Even though the area has only recently been populated in the scheme of human history, the sprawling mansions of Southern California have whipped up quite a tradition of hauntings in a relatively short amount of time. There’s the famous Winchester Mystery house (filled with trap doors, false stairways, and Native American spirits) in San Jose, the home of ’50s “Superman” star George Reeves, and “The Mansion” at 2451 Laurel Canyon, a massive 1918 house in the popular Los Angeles neighborhood that has been home to Errol Flynn, as well as a host of bands recording albums under the eye of producer Rick Rubin. Currently, James Murphy of Brooklyn’s LCD Soundsystem is the latest unquiet spirit to roam the halls of The Mansion, giving his fans a quick brief on the lore of the 10-bedroom villa in an interview on Resident Advisor.
“There were many stories about the house. The Mansion was haunted, apparently. The ghost, in his former career as sentient human being, may or may not have been homosexual. Genesis P-Orridge threw himself off one of the balconies, maybe, to finance the recording of some record no one could quite remember. Harry Houdini lived here, or it might have been his wife, and a series of tunnels connected Houdini’s one mansion to his other mansion, which we were assured was somewhere in the distance.”
Well, not exactly Mr. Murphy. Seems that, yes, the son of an owner of a house built on the same property did push his homosexual lover from the balcony before the structure burned down and was replaced in 1918. Also, Houdini lived nearby and may have rented the place as a guest house shortly after it was rebuilt, but there is no evidence of tunnels or other hidden links to the great escape artist’s estate. Anecdotal evidence of hauntings, however, are readily available from the many bands who have recorded albums there including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Mars Volta, Slipknot, and others. Some have reported strange “orbs of light”, doors that open and close on their own accord, malfunctioning equipment, and other little moments of unexplainable weirdness that have only added to The Mansion’s growing reputation as the eeriest recording studio (aside from Michael Jackson’s in-home setup at Neverland, of course).
So, if you’re out in LaLa Land following our musical tour of the “Calicountry” movement offered in our “Music + Travel” guide, make sure to take some time out and follow the winding roads of Laurel Canyon up for a slow drive by of The Mansion—be it the beats coming from Murphy’s latest recording session or the low moans of the ghost of a murdered lover, there’s a good chance you’ll hear something spooky as you breeze by.
2451 Laurel Canyon Boulevard
Los Angeles, California, USA