The former longtime music critic of the San Francisco Chronicle explores the California mythos created by early 1960s rockers Jan & Dean, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Mamas & the Papas and others—all of whom struggled with personal problems that belied the paradise portrayed in their music.
The author’s style is blunt, unpretentious and brisk; he knows how to move things along entertainingly. Hollywood Eden brings the lost humanity of the record business vividly back to life. The era he explores, however, was as fragile as the perfect wave ... Songs about surfboards and convertibles had turned quaint, but in this book, their coolness is restored.
Selvin goes deep, drilling down to the musical localism of individual high schools, most notably West L.A.’s University High ... The image of an exhausted Tina Turner drenched in sweat after dozens of takes, then stripping down to her bra and asking to lower the studio lights before starting all over again, is unforgettable ... 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.
Entertaining and informative, Selvin’s book brings together bunches of Hollywood stories ... Selvin’s story-by-story, sociological approach makes Hollywood Eden an absorbing read ... Selvin has made another contribution to pop music history in capturing their stories and that of a bygone era that continues to have some influence on music 60 years later.