Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 Hardcover – March 6 2018 by Ryan H. Walsh
A mind-expanding dive into a lost chapter of 1968, featuring the famous and forgotten: Van Morrison, folkie-turned-cult-leader Mel Lyman, Timothy Leary, James Brown, and many more
Van Morrison's Astral Weeks is an iconic rock album shrouded in legend, a masterpiece that has touched generations of listeners and influenced everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Martin Scorsese.
Ryan H. Walsh unearths the album's fascinating backstory - following a criss-crossing cast of musicians and visionaries, artists and hippie entrepreneurs, from a young English professor who walks into a job as a host for TV's wildest show to the mystically inclined owner of a radio station.
Most penetratingly powerful of all is Mel Lyman, the folk-music star who decided he was God, then controlled the lives of his many followers via acid, astrology, and an underground newspaper called Avatar.
A mesmerizing group of boldface names pops to life in Astral Weeks: James Brown quells tensions the night after Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated; the real-life crimes of the Boston Strangler come to the movie screen via Tony Curtis; Howard Zinn testifies for Avatar in the courtroom. From life-changing concerts and chilling crimes, to acid experiments and film shoots, Astral Weeks is the secret, wild history of a unique time and place.
“A ‘secret history’ of a proud old city caught in the throes of cultural hysteria. . . . Walsh’s book recreates a time and place that attracted an impressive array of characters.” - The San Francisco Chronicle
“Astral Weeks unearths the time and place behind the music. . . . A book full of discoveries. . . . A fantastic chronicle.”—Rolling Stone