Ned Doheny went from the folky Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene to R&B heights

After an album on Asylum failed to make waves, Ned Doheny wrote a couple songs with Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart that would find great success in the R&B world. Teaming with Steve Cropper, Doheny embraced this new funky direction and recorded two albums that made him a star in England and Japan.


Photo by Henry Diltz

Photo by Henry Diltz



“In those days, it was very small-townish,” Ned Doheny says about his hometown of Los Angeles. Between bites of a chopped salad in an unremarkable Malibu strip-mall bistro, Ned talks about growing up in Hollywood in the ’50s and early ’60s. “It was before everybody arrived. Everybody seemed to arrive towards the latter part of the ’70s. All of a sudden, you could see the bodies on the streets. I think this town has been selling itself for so long that everybody finally said, ‘Let’s go there.’ Now it’s kinda like Blade Runner with no budget, which is kinda wonderful and terrible at the same time.” Ned now calls Malibu home.


An abbreviated version entitled “California Son” first appeared in Wax Poetics Issue 54


The Doheny family patriarch, Edward L. Doheny Sr., was the wealthiest oil tycoon on the West Coast during the peak of domestic oil discovery, only surpassed nationally by John D. Rockefeller. So when Ned claims to have deep roots in Southern California, it’s because his family basically built the town. Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills/Hollywood was once their family’s driveway. The Doheny legacy faded into the shadows in the aftermath of a grizzly double homicide in 1929 at the palatial family estate in the neighborhood that is now known as Trousdale Estates. That being said, the only time Ned invoked his familial legacy during our interview was to explain his mixed emotions about standing in the spotlight: “To tell you the truth, my family had gotten a lot of celebrity at one point, and it did not do us any good. Everybody was very leery of fame after that.”

Ned’s parents encouraged his early interest in music, buying him an acoustic guitar for Christmas when he was four. “That was a fatal error on my parent’s part,” Ned explains, remembering his parents’ begrudging acceptance of their son’s youthful obsession. “You know how seriously kids will take things sometimes,” he says. “I think most parents want their children to do something predictable and remunerative. They were hoping I’d grow out of it, sort of like a ’60s [version of the] ‘Goth’ experience.”

Before the ’60s guitar gods (Hendrix, Clapton, et al.) emerged from their narcotics-fueled blues and folk incubators, the folk revival was the only serious guitar game in town, and little Ned was an apt pupil. Then he heard Lonnie Mack on the radio. “My world was completely transformed,” Ned remembers when hearing Mack’s hit song “Memphis.” “I didn’t know you could make a guitar go that fast.” Ned switched to electric guitar and was soon good enough to talk his way into a recording session that Terry Melcher was producing. You see, Terry’s girlfriend at the time was Candice Bergen, who was a friend of Ned’s sister. Ned held his own, but learned he had a long way to go. He enrolled at U.C. Santa Barbara and later Cal Arts on a music scholarship, but before too long, “the lure of the circus became too much for me…”

Ned continues, “There was an ad looking for guitar players to play with Jackson Browne, who I assumed probably was a large, ursine, African American person, but in actual fact, it was this willowy, little, Latin-looking kid, and he just played his tunes, and I played along.” It was 1967, and the audition was with Barry Friedman, the eccentric musical jack-of-all-trades that had assembled Buffalo Springfield and was now working for Jac Holzman’s Elektra Records. Ned got the gig and started hanging out regularly at Barry’s house and up and down Laurel Canyon. Jackson and Ned clicked musically and platonically, resulting in many nights at the Troubadour on Sunset Strip and days hitching through Laurel Canyon. Jackson Browne recalled, “My friend Ned Doheny and I would say, ‘Let’s go up to [Monkee Peter Tork’s] house, see what’s going on.’ Sometimes, you would go in and there would be twelve girls in the pool, naked… One time, Jimi Hendrix was up there jamming with Buddy Miles in the pool house, and Peter’s girlfriend was playing drums, naked.”1

