Musical Mecca

After 30 years, they still flock to that most fabled of oceanfront homes

The telegrams have stopped, but Tobin still receives overdue hospital bills from around the country. These delinquent patients' home addresses? Why, 461 Ocean Blvd. Occasionally, mail will arrive for some of the other famous inhabitants who've spent time in Tobin's abode before him: The Bee Gees loved the area's vibe so much that they never left, subsequently buying homes in Miami Beach; the Eagles lived there while recording Hotel California; Liza Minelli and Barry Manilow are also 461 alumni, though presumably with fewer noise complaints from the neighbors.

But it's the Claptonites -- not crazed Liza devotees belting out show tunes -- who keep knocking on Tobin's front door. One woman recently arrived clutching a copy of 461, which had been inscribed to her husband, who had just passed away. "I want you to have this," she tearfully insisted, thrusting the record into Tobin's hands. "I guess it reminded her of her husband too much," he says. Tobin wasn't sure just what he was supposed to do with the karmically endowed piece of vinyl, but the woman appeared to have suddenly achieved a sense of closure. She had a good cathartic cry, received a comforting hug from Tobin, and then peacefully went on her way.

"It's like having an extra part-job time, caring for all these people," Tobin muses. "They're a bit like a cult." He pauses, perhaps becoming conscious of the fact that despite 26 years of these strange visitors, he's never felt the need for an extra security fence. With a touch of tenderness in his voice, he corrects himself: "They're a very respectful cult."

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