By DAVID W. WERSINGER
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
Sand, surf, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll?
In his irresistible page-turner of a book, "Waiting For The
Sun," Barney Hoskyns chronicles the music of Southern California, a
sound that embodies the area's seemingly laid-back, mellow façade.
But much like an onion left too long in a California field, as the
layers are peeled away, a seamy, debauched, druggy core is revealed.
And for readers, that's a good thing.
Hoskyns starts the tour in the 1940s, when black jazzmen -- and
heroin -- dominated the Southern California music scene. The book
moves briskly through the decades: the druggy '60s, the free-love and
rock royalty era of the '70s, the hard-core and anger-fueled punk of
the '80s and the violent, misogynistic rap of the '90s.
Along the way, "Sun" is filled with tales of performers hitting
creative, influential heights, only to come burning, comet-like, back
to Earth as permanently damaged wrecks. It's a richly detailed
account, filled with interviews and recollections from the people who
were actually there, including members of the Byrds, the Eagles,
Steely Dan, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Linda Ronstadt, Phil Spector,
Ice Cube, Beck and even Charles Manson, whose song, "Cease to Exist,"
was recorded by the Beach Boys in 1969 as "Never Learn Not To Love."
Perhaps it's this last relationship that best sums up the
Southern California musical landscape: At the heart of bright,
hummable pop songs for the masses, lies a very dark star indeed.
"Waiting for the Sun," by Barney Hoskyns, Backbeat Books, 420 pages,