Lynn Castle: the secret singer-songwriter who used to cut Jim Morrison’s hair

She spent the 60 s working as a hairdresser to the stars, while hiding in a closet to write music. Now, 50 times on, her entry book is ultimately being released

Its 8am in California when Lynn Castle answers the phone, and she pauses briefly before establishing her identity. The 78 -year-old lives as the rather more extravagantly titled Madelynn Von Ritz; interest in her old-time reputation relates to recordings made some 50 years ago, only two of who the hell is ever exhausted. Now, after half a century, she is celebrating the liberate of her first album, Rose Colored Corner.

It follows an extensive reissue expedition of much of Lee Hazlewoods catalogue; he caused and secreted Castles merely single, heralding her into the US top 100 in 1967. I dont recollect, she chortles, but it was obviously more towards 100 than 1! The hymn was Lady Barber, a psychedelic figure whose entitle gestured to her date job: hairdresser to the longhaired adepts of LAs music scene in the 1960 s.

Music firstly helped her abscond an otherwise sad macrocosm. Aged two, she was mailed with her friend, simply six months old-time to what she calls a boarding school, an ancient craftsmanship live built in the 20 s, with an austere wife by the refer of Mrs Sullivan in her pitch-black knit dress every day, and her long, skinny, grey-haired “hairs-breadth” laces wrap around her head. We was completely unwanted, but my father couldnt find anybody to take us. They took us. So we were raised by them for the first 12 years of our life.

A signed Lynn Castle head shot. Image: Kindnes of Light in the Attic

She barely got to know her father, a off-colors singer they used to call the white-hot Ella Fitzgerald. Her reputation was Lillian Wells. I dont know much about her because she had a fairly sketchy concept going on. It was a lonely, strict upbringing, but the school allowed her to learn piano and dancing. Her father-god, meanwhile, remarried, and after Von Ritz eventually joined his new category an escapee in wonderland she embarked dating an unprepossessing but nostalgic young songwriter announced Phil Spector.

He wasnt the most attractive, she confesses, but when people are so frigging incredible inside, theyre just so beautiful, as the old story goes. He was so darling, and had this sweet expression. She echoes lovingly how he serenaded her, climbing through her bedroom opening at night. I remember sitting in the moonlight with Phil. I had to be careful because my half-sister was sleeping in the other plot in the same room.

They were together, on and off, for three years. He asked me to marry him, but I said I couldnt until I satisfied Elvis! Von Ritz kept trade secrets from Spector, however, and almost everyone she knew: she was a songwriter, very. Her uncle, a singer announced Rush Adams, helped her sell one tune Loves Prayer, carelessly credited to Len Castle to the Spinners in 1958. Generally, though, she was so crippled by insecurity that she secretes in a wardrobe when she wrote. Even after she married another songwriter, Joey Cooper, she instead pursued a profession as a hairdresser. Ironically, she matched Cooper through the halo of Elviss people.

Quitting the womens salon where she worked I couldnt sit to reel another roller again! and working independently, she found herself cutting the hair of some of the citys most well known. Oh, my God! she gasps, echoing patrons that included Del Shannon, the Byrds and Sonny and Cher, in whose Good Times movie she makes a brief cameo. I mean, frigging Vincent Price! I used to do Neil Young! Johnny Mathis would come in, and I terminated up doing Ray Bradburys hair all the way until three, four months before he died. Heres a enjoyable one: Jim Morrison. Id find him sitting on my step. Hed be so quiet, and hed simply mess with his mane while I was cutting it. I remember it was very beautiful.

Slowly, message of her music began to spread, leading to a low-key conference with Spector collaborator Jack Nitzsche, by now a close friend. Her stylishly coiffured clients Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart grew her sung Kicking Stones for the Monkees, and Hazlewood who had given her her first guitar, a Rosewood Martin that her ex-husband later left open in the torrent invited one of his labels parties, Last Fridays Fire, to back her in his Phoenix studio. It might announce as if I was this totally hip chick that had it all down, but I didnt! It was a last-minute happening: I want you to come over. Makes cut this song.

Lynn Castle with producer Tommy Boyce. Picture: Courtesy of Light in the Attic

The chants collected during Rose Colored Corner are luminary for their fragility and Castles deep expres, which is reminiscent of yet plainly most vulnerable than Nancy Sinatras, who Hazlewood was concurrently determining into one of the late 60 s most ubiquitous. But the demos appealingly raw, uncontrived nature reveals they werent mean for public uptake. During the mournful Im Getting Tired, for instance, her expres fissures, thrusting her to clear her throat, and from time to time she can be heard chatting to Nitzsche.

Jack just said: Sit there and play video games, she echoes. Thats what it was. I never played well. The chants were just skeletons. Maybe one day Id build better then. But I remember sitting there on that stool with my guitar. It was kind of dim, and I was glad.

A follow-up, sadly, never arrived, although she writes carols to this day. Hazlewood soon disappeared to Sweden, while Von Ritz focused on growing three children. And what happened after that? she titters mischievously. Do I dare say the acid years? So, although at one stage she virtually entered with Bob Dylan the whole session was cancelled, and thats just one of my virtually stories she returned to hairdressing. She resurfaced only occasionally, under her real appoint, was helping to William Friedkins 1980 cult Al Pacino vehicle, Cruising, and a handful of 90 s B-movie soundtracks.

Until the Lady Barber single be listed in 2013 s Grammy-nominated Hazlewood boxset, Theres a Dream Ive Been Saving, simply one further transcription had envisioned the light of day, a 2001 say, of cooperating with new-age composer Michael Hopp, of Oscar Wildes The Selfish Giant. Its indicative of Von Ritzs adore of fairytales, and with Rose Colored Corners freeing, she acknowledges that aspects of her life nowadays seem like one. She is, however, often sanguine when asked if this is the joyous terminating she dreamed of as a songwriter. Is it the end already? Anything could happen, any second, any second, any second.

Rose Colored Corner is out now on Light in the Attic .

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