Music From Big Ego

In the euphoric aftermath of the Summer of Love’s climax, the Monterrey Pop Festival, Barry Friedman shared his dream with Jac Holzman: “He proposed a music ranch. Take talented kids out of the struggles of trying to make it in the city, give them fresh air, good food, and the freedom to create whatever music came to them.”2 If the Band and Dylan could do it with The Basement Tapes & Music From Big Pink, then Jac Holzman and his West Coast crew of young folkies could do it too. “In those days, you could actually get people to bankroll fantasies and immense fictions. Barry was just crazy enough to be able to convince Jac to part with that kind of money,” Ned says.

After some searching, Friedman found Paxton Lodge in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas—gold country—and about a six-hour drive from Los Angeles. Marty Richmond, a witness to the ensuing bucolic free-for-all, recalled the house-band: “Jackson played guitar and piano and wrote songs. Rolf Kempf played piano, organ, guitar, and—oddly—accordion. Jack Wilce played banjo, mandolin, and guitar. Peter Hodgson signed on as the bass player. Ned Doheny, an heir to the Doheny oil fortune, was to play electric lead guitar.”3

It was a novel idea, but the reality was that these young guns hadn’t yet had the chance to become stifled by the conventional studio routine, and they found themselves completely out of their depth in the middle of the woods, high on an assortment of narcotics around the clock and with a constant stream of rock-and-roll personalities and eccentrics rolling through the lodge. It was a circus, literally. “All kinds of amazing things happened,” Ned recalls. “Barry Freidman lit his face on fire trying to eat fire for Jac Holzman, because he used to be a clown in the circus at some point. I mean, it gets no better.” Friedman, who’d morphed into “Frazier Mohawk” during this stint, remembered that “Jac put me out. He threw something over me. It might have been a fat person.”4

The idea was that this core band would work on recordings by guest musicians sent by Elektra, as well as their own recordings. “The whole thing was absolutely hilarious. And of course we were having way too much fun,” Ned remembers. “In terms of girls, Ned and Jackson pretty well had it all under control there. Ned wore a smoking jacket and was quite the gentleman at all times. He came from a long line of old money, and he had that dignified demeanor about him,” Friedman remembers.5

“Barry Freeman, who’s mad, was producing the whole thing. He was really the one that was producing Jackson… We got so freed from urban pressures, the record never got made,” Ned recalls. “Remove people from all things familiar and put them at the mercy of what was both a peculiar error and the company of eccentric people in a galaxy far, far away—there isn’t a lot of reality in that. It had no center. We all imagined that we were the Beatles on some brave adventure. That part became tarnished, because if Frazier [Friedman] was the captain, the ship was in trouble from the start. I just couldn’t participate in it any more.”6 Ned explained to Barney Hoskyns in Hotel California, “I refused to be corrupted by Barry and so was asked to leave that group of people. Jackson was chosen to deliver the note, but the beast was already dead.”7

Ned was one of the first of the core musicians to leave. “For me, it was about seven months, but it seemed like an eternity,” Ned explains. “Hearts were broken. When I left Paxton, it was the first of many agonizing reappraisals where you really have to rethink your life based on the fact that your vision didn’t really hold up in the bright light of day.” Through one of the characters in the amorphous Paxton house band, Ned found work gigging with tenor sax man and bandleader Charles Lloyd. To Lloyd’s surprise, and that of nearly every other working jazz player, Charles’s late-’60s albums were attracting young rock-and-rollers. His quartet was the first jazz group to play the Fillmore in San Francisco. “I was completely out of my depth on one level,” Ned says about his brief experience with Lloyd’s group. Ned played in Lloyd’s live group and on at least one studio recording, Moon Man (released in 1972 though recorded earlier). “Charles was singing in those days in his kinda whispy voice. I think he was trying to do sort of a Miles [Davis] chameleon transformation thing, which I think was a little poorly conceived. I think he saw me as a sort of rock-and-roll guy and wouldn’t that be fun? I have to say from my perspective, I blew the whistle on that one too. We weren’t getting paid, and Charles is driving a Ferrari Berlinetta up and down the streets of Malibu. That almost provoked a fist fight.”

