Did the CIA Create the Hippie Movement?


Admiral George Stephen Morrison

Inside the LC: The Strange But Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation

By Dave McGowan (2008)

Free PDF: Inside the LC

Book Review

Inside the LC is a collection of blog posts Dave McGowan published in 2008 about the close relationship between the US military intelligence complex and the rock stars who created the hippy rock culture that emerged from the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles. As he relates the detailed family histories of various rock stars, it’s uncanny how many of them originated from Washington DC and families with military intelligence backgrounds. A few of them had personal intelligence backgrounds.

Examples include

  • Jim Morrison – son of George Stephen Morrison, the admiral piloting the warship involved in the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident used to justify the introduction of ground troops into Vietnam.
  • Frank Zappa – son of chemical warfare specialist at facility implicated in MKUltra.*
  • John Phillips (The Mamas and the Papas) – son of military intelligence officer. By strange coincidence, Philips himself was in Cuba “fighting for Castro” at the time of the Cuban revolution.
  • Stephen Stills (The Byrds/Crosby, Stills and Nash) – product of career military family. Stills himself served in Vietnam (presumably either as CIA or Special Operations) prior to the introduction of ground troops.
  • David Crosby (The Byrds/Crosby, Stills and Nash) – son of military intelligence officer.
  • Jackson Browne – son of OSS** officer.
  • Joan Baez – daughter of CIA officer who worked at MIT
  • John Denver (aka Henry John Deutschendorft) – son of career Air Force officer stationed at Roswell.
  • Emilylou Harris – daughter of career military officer stationed in Washington DC
  • Phil Ochs – openly talked about working for CIA. Also happened to be in Chile in 1973 during CIA coup.

McGowan also explores the intelligence links of the movie stars and Rand Corporation*** employees and supporters who lived in Laurel Canyon. Various movie stars worked clandestinely at the CIA’s secret movie studio the Lookout Mountain Laboratory (in Laurel Canyon). McGowan believes it’s no coincidence that the start of the anti-Vietnam War movement in 1965 was quickly followed by a flood of rock stars moving from Washington DC to Laurel Canyon – to rub shoulders with Hollywood actors who worked for the CIA in their spare time. In fact, he makes a strong case that the whole hippy/drug/sex/music scene was engineered by the CIA (and heavily promoted by CIA-controlled corporate media outlets) to lure young people away from the antiwar movement.

About half the book is devoted to the absurd number of freak uninvestigated deaths (including those committed by singer/songwriter Charles Manson and his followers) in Laurel Canyon. Among the suspicious deaths McGowan covers are those of Jimi Hendrix, Mama Cass Elliot, James Dean, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, Brian Jones (Rolling Stones), Ricky Nelson, John Belushi, John Denver, Phil Hartman, Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys) and Jim Morrison.

McGowan also finds it quite strange that a number of these bands came out of nowhere despite having virtually no talent. Jim Morrison, for example, was incarnated virtually overnight as a Sunset Strip rock star with a backing band (which had no prior band experience) and a full repertoire of songs he allegedly wrote before the Doors was even formed. Exactly how he wrote these songs is even more mysterious given that he couldn’t play an instrument or read music, especially given his sudden transformation from a clean cut collegiate conservative to a brooding sex symbol.

*MKUltra – a CIA mind control project that engaged in illegal experimentation on human subjects.

**The Office of Strategic Service (OSS) – the US intelligence agency that morphed into the CIA following World War II

***Rand Corporation – a nonprofit research corporation with close links to the US military-intelligence complex

35 thoughts on “Did the CIA Create the Hippie Movement?

  1. Since the end of WW2, and the birth of the CIA and national security surveillance state, military members and veterans have been barred from seeking any damages in a lawsuit for human experimentation. Most people, that are a little more familiar with the situation are aware that military families are often used as guinea pigs for Programs such as MKULTRA, COINTELPRO, etc. This analysis by McGowan, although broader and more subject to conjecture, is consistent with Frances Stoner Saunders analysis of the weaponization of modern art, literature and media by the CIA. Personally, I believe that useful idiots are more valuable than co-conspirators to the CIA. This is because all conspiracies require compartmentalization, and a need to know information protocol. The CIA has hijacked popular TV as well from the script writing of the Simpsons to Seinfeld (originally was to be called the Seinfeld Chronicles). The easiest way to gauge the current control of the CIA of Hollywood is to look at the motif of Russian criminals in TV series and movies. This “coincidentally” was ratcheted up circa March 2014-for obvious reasons.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very interesting, PeaceFrog. The late assassination researcher John Judge (himself the child of a military family) used to write about the way the US government dealt with military offspring. Apparently a number of the ones who refused to go along with the program found themselves involuntarily transported to Jonestown and drugged with Thorazine and similar drugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jonestown was a clear case of Mil/Intel atrocity and cover-up. Cults and alternative religions are infiltrated by the CIA for mind control and various other human experimentation (individual and group). The proof that Jonestown was indeed a government experiment and cover-up is found by the Inquest of the Coroner of Guyana who stated under oath, that the bodies of victims he performed autopsies on, shortly after the incident, had gunshots wounds to the back of the head indicating execution. This San Diego State University web page article is worth re-blogging here:


