The Mamas and the Papas were a folk-pop group in the 60s. Although their music was poppy and happy, lots was happening behind the scenes (this sounds like Behind The Music...). First off, the members were:


John Phillips: guitar and vocals
Michelle Phillips: vocals
Dennis "Denny" Doherty: vocals
"Mama" Cass Elliot (real name: Ellen Naomi Cohen): vocals

John and Michelle were married. They met in 1961 when John was in a band called The Journeymen, and Michelle (whose maiden name was Gilliam) was a model. John was married at the time, but they fell in love anyway. While on tour, John met Denny Doherty, who was in a band called The Halifax Three.

Later, Denny left The Halifax Three to form The New Journeymen with John. In 1964, John divorced his wife and married Michelle and moved to New York. There, the New Journeymen were formed, and where Denny introduced his friend, Cass Elliot, to John and Michelle.

The foursome soon left New York for The Virgin Islands, where they hung out for a few months, where the group formed and began singing together. After a few months, Cass left for California. After a while, the rest ran out of money and returned to New York, only to find that everyone else had left for California....

So, Doherty and the Phillips joined Cass in California, where she introduced them to Barry McGuire, a musician, who introduced the group to his manager, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Their first single, California Dreamin', became a top ten hit in 1966. They were very successful that year with the new pop-folk sound, but Michelle and Denny had an extramarital affair which threatened the group's establishment. It got to the point where John kicked Michelle out of the group in the summer of 1966. She was "replaced" with Jill Gibson. Pretty much, her picture was just superimposed on top of Michelle's on The Mamas and the Papas. With the release of the 1967 single "I saw her again last night" (even though that song was about the situation) and "Dedicated to the One I Love", Michelle was brought back into the group. However, the whole Denny-Michelle ordeal didn't help Mama Cass' unrequited feelings for Denny subside. This caused a jealousy between the two female singers. The tension was still high, even after the affair was over.

That summer, 1967-the summer of love-the Mamas and the Papas headlined The Montery Pop Festival, along with other established stars like Simon and Garfunkel, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, and The Who. John had organised the festival, and that same year, wrote "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers In Your Hair)" for former Journeyman Scott McKenzie.

The group was still, however, having problems. Denny almost didn't show up for Montery Pop, because he was away so much. They all battled with drugs, and returned to the studio to make another album. It never cut, so John decided to release Farewell to the First Golden Era, a collection of greatest hits, to fill in the "gap" of albums he felt was coming.

They finally did make an album, 1968's The Papas and the Mamas. The next two singles- "Dream A Little Dream of Me" and "Midnight Voyage" were released under Mama Cass' name, to hype her forthcoming solo career, as the MATP were nearing their close.
They broke up after The Papas and The Mamas, but by contract obligation, had to make another album. This produced 1974's People Like Us.

Tragically, Mama Cass died in 1974 of cardiac arrest due to her long-term obesity. She DID NOT die from choking on a ham sandwich. Her doctor commented after he found out about her death, "She probably choked on a ham sandwich." And that rumour still lives on. It's NOT true. She had given a concert, and died in her flat (the same flat that would host Who drummer Keith Moon's death 4 years later).

John continued making music, even bringing new singers to form "Mamas and Papas" groups, and even toured with them However, he died in 2001, also of cardiac arrest. He battled continuing drug problems up until his death.

Michelle Phillips divorced John in 1968, and married Dennis Hopper(for eight days) in 1970. She has two sons. She launched an acting career soon after the MATP disbanded, appearing in The California Kid in 1974, and has appeared on "General Hospital" and "Beverly Hills: 90210".

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.


If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
The Mamas and the Papas
Farewell to the First Golden Era
The Mamas and the Papas Book of Songs
The Papas and the Mamas
A Gathering of Flowers
People Like Us

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