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

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

“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.

But it would be a great favor if you would go into your local bookstore several times a day — in disguise, if need be — and request the book.

Be a pain in the ass. It’s true: the best publicity is word of mouth. Phone calls work too. If you’re feeling frisky, throw in some heavy breathing.

Interviewing Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys on Sept. 1, 1974. Little did I know, I was already researching ‘Everybody Had an Ocean.’

Did I mention that I have seven children and I promised them that if I sold enough books we could go back to three meals a day?

I wrote this book while undergoing cancer treatment and was able to put together a story I’d wanted to write for a long time — 30 years, at least.

I interviewed all of the Beach Boys — except Brian Wilson — several times during the early 1970s. That was one of Brian’s lowest points and he did not appear in concert. Sorry to miss that opportunity, but a writing partner interviewed him in that era and said it was sort of like talking to a throw pillow.

Glad he is in better shape 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.

I’m very happy with the book. Buy it and you will be too.

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.”

That review — available immediately below — focuses attention  on the non-crime elements of the book.

Click on the image of the Mamas and the Papas above to read the review in The Current

The reviews have all been positive and, of course, hearing from people who’ve read it and liked it — mostly through Facebook — means a lot to me.

Speaking of Facebook, I post a lot of things related to the book — videos of the artists I profile performing, for example. So check out the Facebook page devoted to the book. Go ahead and like the page. It don’t cost nothin’.

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

I’ve done a publicity blast, mostly on radio:

  • Here I am on the Majic Morning Show in Cleveland, yakking about the book. Start listening at 40:05.
  • You can hear me in St. Louis on KTRS, in Oklahoma City on KTOK, in Minneapolis on KQRS, in Albuquerque on KZRR and in Danbury, Connecticut, on WLAD., and WMJI in Cleveland.
  • I also recorded two national interviews with iHeart Media and Premiere Satellite. If you have affiliates of those networks in your area, call up and demand that they replay the interviews.
  • Here‘s my 10-minute interview with Ryan Gatenby on Chicago’s WBIG-AM, which features a shout to my daughter — and famed Chicago nightlife figure — Mary Grace McKeen.

Here are a couple of interviews about the book:

Here is a digest of reviews, from Chicago Review Press.

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

An L.A. soundtrack of the 1960s

Click the record label  to hear Los Angeles rock from The Beach Boys to Charles Manson.

This soundtrack to Everybody Had an Ocean features  The Doors, Joni Mitchell, The Byrds, Jackie DeShannon, Sam Cooke, Tina TurnerBuffalo Springfield, The Ronettes  Jan & Dean and many others.

Many of the tracks feature the great artists of the Wrecking Crew: Hal Blaine on drums, Carol Kaye on bass, Tommy Tedesco, Barney Kessel, Bill Pittman and Glen Campbell on guitars, Leon Russell and Larry Knechtel on bass and keyboard, Don Randi on keyboards … the honor roll goes on and on. Whether working with Phil Spector or Brian Wilson or any other hot-shot LA record producer, the Wrecking Crew — the Clique, as Carol Kaye called the informal group — was the best in the business.

In my mind, this soundtrack ends with ‘Summer’s Gone’ by the Beach Boys. The last two songs on the playlist are bonus tracks:

  • “Never Learn Not to Love” by the Beach Boys, which is Dennis Wilson‘s reworking of Charles Manson’s ‘Cease to Exist.’ This gets the full Beach Boys production treatment. It was released on the Beach Boys album 20/20 in 1969.
  • “Look at Your Game, Girl” is a demo by Charles Manson

If you ever wanted to know what Manson sounded like when singing, here is your chance.

People talk to me about stuff

Appearances in news stories as an ‘expert’ :

Long-distance friends

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, enough, they have never met, though they promise they will get together soon and wrestle nude in creamed corn and send me photographic evidence.

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, a woman named Maeve, who may be the most beautiful example of humanity I’ve ever seen.
Me with Marty Flynn at the Ginger Man in Dublin. Photo by Cathy Wyse

Health update

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

This 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 70 pounds in five 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)

This fall, I’ll team-teach the journalism section of the new introductory course for our college of communication — my partner will be Noelle Graves.

I’ll also teach The Literature of Journalism and the Graduate Symposium in Journalism.

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 since 2010.

There were giants in those days. Here I am 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 looks as if she’s being squished. This was in November 1989.

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.

Take care.

Bio

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 and later worked for a couple of magazines, The American Spectator and The Saturday Evening Post.

As a young and somewhat poorly dressed reporter, The Courier-Tribune, Bloomington, Indiana, September 1973. Photo by Neil Sharrow.

