There's no denying how important California's Laurel Canyon scene was to the music of the mid-to-late '60s.
Songs by the Beach Boys, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Mamas and the Papas dominated the charts in the era, and also served as crucial influences to The Beatles on the other side of the world. But the Laurel Canyon story is one that's been overshadowed by coverage of the overlapping British Invasion and the Flower Power movements.
The producers of the new film Echo In The Canyon, Jakob Dylan and Andy Slater, began a deep dive through the history of folk music in Laurel Canyon and quickly learned how what started there impacted decades of music to come. During a visit to Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke, the pair described the turning point in the making of the film: interviewing Tom Petty.
One of the biggest rock stars of the '70s and '80s, Petty grew up far from California, but like many others he was divinely inspired by the music that came out of Laurel Canyon. In the film, Petty serves as a kind of professor of California folk-rock who provided an essential perspective for the film.
"I think he had a nice time that day — I don't know how many guitar shops he gets to wander through anymore," Dylan said of the Petty interview, which took place at Truetone Music in Los Angeles. "It's unfortunate, of course, that was his last interview. But he gave us so much that was so important, so necessary, that I'm not even sure we knew that when thinking of having him talk. His stuff become hugely important. It's not just commentary, it's not just bits and pieces and funny stories; his stuff is wildly important because of him being a teenager when that music was impacting him."
To help tell the stories behind the music, Dylan and Slater enlisted several all-star bands to recreate the music. And produced a phenomenal corresponding soundtrack of the same name.
"Behind every song is a story, and behind these songs were bands, and inside those bands was a kind of echoing creativity going back because they all had multiple singers and they all had multiple songwriters," Slater explained. "And it was a very unique time because they all came to California in search of that dream of being the Beatles — of what they saw in A Hard Day's Night. Being in a band seemed cool at that time."
Watch the full Out of the Box interview above.
Here's the official trailer for Echo in the Canyon: