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.