eden ahbez was an American songwriter and recording artist of the 1940s to 1960s, whose lifestyle in California was influential on the hippie movement. He was known to friends simply as ahbe.
Ahbez composed the song “Nature Boy,” which became a No. 1 hit for eight weeks in 1948 for Nat King Cole and has since become a pop and jazz standard.
Living a bucolic life from at least the 1940s, he traveled in sandals and wore shoulder-length hair and beard, and white robes. He camped out below the first L in the Hollywood sign above Los Angeles and studied Oriental mysticism. He slept outdoors with his family and ate vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He claimed to live on three dollars per week.
In 1941, he arrived in Los Angeles and began playing piano in the Eutropheon, a small health food store and raw food restaurant on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. The cafe was owned by John and Vera Richter, German immigrants who followed a Naturmensch and Lebensreform philosophy influenced by the Wandervogel movement in Germany. He was a vegetarian He recalled once telling a policeman: I look crazy but I’m not. And the funny thing is that other people don’t look crazy but they are.
Their followers, known as “Nature Boys” and who included Robert “Gypsy Boots” Bootzin, wore long hair and beards and ate only raw fruits and vegetables.