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With ‘Laurel Canyon’ docuseries premiering Sunday, ex-Byrd Chris Hillman recalls LA’s ’60s music scene

With 'Laurel Canyon' docuseries premiering Sunday, ex-Byrd Chris Hillman recalls LA's '60s music scene

The Byrds in 1965, Chris Hillman on far right; Credit: Henry DiltzFounding Byrds bassist Chris Hillman is among the many famous musicians featured in Epix’s new two-part docuseries Laurel Canyon, the first part of which premieres this Sunday, May 31, at 9 p.m. ET.

The series delves deeply into the fertile music scene that centered around Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon neighborhood during the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Hillman tells ABC Audio that he feels the docuseries’ research was “spot on,” and that the whole project was “very well done.”

Chris recalls that The Byrds were among the first rock acts to move to the canyon, along with Frank Zappa. Hillman’s band played at various famous Sunset Strip clubs located right down the road from Laurel Canyon, including Ciro’s, The Trip and, of course, the Whisky a Go Go.

Chris says one of his favorite bands from the scene was Buffalo Springfield.

“I got to know them really well,” Hillman remembers, “and helped them get [their first] job at the Whisky a Go Go.”

Interestingly, two Springfield members, Stephen Stills and Neil Young, later teamed up with Byrds co-founder David Crosby in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Chris, meanwhile, wound up leaving The Byrds in 1968 to join Gram Parsons — who’d replaced Crosby in The Byrds — in the pioneering country-rock act The Flying Burrito Brothers.

“[I]t was sort of funny,” Hillman recalls, “’cause [Gram and I] would go down and play in these country-western clubs all around L.A. and sit in, and just glom onto it and absorb it all.”

In 1969, The Burrito Brothers welcomed to their lineup Bernie Leadon, who later became a co-founding member of The Eagles, one of the 1970s Laurel Canyon scene’s premier artists.

These inter-band connections are one of the fascinating aspects of the scene that the docuseries explores.

By Matt Friedlander
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