Roland Diehl 1940 - 2006
Click on photo to enlarge
Roland Diehl, one of my hippie brothers of the Topanga years passed away at 65, from cancer, on June 6th.
As you can see from the joy on his face Roland found great happiness with his loving sweetheart and partner of many years, Manda Beckett, who is holding a memorial for him on September 3rd, the weekend following his 66th birthday, which is August 31st.
The above invitation came with the mail today and I’m going to try and catch a train up to share in the celebration of his life. Roland’s gentle loving playful spirit will certainly be presiding and I'd love to partake in that experience one last time.
When I moved to Topanga in 1965 Roland was a 25 year old painter, and already an iconic figure of the canyon art scene. His best known work is the cover he painted for Neil Young’s first album in 1969 which I’ve posted below.
A couple of years before I left Topanga Roland moved to Portland, Oregon where he’s been working, loving, and playing his beloved conga drums with his friends up there ever since. We kept in touch by phone over the years, and it was a special treat for me a few years ago when Roland sent CDs of some of their drum sessions because my favorite memories of Roland are the Topanga drum circles we shared in 40 years ago.
Topanga Canyon was an impossibly beautiful vortex of free-spirited originality during the 60s, an island of creative experimentation, revelation, love, peace, freedom, and fellowship. For a brief few years it was a low-rent Bohemian art colony paradise-found, where in youthful innocence, we played naked in the garden as the world raged around us. The handful of friends I still have from that time share an almost sacred bond. Roland was a founder of that Topanga, one of the originals.
Your spirit lives on here in Southern California, too, Roland…
Click on cover to enlarge - Painting by Roland Diehl - 1968