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How to Explore the 1960s Los Angeles Music Scene
By:Lea WhiteFeather

Even long-time residents of Los Angeles might be surprised to find out that their favorite restaurant used to be the studio where a big-name band cut their last record. For those who want to travel to L.A. for a firsthand glimpse at a long-gone era that changed the face of music, here are a few tips on making your pilgrimage a memorable one.

Read the memoirs written by the biggest names in music during the sixties. As L.A. was a key location for historic rock moments, these names are likely be mentioned in bios about rock n' rollers native to the City of Angels. A couple of local rock personalities who were at their peak during the Summer of Love are Ray Manzarek and John Densmore, the organist and drummer, respectively, for "The Doors." Look for their books and those of their peers for an insider glimpse at what making music was like in 1960s Los Angeles. Also helpful are the tell-all books written by the wives, mistresses and lovers of rockers from the era. Groupie Pamela Des Barres' books might be a good place to start (see Resources below). Also watch 1960s-related documentaries, interviews and footage of live performances. You will immerse your senses more fully in the experience this way as compared to simply listening to the music.

Book yourself into classic accommodations. Sixties rock royalty regularly stayed at the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. Along the same lines, The Knickerbocker, The Hyatt in West Hollywood and Hollywood Roosevelt are other hotels that you might want to explore. Highland Gardens used to be the Landmark Hotel, famous for being Janis Joplin's death site.

Get an idea of L.A. sixties hotspots from guidebooks and Internet fan pages before you visit. You will then have an itinerary which includes locations that may not even be evident landmarks to passersby. "The Doors" frontman Jim Morrison regularly slept in Room 32 of the Alta Cienega Motel, which is barely noticeable considering its convenient location on La Cienega Boulevard by Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevards. Other popular destinations include Laurel and Topanga Canyons, where many musicians lived back in those days.

Stop by favored sixties haunts and gig locations. Many of these you will encounter along the Sunset Strip and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. You could drop by the Troubadour or the Whisky A Go Go to catch a live performance, then grab a bite after the show at Barney's Beanery. Look up are original Sound Records and Sunset Sound--both of which are in Hollywood--where legendary recording sessions took place.

Take a tour of Hollywood to see the stars of your favorite bands and musicians on the Walk of Fame. Some names from the sixties included in this favorite tourist attraction are "The Beatles," "The Beach Boys" and "The Monkees."

Pay your respects at select Southern California cemeteries and walk amongst the graves of sixties musicians who've passed on. Some examples would be Frank Zappa at Westwood Memorial, John Phillips of "The Mamas and the Papas" at Forest Lawn in Cathedral City, and Arthur Lee from the group "Love" at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills. Also, if ever you find yourself staring at the Pacific Ocean, know that such icons as Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin have had their ashes cast into its waters.

Remember, movies aren't always the best nor most accurate way to learn about an era, but they are an entertaining way to get some background. For example, director Oliver Stone's movie about the L.A. band, "The Doors," evokes the sixties feel with realistic clothing, hairstyles and props even as it contradicts details in the real-life story as insisted by those who were there.

Look up your favored spots on a current guide or map before heading all the way out there. Sometimes, the only thing that remains of a historic location is the address. Buildings change and are torn down to make room for the new, especially in a fast-paced town like L.A.

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