The Mamas and the Papas

The Mamas and the Papas were an American folk rock vocal group who recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968. The group was a defining force in the music scene of the counterculture of the 1960s. The group was composed of John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, and Michelle Phillips née Gilliam. Their sound was based on vocal harmonies arranged by John Phillips,[2] the songwriter, musician, and leader of the group who adapted folk to the new beat style of the early 1960s.

The Mamas and the Papas
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.[1]
Years active1965–1971
Associated acts
Past members

The Mamas and the Papas released five studio albums and 17 singles over four years, six of which made the Billboard top 10 and have sold close to 40 million records worldwide.[3] The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 for its contributions to the music industry.[1] The band reunited briefly to record the album People Like Us in 1971 but had ceased touring and performing by that time.

Background and formation

The Mamas and the Papas were formed by husband and wife John Phillips (formerly of the New Journeymen) and Michelle Phillips, and Denny Doherty (formerly of the Mugwumps). Both of these earlier acts were folk groups active in 1964 and 1965. The last member to join was Cass Elliot, Doherty's bandmate in the Mugwumps, who had to overcome John Phillips' concern that her voice was too low for his arrangements, that her physical appearance would be an obstacle to the band's success and that her temperament was incompatible with his[4] (Elliot struggled with obesity all her life, and felt deeply insecure about her looks[5] ). The group considered calling itself the Magic Cyrcle before switching to the Mamas and the Papas, inspired by the Hells Angels, whose female associates were called "mamas".[6][7]

The quartet spent the period from early spring to midsummer 1965 in the Virgin Islands "to rehearse and just put everything together", as John Phillips later recalled.[8] Phillips acknowledged that he was reluctant to abandon folk music.[9] Others, including Doherty and guitarist Eric Hord, have said he hung on to it "like death".[10] Roger McGuinn's view is that "[i]t was hard for John to break out of folk music, because I think he was really good at it, conservative, and successful, too."[11] Phillips also acknowledged that it was Doherty and Elliot who awakened him to the potential of contemporary pop, as epitomized by the Beatles. Previously, the New Journeymen had played acoustic folk with banjo, and the Mugwumps played something closer to folk rock, with bass and drums.[12][13] Their rehearsals in the Virgin Islands were "the first time that we tried playing electric".[14][15]

The band then traveled from New York to Los Angeles for an audition with Lou Adler, co-owner of Dunhill Records. The audition was arranged by Barry McGuire, who had befriended Cass Elliot and John Phillips independently during the previous two years, and who had recently signed with Dunhill.[16][17] The audition led to "a deal in which they would record two albums a year for the next five years", with a royalty of 5 percent on 90 percent of retail sales.[18][19] Dunhill Records also tied the band to management and publishing deals, commonly known as a "triple hat" relationship.[20][21] Cass Elliot's membership was not formalized until the paperwork was signed, with Adler, Michelle Phillips, and Doherty overruling John Phillips.[22]


1965: Beginnings and debut

The Mamas and the Papas made its first recording singing background vocals on McGuire's album This Precious Time, although it had already released a single of its own by the time the album appeared in December 1965.[23] The single "Go Where You Wanna Go", which was given a limited release in November, failed to chart.[24] The follow-up, "California Dreamin'", has the same B-side, suggesting that "Go Where You Wanna Go" had been withdrawn.[25][26] "California Dreamin'" was released in December, touted by a full-page advertisement in Billboard on December 18.[27] It peaked at No. 4 in the United States and No. 23 in the United Kingdom. "Go Where You Wanna Go" was covered by the 5th Dimension on its album Up, Up and Away and became a Top 20 pop hit.

The quartet's debut album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, followed in February 1966 and became its only No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The third and final single from the album, "Monday, Monday",[2] was released in March 1966. It became the band's only No. 1 hit in the US, reached No. 3 in the UK, and was the first No. 1 on Spain's Los 40 Principales. "Monday, Monday" won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1967. It was also nominated for Best Performance by a Vocal Group, Best Contemporary Song and Record of the Year.