After two exciting, yet ultimately frustrating, shots at success and fame, Ned decided to regroup and set a course for personal fulfillment, and if it led to success or a recording career, so be it. “That’s when I went and took classical guitar [lessons from the Segovia disciple, Fred Noad]. I said, ‘Goddammit, I’m gonna pull my digits together and become more economical. Honestly, I would have to say that my first album was a direct result of the year of classical guitar I took. It woke me up… Acoustic guitars are like little pianos if they are played right. And they are also very percussive, so my sense of rhythm began to overwhelm my rational mind, because all of a sudden, it was as if my body got into the game and then everything changed again.”


Mama Cass, Ned Doheny, and Dave Mason. Photo by Clive Arrowsmith.

Mama Cass, Ned Doheny, and Dave Mason. Photo by Clive Arrowsmith.


With nothing on the horizon for him in Los Angeles, Ned did what most of his musician friends had already done in getting to L.A. in the first place—he hit the road. The only problem was that Ned was born in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so where should he go? “After a year of classical guitar, I had all this technique, but I didn’t have a style. I thought, ‘Well, here I am with all of this information, my hands are steel-like,’ so I loaded everything in my car and I thought if I have all this information and wanted to integrate it into something that made sense, what would you do? So, my ‘logical’ conclusion was, drive around the world. I was going to keep going until the lights came on. And the lights came on in England. And I wound up playing with journeyman Dave Mason [of Traffic] and Cass Elliot [of the Mamas and the Papas].”

Somewhere between L.A. and New York, Ned starting writing songs that he felt confident enough to share with friends and strangers alike, which naturally led to singing. “I started singing before I started playing guitar,” Ned explains. “I remember being a little kid in the third grade and there was a song we all knew, and it was just so much fun to open your pipes up. Some people are born with pipes and they sing effortlessly. I don’t really consider myself one of those people so blessed. I’ve worked really hard to get to where my intonation is sort of in the ball park, and every now and then I get off a good lick.”

“I wrote ‘On and On’ driving between Los Angeles and New York, and then when I got to England, I wrote ‘Trust Me’ sitting on the floor in Dave Mason’s living room. And he went, ‘Holy shit! Would you like to be in a band?’” After a few years kicking around the semi-pro music scene, Ned had identified his niche: “I was providing material, and that gave me a certain leverage. It was something I figured out early on; you wanna be one of those guys if you can be.”

Overnight, Ned went from an anonymous session player and scenester to being the “other guy” in an intercontinental super-group alongside the big mama (“She was the center of a rather large group of very famous people from that time”) from the Mamas and the Papas and Dave Fuckin’ Mason, the guy who wrote the hippie anthem “Feelin’ Alright.” It was a simple case of being in the right place at the right time. Ned remembers, “In those days, my voice was incredibly high, so I could fit rather neatly between Dave and Cass. It was quite lovely.”

Dave, Cass, and Ned continued rehearsing at Dave’s flat in London before decamping to L.A. to record an album for Blue Thumb. “Because of my association with Dave, we met everybody. I met all the Beatles, Eric Clapton, and for a twenty-one-year-old kid, I mean, wow!” Ned recalls. But before the trio entered the studio, an unease crept up on Ned once again. Dave’s manager was making Ned nervous. “I have no trouble being around extreme personalities, by and large, but it didn’t seem the smartest thing to base a long-term association on,” Ned explains about why he bailed from this possible career-defining opportunity. “But if you wanna know the truth, I was a pretty arrogant youth. It kept me from signing with Dave Mason’s people… They wanted to put me in some sort of supergroup, and I resisted it. I didn’t take direction well. I have to take some responsibility for this. I can’t just lay it at their feet.”


