Home

“McKeen reaches for the stars and for the most part, he gets there.”

Click on the book cover to order. A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

That’s from Under the Radar. Here’s more from that magazine’s review: “Everybody Had an Ocean is as engaging a tale of ’60s-era music as any that one will read. Even the most ardent historian will find something new in the histories presented, or at the very least see them in a new light. And, more importantly, McKeen’s text strips away any pretension from the artists and presents them in a normal, more humanistic light. Words aren’t minced. Feelings aren’t protected under the guise of artistic genius. These were real people, living in real times, with strengths and weaknesses like anyone, displayed under normal, real-life circumstance. Could Everybody Had an Ocean be accused of overreaching? Perhaps. But like the artists he profiles, McKeen reaches for the stars. And for the most part, he gets there.” Under the Radar

“… a sprawling, entertaining, and sometime lurid, narrative about artists who, bursting with creative energy, converged in L.A.”  Booklist

“Excellent social history…” “an indispensable account of a time of beauty and terror.”  Kirkus Reviews [starred review]

“Music lovers will devour this book as I did. McKeen ties together so many musicians and groups that my head was spinning, but in good way, because I had no idea how much all of these artists worked and partied together. A pleasure to read.” Five-star Amazon review

Imagine Manson on American Idol

The scary little dude wanted a record contract. When he didn’t get it, he ordered his minions to kill in order to scare the shit out of Los Angeles’s music community.

If Charles Manson had taken the game-show road to stardom, who knows what would’ve happened?

The picture that introduced Charles Manson to the world.

The peace, love and flowers ethos of the era allowed this career criminal to infiltrate the artistic community. With his long hair and arsenal of gibberish, he seemed the model of a hippie, hanging out with Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Neil Young, who recommended Manson to the president of Warner Bros Records. (He passed.)

Manson’s story is one of dozens in Everybody Had an Ocean, an epic tale about the intersection of music and crime in 1960s Los Angeles. It’s available at bookstores and the usual online locations.

The Beach Boys in 1962 at Paradise Cove, Malibu, California. Left to right: Dennis Wilson, David Marks, Carl Wilson, Mike Love and Brian Wilson.

I’m the author, William McKeen, and this site introduces you to my books and my other work. I hope you find this all of interest.

Here’s what people have had to say about the book:

Everybody Had an Ocean is a fascinating, hypnotic look at the underside of the California dream. With smooth prose and keen reporting. William McKeen peels back the facade of peace and love and thoroughly examines the dark heart behind a generation of music. This is binge reading at its best.”
MICHAEL CONNELLY
author of The Lincoln Lawyer and The Wrong Side of Goodbye

Portrait of the Lizard King as a young man: chubby-cheeked Jim Morrison.

“People say the Sixties died at Altamont, but William McKeen makes a compelling case that it was really Charlie Manson who brought down the flowered curtain. Everybody Had an Ocean sets a generation’s soundtrack to the improbable true tale of a scrawny career thief who befriended a Beach Boy, almost got himself a record deal, and then unleashed a spacey band of murderers on Los Angeles. Few novelists could dream up such a plot.”
CARL HIAASEN
author of Hoot and Razor Girl

“William McKeen’s Everybody Had an Ocean brilliantly illuminates the day-glo rise of Los Angeles as a counterculture Mecca. The back pages of high-octane rock n’ roll history are ably explored by McKeen. And once again, the Beach Boys reign supreme.”
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY
author of Cronkite

Carol Kaye of the Wrecking Crew. Her bass launched a thousand hits.

“A widescreen, meticulously-researched account of how Los Angeles – the seedbed of surf-pop and folk-rock – became the epicenter of American music in the 1960s. McKeen follows the thread from the Beach Boys’ sunny innocence to Manson’s noir horrors – via Phil Spector, Jim Morrison, and a supporting cast of hundreds – and brings the music of the City of Angels brilliantly to life.”
BARNEY HOSKYNS
author of Small Town Talk and Hotel California

“William McKeen’s Everybody Had an Ocean offers a detailed snapshot of the creative fertility, debauchery and importance of a signal moment in pop music history. Highly recommended.”
CHARLES L. GRANATA
author of Wouldn’t it Be Nice

That’s Neil Young at left, with his first band, The Squires. Despite being landlocked in Winnipeg, their first recording, “The Sultan,” was a model of surf-music twang.


Here’s a list of my books. Be sure to check out the pages devoted to the books on this site.

