eden ahbez / April 15, 1908 - March 4, 1995

The original hippy, the mystical eden ahbez wrote a tune called "Nature Boy" and by chance was able to hand it to Nat King Cole who turned it into a mega-hit in 1948. He looked like a hippy long before it was a thing and lived outdoors in Los Angeles. He lived under the "L" of the Hollywood sign and held a job as a piano player in a raw foods store. He was a vegetarian, straight edge and an anti-vaxer and wore a white robe. This lifestyle inspired "Nature Boy", and after the hit by Cole, ahbez became an overnight celebrity.

"Nature Boy" has subsequently been covered by singers, jazz players, rock bands, house producers, reggae singers, doo-woppers, Afro-Cuban jazzers, flamenco musicians, calypsonians and any other style. Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, James Brown, Ray Barretto, George Benson, Sarah Vaughan, Lady Gaga, Joe Beck, Bobby Darin, Ahmad Jamal, Aaron Neville, Peggy Lee, The Great Society, Marvin Gaye, Big Star and countless others have recorded it. My personal favorites are the great underground versions by saxophone improviser Arthur Doyle and a dark psych-rock version by Gandalf.

He worked on further tunes with Cole and other singers (including hanging out in-studio with Brian Wilson), and made a few of his own albums with beatnik poetry and exotica sounds. In sick irony, this walking hippy died in a car accident at the age of 86.

Here is the OG recorded version of "Nature Boy":

Here's the entire Eden's Island album by our subject, (recently reissued):

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