Musically Speaking
Laurel Canyon House Zappa Used To Live In
By Mary J. Peterson
Jan 1, 2003 - 5:24:00 PM

LAUREL CANYONIt was the spring of 1968 and Frank Zappa, creator of the Mothers of Invention, had just returned to Los Angeles from a long stint in New York. Upon his return, Zappa moved into a log cabin on the corner of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Lookout Mountain in Laurel Canyon. This unusual residence would serve as the center of the Laurel Canyon music scene during the late 60's.

Stopping by during Zappa's occupancy were Mick Jagger, the Animals, Alice Cooper, Roger McGuinn, John Mayall and the Cowsills. Harry Houdini's house was across the street and all along Laurel Canyon, sat the residences of rock n' roll royalty like Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, the Monkees and Mama Cass. Silver screen cowboy Tom Mix, who resided in the cabin for a brief period and then moved to Beverly Hills, occupied it at one time. The cabin was subsequently rented out to a series of Hollywood big shots. The house was not a humble log cabin by any means. The cabin and surrounding property would eventually become a historic link in music history.

Photo by Jessica Griffiths/Canyon News
Built in 1915, as a masculine retreat for wealthy men, the cabin featured an 80-foot living room, with a floor to ceiling fireplace. The attached guesthouse contained two trees growing out of the living room and a duck pond. Artificial caves were fashioned in the hillside. In 1966, a small house was built by architect Robert Byrd and son Gary behind the log cabin. This house was inhabited the following year by a communal group centering around underground personalities Vito Paulekas and Carl Franzoni, organizers of dance troupes at clubs on the Sunset Strip. Among those visiting at this time were George Harrison and Timothy Leary.

Upon Zappa's occupancy during the spring of 1968, an eclectic array of visitors came to stay, including Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Paul Butterfield. One of Zappa's projects at this time was producing the GTO's, a band comprised of flamboyant cabin regulars. He also held auditions for his Straight and Bizarre during the intervals between guests. One of the unsigned artists who auditioned for Zappa's labels was Alice Cooper. Tiring of the constant attention, the Zappas moved out of the house after six months. The parties went on when a series of new tenants moved in. Then on Halloween of 1981, the Log Cabin mysteriously went up in flames leaving only the small tree house on the property. In 1999, a rock manager who has spent the last three years renovating the house and grounds purchased the property. The property is currently on the real estate market with a multimillion-dollar price tag.

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