Books by William McKeen

Everybody Had an Ocean, a nonfiction narrative, 2017
Too Old to Die Young, a collection, 2015
Homegrown in Florida, an anthology, 2012
Mile Marker Zero, a nonfiction narrative, 2011
Outlaw Journalist, a biography, 2008
Highway 61, a memoir, 2003
Rock and Roll is Here to Stay, an anthology, 2000
Literary Journalism: A Reader, 2000
Tom Wolfe, a critical biography, 1995
Bob Dylan: A Bio-Bibliography, 1993
Hunter S. Thompson, a critical biography, 1991
The Beatles: A Bio-Bibliography, 1989
The American Story, an anthology, 1975

For more about these books and my  other work, click on titles or the  ‘Books’ and ‘Other Writing’ tabs above. Students looking for my course outlines will find them under the ‘Courses’ tab.

Entire contents copyright   2017 by William McKeen

News

Recent work

Read ‘Gonzo Without End, Amen,’ from the forthcoming ‘Fear and Loathing Worldwide’
Read ‘Charles Manson and the Perversion of the American Dream’ from The Conversation

McKeen weaves his story with a natural storyteller’s grace.”

As far as I can tell, that’s the first time the word grace has ever appeared in a sentence with my name. (The review is from Under the Radar.)

Everybody Had an Ocean  is available at fine bookstores everywhere, but if you are too lazy to go visit one of those wonderful places, you can order the book through IndieBound, a community of independent bookstores. You can get it at all the usual places, of course.

For example: here is the Amazon link.

Click on the picture of Dennis Wilson above to read the review from the Houston Press.

I interviewed all of the Beach Boys over the years, except for Brian Wilson. A writing partner interviewed him for a story we were working on in the mid-1970s. He said talking to Brian was like talking to a throw pillow.

I think he’s a lot better off now.

Click on the image of Joni Mitchell and David Crosby above to read the review from Under the Radar.

Beyond the Beach Boys, Everybody had an Ocean has an impressive cast of characters, including Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, Charles Manson, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Sam Cooke, Tina Turner, Bobby Fuller, Phil Spector and an buttload of others. It’s a history of Los Angeles rock’n’roll in the 1960s, with a focus on the crossroads of the music business and crime.

The Current said “Everybody Had an Ocean is a great read, one that offers real insights into the burgeoning L.A. music scene in the ’60s.”

Click on the photo of Buffalo Springfield above to read the Tampa Bay Times review.

I post a lot of things related to the book on Facebook:  videos of the artists I profile performing, for example.

Check out the book’s Facebook page. 

 

Click on the montage above to learn more about the characters in the story.

People talk to me about stuff
and / or I write about other stuff

Long-distance friends

That’s young Charley McKeen on the left and the young man next to me is Rory Patrick Feehan, who is writing his doctoral dissertation on Hunter S. Thompson at the University of Limerick. This was at Durty Nelly’s in Bunratty and the photo was taken by the hostess,  Maeve,  the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.

During a summer trip to Ireland,   I met two Hunter S. Thompson scholars — Martin Flynn in Dublin and Rory Patrick Feehan in Limerick.

Martin runs the HST Books website, and Rory manages Totally Gonzo. We’d corresponded for years, but these were the first face-to-face meetings.

Oddly,  they have never met, but they promise to get together soon and wrestle nude in creamed corn.

With Marty Flynn in Dublin. Photo by Cathy Wyse

Health update

Two years after multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation,  I remain cancer-free.

Last spring I had a gastric-sleeve operation, which makes for a total of 10 surgeries in two years. We’re hoping this surgery will help us avoid more surgeries down the road. In the aftermath of this surgery, my stomach was reduced by three-fourths and I have little interest in eating other than that which is needed to stay alive.

I have lost 80 pounds in six months. I feel pretty darn good.

 

That’s me during my Western Kentucky University years. Photograph by John Rott.

Rockin’ in the free world

When the semester isn’t in session, I feel like a nuclear power plant that’s been shut down.

This marks my 40th year as a college teacher and I’ve never gotten tired of it. I’ve never even had a sabbatical.

Congratulating Maggie Day on her graduation from the University of Florida. (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson)

I taught at Western Kentucky University 1977-1982, at the University of Oklahoma 1982-1986, at the University of Florida, 1986-2010 and at Boston University, 2010 until today.

There were giants in those days. Here I am in November 1989 with my University of Florida colleague Jon Roosenraad — he’s in the Detroit Bad Boys sweatshirt; I remain loyal to Indiana University — with two of the all-time greats: Mary Shedden, at left, now news director at the public radio station in Tampa, and Kathy Rohrbach Laughlin,  longtime editor at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Poor Kathy is getting squished.