1966: The Mamas & the Papas

The band's second album, The Mamas & the Papas, is sometimes referred to as Cass, John, Michelle, Dennie, whose names appear above the band's name on the cover, including the unexplained misspelling of Doherty's first name. The recording was interrupted when Michelle Phillips became indiscreet about her affair with Gene Clark of the Byrds.[28][29] A liaison the previous year between Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty had been forgiven by her husband, John Phillips. Doherty and John Phillips wrote "I Saw Her Again" about the episode.[30][31] They later disagreed about how much Doherty contributed to the song.[32][33] Following Michelle Phillips' affair with Clark, John Phillips was determined to fire her.[34] After consulting their attorney and record label, John, Elliot, and Doherty served Michelle Phillips with a letter expelling her from the group on June 28, 1966.[28]

Jill Gibson was hired to replace Michelle. Gibson was a visual artist and singer-songwriter who had recorded with Jan and Dean.[35] After being introduced to the band by its producer, Lou Adler, Gibson soon took part in concerts at Forest Hills, New York, Denver, Colorado, and Phoenix, Arizona,[36] television appearances including Hollywood Palace on ABC, and recording sessions.[37] While Gibson was a quick study and well regarded, the three original members concluded she lacked her predecessor's "stage charisma and grittier edge," and Michelle Phillips was reinstated on August 23, 1966,.[38][39] Jill Gibson left the band and was paid a lump sum from the group's funds."[40]

The Mamas & the Papas peaked at No. 4 in the US and No. 24 in the UK, continuing the band's success. "I Saw Her Again" was released as a single in June 1966 and reached No. 5 in the US and No. 11 in the UK. There is a false start to the final chorus of the song at 2'42". While mixing the record, Bones Howe inadvertently punched in the coda vocals too early. He then rewound the tape and inserted the vocals in their proper position. On playback, the mistaken early entry could still be heard, making it sound as though Doherty repeated the first three words, singing "I saw her ... I saw her again last night". Lou Adler liked the effect, and told Howe to leave it in the final mix.[41] "That has to be a mistake: nobody's that clever," Paul McCartney told the group.[42] The device was imitated by John Sebastian in the Lovin' Spoonful song, "Darlin' Be Home Soon" (1966), and by Kenny Loggins in the song "I'm Alright" (1980). "Words of Love" was the second single from the album, released in November 1966 as a double A-side with "Dancing in the Street." The record reached No. 5 in the US. "Dancing in the Street," which had been a hit two years earlier for Martha and the Vandellas, struggled to No. 73. In the UK it was backed with "I Can't Wait" and peaked at No. 47.

With Michelle Phillips reinstated, the group embarked on a small tour on the East coast to promote the record in the fall of 1966. At a September 1966 concert at Fordham University in New York City, the band was noted by Gus Duffy and Jim Mason of their co-headlining band, Webster's New Word, as being clearly "high, drunk, or tripping. When they got on stage, it was clear that these people shouldn't be on stage ... They tumbled onto the stage, shambled around, and just got nowhere.[43]

1967: The Mamas & the Papas Deliver

After completing its East coast tour, the group started work immediately on its third album, The Mamas & The Papas Deliver, which was recorded in the autumn of 1966. The first single from the album, "Look Through My Window", was released in September 1966 before the last single from The Mamas & the Papas. It reached No. 24 in the US. The second single, "Dedicated to the One I Love" released February 1967, did better, peaking at No. 2 in both the US and the UK. The success of "Dedicated to the One I Love" helped the album, which was also released in February 1967, reach No. 2. The third single, "Creeque Alley," released April 1967, chronicled the band's early history and reached No. 5 in the US.

By June 1967, the strain on the group was apparent when it performed indifferently at the Monterey International Pop Festival, as can be heard on Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival (1970). The band was under-rehearsed, partly because John and Michelle Phillips and Lou Adler were preoccupied with organizing the festival, partly because Doherty arrived at the last minute from another sojourn in the Virgin Islands,[44][45][46] and partly because he was drinking heavily in the aftermath of his affair with Michelle Phillips.[47] The Mamas and the Papas rallied for its performance before 18,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl in August with Jimi Hendrix as the opener, which John and Michelle Phillips remembered as the apex of the band's career, saying "There would never be anything quite like it again."[48][49]

The Mamas & the Papas Deliver was followed in October 1967 by the non-album single "Glad to Be Unhappy", which reached No. 26 in the US. "Dancing Bear" from the group's second album was released as a single in November. It peaked at No. 51 in the US. Neither "Glad to Be Unhappy" nor "Dancing Bear" charted in the UK.