Ned Doheny, 1973


From Asylum to Exile

Linking back up with Jackson Browne back in L.A., Ned found that Browne “was kinda a little jealous because I had something going on with Dave and Cass and all that,” Ned recalls. “Then he got involved with [David] Geffen, and he sorta pulled me into that, and I began to meet all of these people in earnest. I met Graham [Nash]. I met David [Crosby]. Joni. We were all [about to become] label-mates.”

David Geffen branched out into the business of making music after being turned down by all the major labels as Jackson Browne’s agent. Geffen went all-in and quickly assembled a who’s who roster of young L.A.-based talent including Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, and the Eagles. “Jackson had introduced me, and he had a stable of considerable talent,” Ned says as one of the very first artists signed to the label. “I think David wanted me to be involved largely because Jackson spoke highly of me. I don’t think he really heard what I was doing,” Ned told Hoskyns in Hotel California.8 Geffen famously told future Eagles Don Henley and Glen Frey along with Ned that Asylum would never be larger than the number of artists he could fit in the Laurel Canyon sauna they were presently sweating in. Speaking for himself and the whole Laurel Canyon clique, Ned remembers, “I think we were so narcissistic that we could only really see our own arcs.”

New songs were coming fast and furious for Ned since the Mason-Elliott encounter, and an album came together rather quickly. Future New York Times critic Stephen Holden called it “a sort of Southern California Astral Weeks” in a gushing review in Rolling Stone. Holden described Doheny’s self-titled debut as “supremely laidback, acoustical jazz-rock that on first listening is pleasant, and after several more absorbing. He phrases like a cool jazz man, seldom using his voice other than as the leading line above a tightly coordinated instrumental texture.” No wonder Ned’s narcissism was running wild with lines like this: “among the better-known contemporary singer/songwriters, only James Taylor shows a similar tendency toward such aristocratic reserve, but Doheny carries this reserve much farther… The final impression Doheny leaves behind is one of prodigious musical intelligence combined with an attitude of serene resignation. It makes for a subtly intoxicating brew—good rainy day/Sunday afternoon listening.”9

Geffen sent Ned out on the road to promote the album, but refused to support a full band—it was a solo acoustic tour or nothing at all. But Ned wasn’t interested in writing or performing country-tinged acoustic pop songs, Asylum’s bread and butter in the early years. “I think that’s where David and I weren’t on the same page,” Ned explains. “Other than the fact that there were a lot of talented Black artists that were playing astonishing grooves, by and large, the ’70s was really a groove-free zone in a lot of ways. I mean, most of the grooves were very straightforward. But there didn’t really seem to be a point where there was an intersection of lyrics and rhythm. I think my stuff was kinda physical and maybe not universal enough [for Geffen]. Maybe the things I was saying did not seem universal to him. He never liked Steely Dan, for example.”

Ned signed a multiple-album deal, but after his debut took a nosedive, no thanks to Asylum, he knew he was not long with Geffen and company. “David’s original come-on was a handshake. If you want out, you’re out,” Ned says. “When I actually called him on that, it wasn’t nearly that simple.” Once again, Ned found himself turning away from the most direct path to fame and success. “I had the highest hopes imaginable [for the album], and once again I found myself in the situation of the agonizing reappraisal,” Ned says.


Above-Average White Friends

In the early to mid-’70s, the Laurel Canyon scene with all of its weed, whiskey, and women gave way to the cocaine and tequila debauchery of the Sunset Strip as newly rich canyon dwellers mingled with touring English rockers and Hollywood movie stars. “We were bedazzled,” admits Ned. “You’re with this actress and that producer, and all of sudden it becomes kind of racy and fun. It becomes that same grinding-out-your-cigar-on-the-outstretched-palms-of-the-poor that you fought so desperately to deny yourself when you were starting,” Ned told Hoskyns in Hotel California.10 Most of Ned’s struggling musician friends, like his buddies in the Eagles, were never in such a position to “deny” themselves anything in the years before their success; unlike Ned, back then they were just plain broke. With the money, success, and new “friends” came the need to show it off in glamorous nightclubs and venues.