If you were in one of my classes, I’d love to hear from you at wmckeen@bu.edu.

I keep up with a lot of former students on Facebook, which I use as a sort of illustrated Rolodex of my life. It’s good to see how everyone’s doing.

Being a teacher is a lifetime commitment, so let me know if I can do anything to help you.

Take care.

Biography

The Story of Me

Author, teacher, father of seven and really swell guy.

I can’t tell you how good that felt.

That’s me (right) in my favorite outfit, when we lived in Warrington, England in the late 1950s. I was born in Indianapolis, and grew up in Warrington; Weisbaden, Germany; Omaha, Nebraska; Homestead, Florida; and Fort Worth, Texas.

This idyllic-looking town (below) is Cohasset, Massachusetts, where I live. Yes, it really is that pretty.

Sometimes, I feel as if I live in a Norman Rockwell painting. This town is rosy-cheeked wholesome and we even have milkmen here.

Every spring, all the townspeople gather for the annual baseball parade. We meet on the Common and then, with the high school’s marching band, we walk to the baseball field, where we raise the American flag, sing the national anthem, then draw straws and stone to death the person with the shortest straw.

The quintessential New England town, as I say.

Here’s a photo I took of the Cohasset shore in winter ….

Okay, that’s enough Chamber of Commerce stuff for a while. Onto my life history.

If you think you crossed paths with me in childhood, please keep in touch. I’m always on the lookout for old friends — Alan Rinehart, Paul Franks, Ricky Wilson (who nicknamed my big brother ‘Bowels’) and the eternally beautiful Mary Savage.

Back to the family ….

I don’t have a lot of pictures of my father because he was always the one with the camera. Here we are in our England days. That’s my mother — in a cool Norwegian sweater — holding me while brother Charles and sister Suzanne flank her.

My father was a flight surgeon in the Air Force, hence all of our moves. He retired from the service and opened a private practice in Bloomington, Indiana, which is as close as I have to a hometown. I was in the last class to ever graduate from University High School in Bloomington,  and earned two degrees at Indiana University.

As a grownup, I’ve lived in Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Florida and Massachusetts.

I began working for daily newspapers when I was 14 — first  the Courier-Tribune in Bloomington, Indiana, and then the Palm Beach Post in Florida. I  later worked for a couple of magazines, The American Spectator and The Saturday Evening Post. After beginning my teaching career, I worked for the Norman Transcript in Oklahoma, the Gainesville Sun in Florida, the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Tampa Bay Times. In addition, I did contract work for the Associated Press and two radio stations in Oklahoma City, WKY and KGOU.

As a young and poorly dressed reporter, The Courier-Tribune, Bloomington, Indiana, September 1973. 

I fell into academia and began my teaching career at Western Kentucky University. I taught there for five years, then moved to the University of Oklahoma, where I earned a doctorate while serving as faculty member and assistant director of the school of journalism and mass communication. After four years,  I joined the journalism faculty at the University of Florida. I was there for 24 years and chaired the journalism department for the last 12 years there.

I moved to Boston University in 2010 and I chair its journalism department.

Click on my resume for the gory details.

C’est Moi!

I have seven children: Sarah, a designer who lives in Brooklyn; Graham, a university administrator in Indiana; Mary, a nightlife impresario in Chicago; Savannah, a college student in Florida; and Jack, Travis and Charley, young scholars in Cohasset. They are all active in sports and music, which means that my main function in life is to be a chauffeur. But I love it.

In addition, I have two granddaughters, Mabel (daughter of Graham and wife Amanda) and Pearl (daughter of Sarah and partner David).

I’ve written or edited 13 books and you can learn the details here.

I love teaching and I consider myself on call for anyone who’s ever been in one of my classes. Say hello: wmckeen@bu.edu.

I love hearing from former students — and there are a lot of them. I’ve been teaching for more than 40 years. It’s been a supreme pleasure.

In the words of Joe Walsh, “Life’s been good to me so far.”

WM

 

News

Recent work

Read ‘Gonzo Without End, Amen,’ from the forthcoming ‘Fear and Loathing Worldwide’
Read ‘Charles Manson and the Perversion of the American Dream’ from The Conversation

McKeen weaves his story with a natural storyteller’s grace.”

As far as I can tell, that’s the first time the word grace has ever appeared in a sentence with my name. (The review is from Under the Radar.)

