Click on the cover to order. The book will be published in July 2018.

Read “Gonzo Without End, Amen,” the afterword from Fear and Loathing Worldwide, coming in 2018 from Bloomsbury Press.

“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 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)

This fall,  I’m teaching 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 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.