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Episode 97 : Joel Selvin on Early '60s L.A. + Jack Nitzsche + Malcolm Cecil R.I.P.

5 April 2021

In this episode we welcome San Francisco Chronicle legend Joel Selvin into the virtual cupboard to talk about Hollywood Eden, his terrific new book about L.A.'s pop scene in the early '60s.

After explaining how he first came to write for "the Chron" at the end of that decade, Joel recalls his early fascination with L.A. as the burgeoning "surf city" celebrated by Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys. Barney & Mark press him for stories about the scurrilous but brilliant "bottom feeder" Kim Fowley, after which we hear three audio clips from John Tobler's 1973 interview with (Jan &) Dean Torrence. (Among those namechecked along the way: Jan Berry, inevitably, and Lou Adler, Bruce Johnston, Terry Melcher & Jill Gibson...)

Staying in a Southern California groove, Joel also reminisces about the troubled Jack Nitzsche, whom he interviewed for Melody Maker in 1978. We discuss Nitzsche's achievements as a producer-arranger, his big influence on the Rolling Stones, and his regrettable decline in the last years of his life. Handily, Joel also turns out to know his stuff when it comes to the role played in Stevie Wonder's synthesized '70s soul by the late Malcolm (Tonto's Expanding Head Band) Cecil, who passed away last week...

Mark wraps matters up with observations on such recent RBP library additions as Maureen O'Grady's 1965 Rave interview with the visiting Byrds; Richard Goldstein's 1968 New York Times profile of the splendidly eccentric Van Dyke Parks; and — from 1980 — Glenn O'Brien's Interview interview with the Marianne Faithfull of Broken English.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest Joel Selvin. Hollywood Eden is published by House of Anansi and Joel can be found online at