As the optimism and naivety of the ’60s succumbed to the glamour and avarice of the ’70s, pop music began to reflect this evolution. The disco deluge was still a few years away, but its musical precursors were making waves on the pop charts as the singer-songwriter era gave way to slicker production and a blending of pop, rock, and soul sounds. Ned’s post-Asylum albums shed nearly all the trappings of the bucolic Laurel Canyon era (save his ubiquitous acoustic guitar grooves) in favor of a funkier and more urban sound. Moving in this new direction, Ned found he no longer had much in common musically with his is old Asylum label-mates and Laurel Canyon buddies. Ned was finding that the music business is a lonely place when you find yourself on the wrong side of a racial stereotype, that is, until he saw the Average White Band play the Troubadour on their first U.S. tour.

“We had all gone to the Troubadour and were absolutely stunned by how well these guys played and sang…some heavy-duty personalities came down to see them, too. They were a unit, clearly.” This group of funky White Scots hailed from Glasgow via London and, like Ned would soon discover on his own, the group struggled to reconcile their Black sound with their White image. The group’s initial triumph on the West Coast was short lived as their drummer, Robbie McIntosh, fatally snorted what he thought was coke (and turned out to be heroin) at a Beverly Hills party not long after their Troubadour residency. Their second album, and first on Atlantic, AWB (known as the “white album”) was released a month before and was still climbing the charts and turning heads from Marvin Gaye to James Brown.

“I met Hamish [Stuart] around the time that Robbie died of a drug overdose. [He] was Hamish’s closest friend, and when he died, Hamish was absolutely devastated,” Ned says. “Hamish was going out with a girl that I had gone out with, and [at the time] he had nodes on his vocal chords and couldn’t speak. I sort of took up a little of the space that was left by Robbie’s passing.” The two became friends very quickly, and, naturally, they found themselves hanging out and playing music together. “We sat down one night up at the house, and ‘A Love of Your Own’ was the first piece we ever wrote,” Ned recalls of the song that he would soon record, as would the Average White Band for their 1976 album Soul Searching. “And ‘Whatcha’ Gonna Do for Me’ was the second,” he continues. That song would be recorded by the Average White Band for their 1980 record Shine, and, more famously, by Chaka Khan on her 1981 Arif Mardin–produced album of the same name. “We were so terrified by that,” jokes Ned, “that we didn’t write anything else. Those two [songs] really did both of us a lot of good.”

Meeting Hamish and hanging out with these funky Scots really unlocked something musically for Ned. “Sometimes, rhythm can be very helpful to hook yourself in [to the music], and there’s nothing more fun than playing a groove,” Ned says. “I think I got sucked into that direction.” The demo of “A Love of Your Own” found its way to former MG and producer of dozens of classic Stax singles, Steve Cropper. The guys from Tower of Power also heard the song and loved it. “Based on that, I became friends with Tower of Power—that one song.”


Hard Candy


Cropper arranged a deal with Columbia, and soon Ned was in the studio working with one of his guitar heroes and the funkiest horn section west of the Mississippi, Tower of Power. Everyone had so much fun making the record, 1976’s Hard Candy, they decided to play a local show to debut the album. “It was one of the greatest moments ever. It was my stuff with Tower of Power behind it. That was so much fun.”

Hard Candy should have been Ned’s breakout release. The mellow and introspective sounds of the Eagles were consistently topping the charts mid-decade, and the disco fad was just beginning to take hold. Hard Candy was the perfect synthesis of these two popular trends, and even featured a number of contemporary hit-makers and friends of Ned’s like Eagles Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and honorary Eagle J. D. Souther, alongside Linda Ronstadt, Hamish Stuart, Tower of Power, and Steve Cropper. With the weight of one of the biggest and most respected major labels behind the album and Ned’s shirtless and glistening torso adorning the cover in a quintessential California beachside setting (Baja), it’s surprising the album found such little traction. “A Love of Your Own” was the first single, which managed to encourage some decent cover versions by better known artists like Millie Jackson and Average White Band, but the more obvious single was considered too racy. “Strangely enough, ‘Get It Up for Love’ was considered too risqué at the time,” Ned says. “This was before rap and hip-hop made casual vulgarity a part of the American musical landscape. ‘Get It Up for Love’ was actually banned in Boston. Hard to believe.