1968: The Papas & the Mamas

The Mamas and the Papas cut its first three albums at United Western Recorders in Hollywood,[50] while the group's subsequent releases were recorded at the eight-track studio John and Michelle Phillips built at their home in Bel Air, at a time when four-track recording was still the norm.[51][52] John Phillips said, "I got the idea to transform the attic into my own recording studio, so I could stay high all the time and never have to worry about studio time. I began assembling the state-of-the-art equipment and ran the cost up to about a hundred grand."[53]

While having his own studio gave John Phillips the autonomy he craved, it also removed the external discipline that may have been beneficial to a man who described himself as an "obsessive perfectionist".[25] Doherty, Elliot and Adler found the arrangement uncongenial. Elliot complained to Rolling Stone on October 26, 1968, "We spent one whole month on one song, just the vocals for 'The Love of Ivy' took one whole month. I did my [debut solo] album in three weeks, a total of ten days in the studio. Live with the band, not prerecorded tracks sitting there with earphones."[54] The recording sessions for the fourth album stalled, and in September 1967 John Phillips called a press conference to announce that the Mamas and the Papas were taking a break, which the band confirmed on The Ed Sullivan Show which aired September 24.[55][56][57]

The Mamas and the Papas planned to give concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Olympia in Paris before taking time out on Majorca to "get the muse going again."[58][59] When the group docked at Southampton on October 5, Elliot was arrested for stealing two blankets and a hotel key worth 10 guineas ($28) when in England the previous February. Elliot was transferred to London where she spent a night in custody after being strip-searched, before the case was dismissed in the West London Magistrates' Court the next day.[60] The hotel was less interested in the blankets than in an unpaid bill. Elliot had entrusted the money to her companion, Harris Pickens "Pic" Dawson III,[61][62] who neglected to settle the account.[63] The police were less interested in the blankets or the bill than in Dawson, who was suspected of international drug trafficking and was the sole subject of their questioning.[64]

Later, at a party hosted by the band to celebrate Elliot's acquittal, John Phillips interrupted Elliot as she was telling The Rolling StonesMick Jagger about her arrest and trial and said, "Mick, she's got it all wrong, that's not how it was at all." Elliot screamed at Phillips and stormed out of the room.[65][66] Elliot was ready to quit, the Royal Albert Hall and Olympia dates were cancelled, and the four went their separate ways. John and Michelle Phillips went to Morocco, Doherty returned to the United States, and Elliot either went to the United States (according to John Phillips) or to a rendezvous in Paris with Pic Dawson (according to Michelle Phillips).[66][67] In an interview with Melody Maker, Elliot unilaterally announced that the Mamas and the Papas had disbanded, saying "We thought this trip would give the group some stimulation, but this has not been so."[68]

John Phillips and Elliot reconciled to complete The Papas & The Mamas, which was released in May 1968. The album was the band's first album not to go gold or reach the top 10 in America. "Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)" was released as a single in August 1967[2] and peaked at No. 20 in the US. After the second single, "Safe in My Garden" (May 1968), made it only to No. 53, Dunhill Records released Elliot's solo from the album, a remake of "Dream a Little Dream of Me", as a single credited to "Mama Cass with the Mamas and the Papas" in June 1968 against John Phillips' wishes.[69] The song reached No. 12 in the US and No. 11 in the UK, making "Dream a Little Dream of Me" the only single by the Mamas and Papas to chart higher in the UK than in the US. The fourth and final single from The Papas & The Mamas, "For the Love of Ivy" (July 1968), peaked at No. 81 in the US. For the second time, Dunhill Records returned to the band's earlier work for a single, releasing "Do You Wanna Dance" from the debut album in October 1968. The song reached No. 76 in the US.[70]

1968–1969: Break-up and People Like Us

The success of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" confirmed Elliot's desire to embark on a solo career, and by the end of 1968 it appeared that the group had split. John Phillips recalled, "Times had changed. The Beatles showed the way. Music itself was heading toward a technological and compositional complexity that would leave many of us behind. It was tough to keep up."[71] The group made its demise official in early 1969, as John Phillips recalled, saying "Dunhill released us from our contracts and we were history, though we still owed the label another album."[72] Elliot, billed as Mama Cass, had released her solo debut Dream a Little Dream in 1968, Phillips released John Phillips (John, the Wolf King of L.A.) in 1970, and Denny Doherty followed with Watcha Gonna Do? in 1971.

