the sunset strip and all the action in LA, Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains have traditionally cast itself as LA’s preferred utopian outpost: the wild highlands to LA’s Edinburgh or Rome, where the naked, heathen and untamed wander wild and unencumbered by the demands of civilization.

The drumroll of folks who lived in, hung out and recorded in this area during those tumultuous years is awe inspiring: Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash, Joni Mitchell, the Mamas and the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, Love. Frank Zappa, the Beach Boys, the Turtles, John Phillips, the Doors, Canned Heat, Dennis Hopper, not to mention weirdo and now highly influential acid folkers such as Linda Perhacs, Barbara Rich, Bruce Palmer and undesirables such as Charles Manson who had his base of operations in Topanga Canyon.

One Day in 1970 Linda Perhacs was high on acid and walking in Topanga Canyon and saw brilliant colors in the sky (of course she did, ha!). She sat down and synesthetically transcribed the colors of the sky into geometric shapes and then into a song, her masterwork, Parallelograms. A couple thousand copies of this record were pressed in 1970 and it completely flopped and was long forgotten ‘til the new wave of freak folkers such as Joanna Newsom and Devendra Bahnhart rediscovered her record and resurrected it’s status. You can hear this song and other Topanga / Santa Monica Mountains masterworks on the Juniper Ridge Spotify playlist “Trail Vibes 6: Naked Hippies in the Canyon”.

The Topanga Corral was a nightclub that featured an eclectic mix of performers, including then Topanga locals Canned Heat, Spirit, Little Feat, Spanky and Our Gang, Taj Mahal, Emmylou Harris, Bob Denver, Neil Diamond and Russ Tamblyn, Etta James, Windance, Neil Young, and Crazy Horse, Geronimo Black, and many others. It is rumored that Jim Morrison was inspired to write “Roadhouse Blues” about the drive up Topanga Canyon Boulevard to The Corral. Later in the 1970s, after being destroyed by fire and rebuilt, the club featured many up and coming bands from the L.A. punk scene. In 1986, the Corral again burned to the ground and was not rebuilt. Today, many musicians, artists and actors continue to make Topanga their home. Linda Ronstadt has been seen hitchhiking through the Canyon barefoot with her guitar.

People ride horses through it, mountain bike in it, hike it. In just under an hour you can disappear into the shade and raw beauty of the canyon and come out the other end overlooking the Pacific. From there you can head next door to scope celebrities in Mailbu or continue 15 miles up the beach to Zuma, a whole other vibe and the title of another classic Neil Young album.

Why did they all come to Topanga? The musicians, the actors, the weirdos, the hummingbirds? Nature. Surrounded by parks, conservancy land and the Pacific Ocean, Topanga is a Golden State sampler of rugged mountains, shady creeks and cold, salty surf. We here at Juniper Ridge like to think that the Rock and Roll history of Topanga Canyon has influenced our TOPANGA CANYON GREEN EARTH RISING wilderness perfumes. We consider our perfume a dedication to that artistic history, a conversation with the rock, the flower and freaky inspiration.

Follow the Juniper Ridge Spotify and listen to the playlist “Trail Vibes Vol 6: Naked Hippies in the Canyon”