“We had high hopes for Hard Candy, but in those days the record company called the shots. They decided who got the funding and who was left by the wayside. I was in competition, stylistically speaking, with Boz Scaggs and an artist named Walter Egan,” Ned adds. The album sold poorly stateside, though, like with his Asylum album, it sold well in Japan and the U.K. Hard Candy is definitive L.A. light funk, sounding like a jazzier, more introspective Silk Degrees, Boz Scaggs’s 1976 multiplatinum release. “Essentially, I was overlooked on one label to go to another label and be overlooked.” Ned had more than a couple things in common with the more successful blue-eyed light funkateers, but unlike Fagen and Becker, Hall and Oates, Boz Scaggs, or AWB, he never crossed over to Black radio and record buyers. His slick singer-songwriter grooves might have been a bit too funky for White audiences more comfortable with the Tin Pan Alley and jazzy flavors of the Dan, the pop soul of Hall and Oates, or Boz’s bluesy grooves. Or maybe, as Ned suggested, “It was not my time,” seeing as how Boz’s breakout hit—the legendary blue-eyed-soul groove “Lowdown” off his album Silk Degrees—was released the same year.

Columbia must have imagined Ned still had potential, because they quickly green-lit a second album with Cropper producing. Despite Ned’s comment that “Prone was probably the sketchiest in terms of the amount of prep that went in to it,” it stands up to the high quality of Hard Candy if not surpassing it. After the album was in the can, Columbia’s big wigs had second thoughts and sat on the record. While the U.S. release was indefinitely postponed, a T.V.-mix (slightly different mix made for a televised appearance) of “To Prove My Love” was released in the U.K. and Japan featuring a vocal chorus that Ned had not originally intended on using. The song became an underground dance hit in the U.K., receiving a 12-inch disco single pressing.“[It] was a big dance record in England, and I had no idea about it,” Ned says. “It would have never enjoyed what it enjoyed in England if that vocal had not been there. I know that,” Ned says sheepishly, as he had initially resisted adding a vocal to the sly instrumental funk groove.




Big in Japan

“It was the end of 1977,” Ned remembers, “I had been dropped by CBS, my girlfriend moved out, and a really close friend of mine lost his leg in an automobile accident and was convalescing in the second bedroom of my house, and I was emptying bedpans and chain-smoking Camels. I got this strange request: ‘Would you consider going to Japan and playing?’ I thought, ‘It’s gotta be better than what I’m feeling at the moment, so sure, why not?’” Japanese fans had been following Ned since his Asylum debut, which became an in-demand import (“People would get the album, tape it, and sell it for hundreds of dollars”). Hard Candy saw a Japanese release, and then came Ned’s triumphant tour in 1978. “I had the best time,” Ned says of the Japanese tour. “I actually went from complete and total obscurity to being a celebrity, and it was one of the greatest things ever.”

CBS Japan released Ned’s neglected Prone in 1979 for all of the new and old Japanese fans. “They identify me with California,” he says. “They see it as sort of an idyllic escape from the kind of insular crowding that they grow up in in their own country. In their mind, this place sprawls, and the sun shines on them, and there are girls with big asses that don’t exist in Japan.” For over thirty years, ever since his U.S. recording career disappeared, Ned’s been supported by his Japanese fans. “Japan keeps bringing me back to life, not just in terms of some sort of music thing, but bringing me back to life in terms of bringing me to another level of endeavor without even trying to. I have this great relationship with Japan.” (His next two solo albums, 1988’s Life After Romance and 1993’s Between Two Worlds, and an acoustic live album, 1991’s Postcards from Hollywood, were all recorded for the Japanese market, coinciding with the Japanese radio show he hosted, also called Postcards from Hollywood, from 1990 to ’93. He was even asked to write a song for the city of Yokohama: “They have that beautiful bridge, just this gorgeous suspension bridge that’s really a breathtaker, and they’re really proud of it. They wanted me to write about it.”)

