Manhattan Beach's Don Jung recalls stories about the Los Angeles music scene during the Vietnam era and his encounters with The Doors, Janice Joplin and other legends in his first book “Rockin' Through Troubled Waters: Memoir – Surviving the West Coast Music Scene 1966-1971.”
He'll be discussing the book at Pages bookstore in Manhattan Beach Saturday, April 27, from noon to 5 p.m., as part of Independent Bookstore Day.
The retired CPA said he was inspired to put his stories in print when he was visiting his daughter, Christina, in Hilo, Hawaii and the volcano was erupting. She was 20 miles north of the lava flow and packing her belongings. They had no electricity and no phone service, so Jung began reminiscing. Christina told her father that he should write down the stories.
“But I was a nobody in the music business," said Jung, "I knew these people, they were famous, I wasn't."
Jung worked behind-the-scenes in various capacities during his college years. He helped songwriters record their demos at the studio run by Don Altfeld, who co-wrote hits like “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena).” He worked on sound systems for groups like Three Dog Night and Iron Butterfly.
After graduating from junior college, he started summer school at UCLA in 1966. One of his roommates worked on the light show at Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood and needed help with carrying equipment.
At the time, The Doors were the house band, so he saw them perform 10 times before the band, with Jim Morrison on lead, was fired for singing the controversial song “The End.” He saw The Doors perform two more times before they released their first album in January 1967.
But “Rockin' Through Troubled Water” is not only about the music that permeated the L.A. area, from Janis Joplin to Buffalo Springfield, but the turmoil of the times and the Vietnam War that raged thousands of miles away.
The week before he graduated college, he was at the Ambassador Hotel, in another room, when Robert Kennedy was shot. He remembered Vietnam War demonstrations around the country including a deadly one in L.A.
“There was a demonstration in east L.A. where 30,000 people came and some guy was robbing a liquor store,” Jung said. “He ran into the 30,000 and so the L.A. police decided to throw tear gas canisters from helicopter. It killed four people. A lot of people don't remember how scary of a time it was.”
Other authors taking part in Independent Bookstore Day are Lambert Block (“Palawan Passage”), Janet Clare (“Time is the Shortest Distance”), Gene Desrochers (“ Dark Passage: A Caribbean Noir Murder Mystery”), Annette Derovanessian (“ Annette's Kitchen: Family Food Made Fun and Healthy”) and Salvo Lavis (“Once Upon a Weasel”).
For more information, visit pagesabookstore.com.