The Stone House, Part 7: ‘The Zeidlers and Buffalo Springfield’

Pablo CapraBy Pablo Capra      June 10, 2022

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The Stone House, Part 7: ‘The Zeidlers and Buffalo Springfield’
From Canyon Comix by Dan Mazur, Messenger, December, 12, 2002
Mazet’s vineyard may have drawn the next owners to the stone house because they were wine connoisseurs. Marvin (b.1928) and Judy Zeidler (b.1930) had dated since they were 15. They married after Marvin returned from serving in the Pacific during World War II and had five children. Marvin belonged to the International Wine & Food Society, which is credited with bringing a wine culture to Los Angeles. He judged wines at the LA County Fair, and brought attention to foreign dishes like aebleskiver, a Danish dessert. In 1957, Marvin and his brother Leland Zeidler (1931-2018) founded Zeidler & Zeidler, a men’s clothing store in Santa Monica. “We sold what was in fashion in those days, at the beginning, mod clothing and then, bell-bottom trousers and finally, elegant Italian clothes. The customers were young and hip, the comedian Steve Martin was a steady customer, for example.” (“A Passover Seder with a Power Couple of Jewish Food,” Haaretz, August 26, 2014) The Zeidler brand was known for its Pop Art-inspired ads and zany radio commercials featuring comics Lenny Bruce, Wavy Gravy, and Wolfman Jack. In the 1970s, the store changed its name to Z&Z Fashions and branched out to 13 locations in Southern California. In the 1980s, Marvin left the clothing business to open trendy restaurants like Citrus in Hollywood, the Broadway Deli and Capo in Santa Monica, and Cafe Brentwood. Judy wrote cookbooks and hosted a TV cooking show called Judy’s Kitchen. Marvin and Judy’s success allowed them to buy multiple properties, including the stone house, which they used as a rental, and a larger ranch near the Topanga Center where they lived. One renter of their stone house was Stephen Stills (b.1945) of the band Buffalo Springfield. The band’s name came from a brand of steamroller that was doing roadwork in front of the Hollywood house where Stills previously lived. On the stone house property, a dilapidated tractor and road grader must have appealed to the band too. Stills’ Topanga neighbors objected to his loud jam sessions. The situation escalated on March 19, 1968, when Cream guitarist Eric Clapton (b.1945) joined in. Buffalo Springfield was celebrating the release of their song “Uno Mundo,” and playing so loudly that “the mountains were ringing.” After 10:00 p.m., a neighbor called the Sheriff. The band’s road manager, Chris Sarns, 25, lived nearby on Topanga Skyline Dr. He remembered: “Three or four girls came busting in the door and said, ‘The police are right behind us—here, hide this dope!’ “They started pulling this shit out of their purses—like five containers of smoke—and I’m going, ‘Oh my God!’ Being the road manager, they handed it all to me.” (Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography by Jimmy McDonough, 2002, p. 228)
Stills was the only person who escaped, jumping out the bedroom window and running to Sarns’ house to call a lawyer. Drummer Dewey Martin (1940-2009) luckily left the party moments before the raid. Sarns, Clapton, and the rest of the band were arrested, including guitarist Richie Furay (b.1944), bassist James Messina (b.1947), and guitarist Neil Young (b.1945).

In addition, 10 women were arrested.

• Nancy Furay, 21, Richie’s wife
• Mary Hughes, 24, model, West Hollywood
• Susan Hafey, 21, Stills’s girlfriend
• Karen Harvey, 25, singer, Wilmington, DE.
• June Nelson, 31, publicity writer, West LA
• Linda Sontag, 21, entertainer, Hollywood
• Linda Stevens, 24, singer, Old Topanga Cyn. Rd.
• Hannah Stills, 27, sculptor, Stills’s sister, San Francisco
• Talitha Stills, 18, student, Stills’s sister, living on the property
• An unnamed 16-year-old girl

Even without the last-minute marijuana delivery, the party would have been in trouble. According to Sheriff Deputies Andrew Yobuck and Oscar Lowry, “When [Susan Hafey] opened the door the marijuana smoke just rolled out.” The living room was illuminated by “psychedelic lighting” and littered with marijuana debris.

The revelers were booked in Malibu, then taken to the LA County Jail on a prison bus. During the ride, Buffalo Springfield sang their hit song “For What It’s Worth” about the police oppression of the hippies during the 1966 Sunset Strip curfew riots.

In jail, they were stripped and sprayed with the insecticide DDT (formerly a common delousing agent, but now banned because of its toxicity). Everyone feared a drug conviction, and Clapton, who was traveling from England on a visa, faced the cancelation of his successful tour with Cream.

“Clapton’s long hair and pink boots seemed to particularly amuse and anger the authorities, so they made him—naked except the boots—stand... out in front of us to humiliate him...” (Shakey, p. 229)
Above: Headline of the Evening Outlook, March 20, 1968 Right: Buffalo Springfield poster by David Schiller, 1968 Left: Marvin Zeidler, LA Times, August 17, 1967, photo by Jeff Robbins
However, because only Sarns had been found in possession of marijuana, everyone else got off with a light charge of “disturbing the peace.” This incident is sometimes cited as a reason for the breakup of Buffalo Springfield. Less than two months later, on May 5, 1968, the band played their last show.
Stills moved out of the stone house but Young found his way back by befriending the next renters: his future record producer David Briggs (1944-1995), artist Shannon Forbes (1946-2020), and their infant son Lincoln (b.1969).

Briggs was working with the Topanga band Spirit, and kept a random bunch of local musicians around known as the Topanga All-Stars. His property manager was Bobby Morris (b.1927), former drummer for Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Future members of the Eagles were part of the scene, and took some of their first publicity photos there. Musician Louie Kelly and actor Ron Denend lived in the barn. Actor Danny Tucker hung around.

“‘All of us had long hair, but we were the furthest thing from hippies you can imagine,’ said Morris.
“Briggs and Tucker liked to gamble, so high-stakes card games were a ritual for the clan. ‘They’d frisk ya when you came to the table to see if you were holdin’ drugs or guns,’ recalls Denend. ‘Drugs stayed, guns went in the locker.’.

“Den mother for the bunch was... Shannon Forbes, who stayed busy feeding the troops pineapple upside-down cake and sketching everybody from her kitchen easel. Nils Lofgren (of Crazy Horse), who would soon be making records with both Briggs and Young, felt that it was a real boys’ club.…” (Shakey, p. 286)

Young and his dog Winnipeg (from the album cover Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere) crashed on the couch while he began composing songs for his solo career… on what may have been former resident Mary Palmaymesa’s piano from the 1920s!

“Young [would be] hunched over the shabby old upright piano, picking out notes around the missing keys.” (Shakey, p. 286)

Young also befriended Topangan Charles Manson, one year before the Manson Family’s serial killings that began with Gary Hinman, only a few houses away. Young gave Manson a motorcycle, and promoted his music.

“I told Mo Ostin about him, Warner Brothers—‘This guy is unbelievable—he makes the songs up as he goes along, and they’re all good.’ Never got any further than that. Never got a demo.

“Glad he didn’t get around to me when he was punishing people for the fact he didn’t make it in the music biz.” (Shakey, p. 288)

Finally, Young started dating Susan Acevedo, the waitress and manager at The Canyon Kitchen, a breakfast spot in the Center. In August 1968, he bought a house on Skyline Trail; and on December 1st, he married Susan there.

Pablo Capra is the Archivist for the Topanga Historical Society and author of “Topanga Beach: A History” (2020). More at topangahistoricalsociety.org.
Pablo Capra
      June 10, 2022

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