When he wasn’t playing a celebrity in Japan, Ned continued living and hustling in L.A. In 1981, he landed one of his best songs with one of his favorite singers. “I’m in the vocal booth singing,” he explains, as he was tracking a vocal on a demo for his buddies in AWB, “and this head pops in, and it’s Chaka Khan. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, here I am in brilliant whiteness, and [here’s] probably one of the top three R&B singers on earth—totally unique.’ She said, ‘Do you mind if I come in and sing with you?’ Be still my heart. I was singing with great care. As we were walking back to the control booth, she said, ‘You really sing beautifully. You have such great control,’” Ned recalls fondly. Chaka took the song, “Whatcha Gonna Do for Me,” to her producer Arif Mardin, suggesting she include it on her third solo album. Mardin couldn’t hear a hit in AWB’s version, but Chaka was undeterred. Chaka’s manager contacted Ned asking him for a copy of the demo with Ned’s vocal on it as Chaka was convinced that this version was the direction she wanted to take the song. “That’s how the tune got covered,” Ned explains about one of his biggest hits as a songwriter.

“Chances are if I had done everything that [the record label] suggested I do, I probably would’ve been more successful than I turned out to be, but there’s also the question of one’s path,” Ned says, turning the lens back on himself. “What is your path? Why are you doing what you’re doing? To me, music is a really great way to initiate the beginning of an internal life, to start a dialogue between the outside and the inside. In a way, it’s like analysis, self-regulated.” Ned’s comfortable upbringing as the heir to a massive oil fortune endowed him with the freedom that most serious musicians envy, and a nuanced perspective that most showbiz veterans lack. The freedom to walk away from potentially lucrative opportunities for fear of diluting his craft is something that Ned is simultaneously proud of and remorseful about. Who knows what might have transpired if Ned had been an obedient and malleable musician at the various record labels he briefly called home. Ultimately, it was the financial security Ned enjoyed and his family’s negative associations with fame that led him down his own path to become an underground hero and supporting player in the artistic and commercial bonanza of 1970s California pop music.


1. Holzman, Jac & Daws, Gavan, Follow the Music, Chapter 16
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. Holzman, Jac & Daws, Gavan, Follow the Music, Chapter 17
5. Hoskyns Barney, Hotel California, 2006, pg. 28
6. Holzman, Jac & Daws, Gavan, Follow the Music, Chapter 17
7. Hosykns, Barney, Hotel California, 2006, pg. 28
8. Hosykns, Barney, Hotel California, 2006, pg. 136
9. Holden, Stephen, Album Review of Ned Doheny S/T, Rolling Stone, July 19, 1973
10. Hosykns, Barney, Hotel California, 2006, pg. 219

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4 Responses

  1. I discovered Ned last year and ‘Hard Candy’ quickly became one of my favorite records I have ever heard. I enjoy most of his catalog, but that album in particular stands out to me as a lost ’70s masterpiece. Thanks so much for this awesome look at an oft forgotten talent!

    – Mike
  2. My youngest niece is a huge fan of Ned. She discovered him through a fellow college friend and has introduced him to all of us. Great article!

  3. The “Hard Candy” album is absolutely one of my favorites. I remeber it from the 1970’s and was recently reintroduced to it. The story of Ned life in music is fascinating. Thanks for the indepth article.

    – Geoff DuBois
  4. And, it was Terry Melcher’s Benedict Canyon home, on Cielo Dr, rented out to Sharon
    Tate and Roman Polanski that ended in grotesque tragedy, along with Sharon’s friends.

    – Ego Sum

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