Everybody Had an Ocean  is available at fine bookstores everywhere, but if you are too lazy to go visit one of those wonderful places, you can order the book through IndieBound, a community of independent bookstores. You can get it at all the usual places, of course.

For example: here is the Amazon link.

Click on the picture of Dennis Wilson above to read the review from the Houston Press.

I interviewed all of the Beach Boys over the years, except for Brian Wilson. A writing partner interviewed him for a story we were working on in the mid-1970s. He said talking to Brian was like talking to a throw pillow.

I think he’s a lot better off now.

Click on the image of Joni Mitchell and David Crosby above to read the review from Under the Radar.

Beyond the Beach Boys, Everybody had an Ocean has an impressive cast of characters, including Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, Charles Manson, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Sam Cooke, Tina Turner, Bobby Fuller, Phil Spector and an buttload of others. It’s a history of Los Angeles rock’n’roll in the 1960s, with a focus on the crossroads of the music business and crime.

The Current said “Everybody Had an Ocean is a great read, one that offers real insights into the burgeoning L.A. music scene in the ’60s.”

Click on the photo of Buffalo Springfield above to read the Tampa Bay Times review.

I post a lot of things related to the book on Facebook:  videos of the artists I profile performing, for example.

Check out the book’s Facebook page. 

 

Click on the montage above to learn more about the characters in the story.

People talk to me about stuff
and / or I write about other stuff

Long-distance friends

That’s young Charley McKeen on the left and the young man next to me is Rory Patrick Feehan, who is writing his doctoral dissertation on Hunter S. Thompson at the University of Limerick. This was at Durty Nelly’s in Bunratty and the photo was taken by the hostess,  Maeve,  the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.

During a summer trip to Ireland,   I met two Hunter S. Thompson scholars — Martin Flynn in Dublin and Rory Patrick Feehan in Limerick.

Martin runs the HST Books website, and Rory manages Totally Gonzo. We’d corresponded for years, but these were the first face-to-face meetings.

Oddly,  they have never met, but they promise to get together soon and wrestle nude in creamed corn.

With Marty Flynn in Dublin. Photo by Cathy Wyse

Health update

Two years after multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation,  I remain cancer-free.

Last spring I had a gastric-sleeve operation, which makes for a total of 10 surgeries in two years. We’re hoping this surgery will help us avoid more surgeries down the road. In the aftermath of this surgery, my stomach was reduced by three-fourths and I have little interest in eating other than that which is needed to stay alive.

I have lost 80 pounds in six months. I feel pretty darn good.

 

That’s me during my Western Kentucky University years. Photograph by John Rott.

Rockin’ in the free world

When the semester isn’t in session, I feel like a nuclear power plant that’s been shut down.

This marks my 40th year as a college teacher and I’ve never gotten tired of it. I’ve never even had a sabbatical.

Congratulating Maggie Day on her graduation from the University of Florida. (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson)

I taught at Western Kentucky University 1977-1982, at the University of Oklahoma 1982-1986, at the University of Florida, 1986-2010 and at Boston University, 2010 until today.

There were giants in those days. Here I am in November 1989 with my University of Florida colleague Jon Roosenraad — he’s in the Detroit Bad Boys sweatshirt; I remain loyal to Indiana University — with two of the all-time greats: Mary Shedden, at left, now news director at the public radio station in Tampa, and Kathy Rohrbach Laughlin,  longtime editor at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Poor Kathy is getting squished.

If you were in one of my classes, I’d love to hear from you at wmckeen@bu.edu.

I keep up with a lot of former students on Facebook, which I use as a sort of illustrated Rolodex of my life. It’s good to see how everyone’s doing.

Being a teacher is a lifetime commitment, so let me know if I can do anything to help you.

Take care.

“McKeen reaches for the stars and for the most part, he gets there.”

Click on the book cover to order. A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

That’s from Under the Radar. Here’s more from that magazine’s review: “Everybody Had an Ocean is as engaging a tale of ’60s-era music as any that one will read. Even the most ardent historian will find something new in the histories presented, or at the very least see them in a new light. And, more importantly, McKeen’s text strips away any pretension from the artists and presents them in a normal, more humanistic light. Words aren’t minced. Feelings aren’t protected under the guise of artistic genius. These were real people, living in real times, with strengths and weaknesses like anyone, displayed under normal, real-life circumstance. Could Everybody Had an Ocean be accused of overreaching? Perhaps. But like the artists he profiles, McKeen reaches for the stars. And for the most part, he gets there.” Under the Radar

“… a sprawling, entertaining, and sometime lurid, narrative about artists who, bursting with creative energy, converged in L.A.”  Booklist

“Excellent social history…” “an indispensable account of a time of beauty and terror.”  Kirkus Reviews [starred review]

“Music lovers will devour this book as I did. McKeen ties together so many musicians and groups that my head was spinning, but in good way, because I had no idea how much all of these artists worked and partied together. A pleasure to read.” Five-star Amazon review

Imagine Manson on American Idol

The scary little dude wanted a record contract. When he didn’t get it, he ordered his minions to kill in order to scare the shit out of Los Angeles’s music community.