Dunhill Records maintained momentum by releasing The Best of the Mamas and the Papas: Farewell to the First Golden Era in 1967, Golden Era Vol. 2 in 1968, 16 of Their Greatest Hits in 1969 and the Monterey live album in 1970. The record company was determined to get the band's contractually obligated last album, for which it had given the band an extension until September 1971.[73] The label warned the band that each member would be sued for $250,000 if the band did not deliver the album.[74][75] A lawsuit and countersuit between the band and label were settled out of court, and it was determined that the band would record under John Phillips's label, Warlock Records, distributed by Dunhill Records.[76] John Phillips wrote a collection of songs, which was arranged, rehearsed, and recorded throughout the year, depending on the availability of the other group members. Band members were rarely together at one time and most tracks were dubbed, one vocal at a time.[77]

The Mamas and the Papas' last album of new material, People Like Us, was released in November 1971. The only single, "Step Out", reached No. 81 in the US. The album peaked at No. 84 on the Billboard 200, making it the only album by the Mamas and Papas not to reach the top 20 in the US. Neither single nor album charted in the UK. Contractual obligations fulfilled, the band's split was final.


Cass Elliot

Cass Elliot had a successful solo career, touring the US and Europe. She appeared frequently on television, including in two specials, The Mama Cass Television Program on ABC in January 1969 and Don't Call Me Mama Anymore on CBS in September 1973. She recorded hits such as "Make Your Own Kind of Music" and "It's Getting Better," but never surpassed her two Dunhill Records albums, Dream a Little Dream (1968) and Bubblegum, Lemonade, and ... Something for Mama (1969). Elliot signed with RCA, but none of the three albums she recorded for the label, Cass Elliot (1972), The Road Is No Place for a Lady (1972), and Don't Call Me Mama Anymore (1973), produced a charting single.

Elliot died of heart failure in London on July 29, 1974, after completing a two-week engagement at the Palladium. The shows were mostly sold out and prompted standing ovations. Her former band mates and Lou Adler attended her funeral in Los Angeles. Elliot was survived by her only child, Owen Vanessa Elliot, who was born in 1967.

John Phillips

John Phillips' country-influenced solo album, John Phillips (John, the Wolf King of L.A.), enjoyed critical favor but was not a commercial success, despite featuring the single "Mississippi", which reached No. 32 in the US. Rolling Stone gave the album four stars when it was reissued in 2006, calling it "a genuine lost treasure".[78] Denny Doherty said that if the Mamas & the Papas had recorded the album, it might have been their best.[79] John Phillips wrote songs for the soundtrack to Brewster McCloud (Robert Altman, 1970)[80] and original music for the soundtracks to Myra Breckinridge (Michael Sarne, 1970)[81] and The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976).[82] He also wrote the ill-fated stage musical Man on the Moon (1975). John Phillips wrote most of the tracks on the album Romance Is on the Rise (1974) by his then-wife Geneviève Waïte, which he also produced, and he co-wrote "Kokomo" (1988), which was a No. 1 hit for the Beach Boys.

John Phillips was lost to heroin addiction through much of the 1970s, a period that included his arrest and conviction in 1980 on a charge of conspiring to distribute narcotics for which he spent a month in jail in 1981.[83][84][85] In later years, he performed with the New Mamas and the Papas (see below) and appeared in revival shows and television specials. He told his side of the Mamas and Papas story in the memoir Papa John (1986),[86] and in the PBS television documentary, Straight Shooter: The True Story of John Phillips and the Mamas and the Papas (1988).[87] John Phillips died of heart failure in Los Angeles on March 18, 2001.[88]

