April 19, 2019

Roland Diehl, 1940 - 2006


Roland Diehl, one of my hippie brothers of the Topanga years, passed away at 65, from cancer, on June 6.

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 Sunday, September 3, the weekend following his 66th birthday, which is August 31.

Roland Diehl, 1940 - 2006

An invitation came with the mail today and I’m going to try and catch a train to Portland 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.

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,

Roland Diehl, 1940 - 2006

Diehl’s cover art for Neil Young’s first solo album, released in early 1969.

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. Peace....

There will be a musical jam session in honor Roland on Sunday, September 3, at 5 p.m. in Portland, Oregon. After the jam we will be donating his instruments to the Roland Diehl Memorial Music Library, a lending library for young musicians. Contributions to help maintain and add to the library will be appreciated. Call Carol and Ray for information at (503) 234-6292.