        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pretty Stupid. Half of the United States has parents or relatives in the military. That is because the United Sates is the most imperialist, militarist nation in the world. The Grateful Dead, Beat writers like Ginsberg and Burroughs are responsible for the Hippy movement. Stephen Stills was never in the military. He was so high on coke in 1974 that he signed in at a concert Stuart Stills USMC. Most rock stars did not wanna go to Vietnam.Most kids did not wanna go to Vietnam, military family or not. This article is sensationalist nonsense. The new left of the 60s had many infiltrators, to be sure but, the CIA did not start the hippy movement. Sounds like cointelpro crapola.


    • You might want to have a look at the book, Bill (it’s free), before passing judgement. Stephen Stills himself talked about being in Vietnam in the early 1960s. Before 1965, when Johnson introduced ground troops, the US operation in Vietnam was run by the CIA and Special Operations.


  3. I’m sure the CIA had some involvement in manipulating the Hippie movement, but John Denver a CIA asset? No way! The Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders is a great book, by the way.


    • PeaceFrog Has summed it up very well, in my investigation of Boris Pash as planner of JFK Assassination this topic is recurring throughout his career from teaching at Hollywood high school, using Mountain View AF reserve Base in Laurel Canyon The use of everything from Radiation,LSD, too Devil worship is all part of Military/CIA Arsenal for Mind Control(sublimation).


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  5. Prole Center, I don’t think McGowan is making the case that Denver was a CIA asset. He merely suggests his father’s career (in view of the Air Force surveillance vehicles operating out of Roswell that many observers mistook for UFOs) may have given him access to information that was possibly linked to his death.


  6. Pingback: Did the CIA Create the Hippie Movement? | NO, but it's good fiction - Worldwide Hippies

    • Were you also in the antiwar movement? McGowan is making the point that the hippie/drug culture movement was intended to distract 1960s from the antiwar movement. The French activists who organized the 1968 general strike were aware that hippy culture and drugs were a distraction from political change (though I doubt if they were aware of any CIA role in creating it). This was why the main activist groups who organized the 1968 protests strictly banned illicit drug use.


      • Yes I was. I think , however, that the hippie etc movement was also a genuine reaction to the seeming impossibility of achieving change within the system – even in those days. Hence Tune in, drop out! Naively I let myself be lured back into trying to change things from within. And where did that get me?


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  8. Most American men of fighting age served in WW2. The children of the rich ones (i.e. officers) were rich enough that they didn’t have to work and could be in rock bands and not make money for many years.

    You can see the phony logic pretty clearly. The Aberdeen Proving Ground is 12 square miles and houses thousands of people. So because Zappa’s father worked there (working on mustard gas) and some MK-ULTRA stuff happened there he was working on MK-ULTRA? Every employee was involved in every project?

    There’s no need to resort to conspiracies when there are much more reasonable explanations. The Laurel Canyon Hypothesis is rubbish and should be forgotten about for good. There are plenty of real underhanded things that deserve our attention so who does it benefit to distract people with nonsense like this? Makes you wonder


    • P.S. it’s much more plausible that the government was behind the success of the Grateful Dead. Channeling the would-be political opposition into a drug soaked fantasy life. Full disclosure I like the Dead, Zappa, The Doors and pretty much all the musicians mentioned here


      • You make some good points, Phydeauxill. I agree some of the premises in this book are a little silly. However some deserve further investigation. It has been corroborated elsewhere that the CIA was handing out LSD like candy during this period, and I think this deserves further public scrutiny.


        • “The CIA was handing out LSD like candy during this period”
          I don’t doubt it for a second
          “I think this deserves further public scrutiny”
          No argument from me there


  9. Fascinating. I have read a number of things laying the hippy movement at the foot of the KGB as well.

    It would very ironic if they were both involved in promoting the same movement for diametrically opposed purposes!


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