Inside The LC: The Strange but Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation Part XVII


by David McGowan, The Center for an Informed America, May 21, 2010
Published here: July 3, 2010 @ 8:10 PM

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“[Gene] used to slip into these dream states, which I thought was really amazing. He’d go into these dream states and lay down on the couch and go, ‘I’ll be right back, Patrick.’”
Pat Robinson, a friend and bandmate of Gene Clark
“[Gene] had these multiple personalities.”
John York, another friend and bandmate of Gene Clark

“[Gene] did seem like he had a lot on his mind and would often appear distracted. You’d say, ‘Hey, Gene, what are you thinking?’ and he would go, ‘Huh? Oh,’ like he was being brought back to reality.”
Bernie Leadon, yet another friend and bandmate of Gene Clark

In many ways, the Gene Clark story reads a lot like the Gram Parsons story. Both were considered by their peers to be among Laurel Canyon’s brightest stars, yet both are now largely forgotten. Both of their lives were cut tragically short (though Clark lived considerably longer than Parsons). Both of their deaths were overshadowed to some extent by unusual events that occurred just after their passing. Both were considered pioneers of the country-rock genre. Both played for a time with the Byrds. Both recorded duets with Emmylou Harris, and both employed many of the same musicians on their various solo projects. Both had legions of female admirers. Both had a keen interest in UFOs and believed in alien visitations. Both were notorious drug and alcohol abusers.

Did anyone notice anything unusual, by the way, about that last sentence? Probably not, though there is an obvious redundancy on display. If I had written something slightly different, like “drug and heroin abusers” or “drug and cocaine abusers,” you likely would have picked up on it right away. But because I used a phrase that everyone is accustomed to seeing and hearing, “drug and alcohol abusers,” none of you batted an eye. I have no idea though what my point is here, so let’s just move on.

Harold Eugene Clark was born on November 17, 1944, in Tipton, Missouri, though the year of his birth was frequently reported as 1941. It seems quite likely that Gene Clark himself was the source of that erroneous biographical detail, to avoid questions about the fact that his father was overseas for all of 1944.

Tipton is a small town – the kind of town where everyone knows one another by name. In fact, Tipton is kind of like a big park where the same oversized family reunion is held every day of the year. As Bonnie Clark Laible told author John Einarson, “When I was in Tipton, Missouri, the year my grandfather died, in 1954, I found out I was related to almost everyone in the community. Everyone had married people they knew through the various families like Faherty and Sommerhauser. I couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a family member!” Continue reading “Inside The LC: The Strange but Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation Part XVII”