If Charles Manson had taken the game-show road to stardom, who knows what would’ve happened?

The picture that introduced Charles Manson to the world.

The peace, love and flowers ethos of the era allowed this career criminal to infiltrate the artistic community. With his long hair and arsenal of gibberish, he seemed the model of a hippie, hanging out with Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Neil Young, who recommended Manson to the president of Warner Bros Records. (He passed.)

Manson’s story is one of dozens in Everybody Had an Ocean, an epic tale about the intersection of music and crime in 1960s Los Angeles. It’s available at bookstores and the usual online locations.

The Beach Boys in 1962 at Paradise Cove, Malibu, California. Left to right: Dennis Wilson, David Marks, Carl Wilson, Mike Love and Brian Wilson.

I’m the author, William McKeen, and this site introduces you to my books and my other work. I hope you find this all of interest.

Here’s what people have had to say about the book:

Everybody Had an Ocean is a fascinating, hypnotic look at the underside of the California dream. With smooth prose and keen reporting. William McKeen peels back the facade of peace and love and thoroughly examines the dark heart behind a generation of music. This is binge reading at its best.”
MICHAEL CONNELLY
author of The Lincoln Lawyer and The Wrong Side of Goodbye

Portrait of the Lizard King as a young man: chubby-cheeked Jim Morrison.

“People say the Sixties died at Altamont, but William McKeen makes a compelling case that it was really Charlie Manson who brought down the flowered curtain. Everybody Had an Ocean sets a generation’s soundtrack to the improbable true tale of a scrawny career thief who befriended a Beach Boy, almost got himself a record deal, and then unleashed a spacey band of murderers on Los Angeles. Few novelists could dream up such a plot.”
CARL HIAASEN
author of Hoot and Razor Girl

“William McKeen’s Everybody Had an Ocean brilliantly illuminates the day-glo rise of Los Angeles as a counterculture Mecca. The back pages of high-octane rock n’ roll history are ably explored by McKeen. And once again, the Beach Boys reign supreme.”
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY
author of Cronkite

Carol Kaye of the Wrecking Crew. Her bass launched a thousand hits.

“A widescreen, meticulously-researched account of how Los Angeles – the seedbed of surf-pop and folk-rock – became the epicenter of American music in the 1960s. McKeen follows the thread from the Beach Boys’ sunny innocence to Manson’s noir horrors – via Phil Spector, Jim Morrison, and a supporting cast of hundreds – and brings the music of the City of Angels brilliantly to life.”
BARNEY HOSKYNS
author of Small Town Talk and Hotel California

“William McKeen’s Everybody Had an Ocean offers a detailed snapshot of the creative fertility, debauchery and importance of a signal moment in pop music history. Highly recommended.”
CHARLES L. GRANATA
author of Wouldn’t it Be Nice

That’s Neil Young at left, with his first band, The Squires. Despite being landlocked in Winnipeg, their first recording, “The Sultan,” was a model of surf-music twang.


Here’s a list of my books. Be sure to check out the pages devoted to the books on this site.

Books by William McKeen

Everybody Had an Ocean, a nonfiction narrative, 2017
Too Old to Die Young, a collection, 2015
Homegrown in Florida, an anthology, 2012
Mile Marker Zero, a nonfiction narrative, 2011
Outlaw Journalist, a biography, 2008
Highway 61, a memoir, 2003
Rock and Roll is Here to Stay, an anthology, 2000
Literary Journalism: A Reader, 2000
Tom Wolfe, a critical biography, 1995
Bob Dylan: A Bio-Bibliography, 1993
Hunter S. Thompson, a critical biography, 1991
The Beatles: A Bio-Bibliography, 1989
The American Story, an anthology, 1975

For more about these books and my  other work, click on titles or the  ‘Books’ and ‘Other Writing’ tabs above. Students looking for my course outlines will find them under the ‘Courses’ tab.

Entire contents copyright   2017 by William McKeen