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. I left after four years to join 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.

Here is my resume if you want 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).

A daily ritual: worshipping at the altar of a newspaper.

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.

I love hearing from former students — and there are a lot of them. This fall will mark my 40th year as a teacher. It’s been a supreme pleasure.

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

WM

 

News

“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.

But it would be a great favor if you would go into your local bookstore several times a day — in disguise, if need be — and request the book.

Be a pain in the ass. It’s true: the best publicity is word of mouth. Phone calls work too. If you’re feeling frisky, throw in some heavy breathing.

Interviewing Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys on Sept. 1, 1974. Little did I know, I was already researching ‘Everybody Had an Ocean.’

Did I mention that I have seven children and I promised them that if I sold enough books we could go back to three meals a day?

I wrote this book while undergoing cancer treatment and was able to put together a story I’d wanted to write for a long time — 30 years, at least.

I interviewed all of the Beach Boys — except Brian Wilson — several times during the early 1970s. That was one of Brian’s lowest points and he did not appear in concert. Sorry to miss that opportunity, but a writing partner interviewed him in that era and said it was sort of like talking to a throw pillow.

Glad he is in better shape 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.

I’m very happy with the book. Buy it and you will be too.

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.”

That review — available immediately below — focuses attention  on the non-crime elements of the book.

Click on the image of the Mamas and the Papas above to read the review in The Current

The reviews have all been positive and, of course, hearing from people who’ve read it and liked it — mostly through Facebook — means a lot to me.

Speaking of Facebook, I post a lot of things related to the book — videos of the artists I profile performing, for example. So check out the Facebook page devoted to the book. Go ahead and like the page. It don’t cost nothin’.

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

I’ve done a publicity blast, mostly on radio:

  • Here I am on the Majic Morning Show in Cleveland, yakking about the book. Start listening at 40:05.
  • You can hear me in St. Louis on KTRS, in Oklahoma City on KTOK, in Minneapolis on KQRS, in Albuquerque on KZRR and in Danbury, Connecticut, on WLAD., and WMJI in Cleveland.
  • I also recorded two national interviews with iHeart Media and Premiere Satellite. If you have affiliates of those networks in your area, call up and demand that they replay the interviews.
  • Here‘s my 10-minute interview with Ryan Gatenby on Chicago’s WBIG-AM, which features a shout to my daughter — and famed Chicago nightlife figure — Mary Grace McKeen.

Here are a couple of interviews about the book:

Here is a digest of reviews, from Chicago Review Press.

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

An L.A. soundtrack of the 1960s

Click the record label  to hear Los Angeles rock from The Beach Boys to Charles Manson.

This soundtrack to Everybody Had an Ocean features  The Doors, Joni Mitchell, The Byrds, Jackie DeShannon, Sam Cooke, Tina TurnerBuffalo Springfield, The Ronettes  Jan & Dean and many others.

Many of the tracks feature the great artists of the Wrecking Crew: Hal Blaine on drums, Carol Kaye on bass, Tommy Tedesco, Barney Kessel, Bill Pittman and Glen Campbell on guitars, Leon Russell and Larry Knechtel on bass and keyboard, Don Randi on keyboards … the honor roll goes on and on. Whether working with Phil Spector or Brian Wilson or any other hot-shot LA record producer, the Wrecking Crew — the Clique, as Carol Kaye called the informal group — was the best in the business.

In my mind, this soundtrack ends with ‘Summer’s Gone’ by the Beach Boys. The last two songs on the playlist are bonus tracks:

  • “Never Learn Not to Love” by the Beach Boys, which is Dennis Wilson‘s reworking of Charles Manson’s ‘Cease to Exist.’ This gets the full Beach Boys production treatment. It was released on the Beach Boys album 20/20 in 1969.
  • “Look at Your Game, Girl” is a demo by Charles Manson

If you ever wanted to know what Manson sounded like when singing, here is your chance.

People talk to me about stuff

Appearances in news stories as an ‘expert’ :

Long-distance friends

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, enough, they have never met, though they promise they will get together soon and wrestle nude in creamed corn and send me photographic evidence.

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, a woman named Maeve, who may be the most beautiful example of humanity I’ve ever seen.
Me with Marty Flynn at the Ginger Man in Dublin. Photo by Cathy Wyse

Health update

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

This 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 70 pounds in five 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)

This fall, I’ll team-teach the journalism section of the new introductory course for our college of communication — my partner will be Noelle Graves.

I’ll also teach The Literature of Journalism and the Graduate Symposium in Journalism.

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 since 2010.

There were giants in those days. Here I am 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 looks as if she’s being squished. This was in November 1989.

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.

Take care.

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

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