Two albums were released immediately after his death, Pay Pack and Follow (April 2001), which included material recorded in London and New York with members of the Rolling Stones in 1976 and 1977,[89][90] and Phillips 66 (August 2001), an album of new material and reworkings that took its title from the age Phillips would have been when the album was originally slated for its release.[91] A later archival series on Varèse Sarabande included a reissue of John Phillips (John, the Wolf King of L.A.) with bonus tracks (2006), sessions he recorded for Columbia with the Crusaders in 1972 and 1973 released as Jack of Diamonds (2007),[92] his preferred mix of the Rolling Stones sessions released with other material as Pussycat (2008),[93] and his demos for Man on the Moon released as Andy Warhol Presents Man on the Moon: The John Phillips Space Musical (2009).[94]

Phillips had five children:

In 2009, Mackenzie Phillips wrote in her memoir, High on Arrival, that she had been in a long-term sexual relationship with her late father.[95][96]

Denny Doherty

Denny Doherty's solo career faltered after the appearance of Whatcha Gonna Do? in 1971. The follow-up, Waiting for a Song (1974), was not released in the US, although a 2001 reissue by Varèse Sarabande gained wider distribution and is now available as a digital download. The album features Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot as background vocalists in what was to be Elliot's last recorded performance. A single from the album, "You'll Never Know", made the adult contemporary charts. Doherty turned to the stage, making a disastrous start in John Phillips' Man on the Moon (1975). In 1977, he returned to his birthplace, Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he played Shakespeare at the Neptune Theatre under the tutelage of John Neville.[97][98] This led to television work, including a variety program, Denny's Sho*, which ran for one season in 1978. Doherty hosted and voiced parts in the children's program, Theodore Tugboat, and acted in various series, including 22 episodes of the drama Pit Pony.[99] Doherty also performed with the New Mamas and the Papas (see below). An alcoholic through the 1960s and 1970s, Doherty recovered in the early 1980s and stayed sober for the remainder of his life.[100][101]In 1996, Doherty was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.[97]

Doherty answered John Phillips' PBS documentary with the autobiographical stage musical Dream a Little Dream (the Nearly True Story of the Mamas and the Papas) which he wrote with Paul Ledoux and performed in Halifax in 1997[102] and the off-Broadway Village Theater in New York in 2003.[103] The original cast recording, featuring Doherty and supporting band, was released by Lewlacow in 1999.[104]

Doherty died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm at his home in Mississauga, Ontario, on January 19, 2007.[105] He was survived by his three children, Jessica Woods, Emberly Doherty and John Doherty. A documentary by Paul Ledoux, Here I Am: Denny Doherty and the Mamas and the Papas, premiered at Halifax's Atlantic Film Festival in September 2009 and screened on the Bravo cable network as part of the Great Canadian Biographies series in February 2010.[106][107]

Michelle Phillips

While Michelle Phillips' only solo album, Victim of Romance (1977), made little impact, she went on to build a successful career as an actress. Her film credits include The Last Movie (1971), Dillinger (1973), Valentino (1977), Bloodline (1979), The Man with Bogart's Face (1980), American Anthem (1986), Let It Ride (1989) and Joshua Tree (1993). Her television credits include Star Trek: The Next Generation, Hotel, Knots Landing, Beverly Hills, 90210.[108]

Michelle Phillips published a memoir, California Dreamin', in 1986,[109] the same year John Phillips published his. Reading the two books together was, according to one reviewer, "like reading the transcripts in a divorce trial."[110] As the co-writer and owner of the copyright to California Dreamin', Michelle Phillips was an important contributor to the 2005 PBS television documentary California Dreamin': The Songs of the Mamas and the Papas.[111]

The New Mamas and the Papas

The New Mamas and the Papas was a by-product of John Phillips' desire to "round out the picture of reform" as he awaited sentencing on narcotics charges in 1980.[112] He invited his children Jeffrey and Mackenzie, and Denny Doherty, to join him at the Fair Oaks Hospital in Summit, New Jersey, where he was undergoing rehabilitation. The idea of reviving the Mamas and the Papas was born at this time, with John Phillips and Doherty in their original roles, Mackenzie Phillips taking Michelle Phillips' part and Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane of Spanky and Our Gang taking the part of Cass Elliot.[113] Little progress was made until after Phillips served his time in jail. The quartet began rehearsing in earnest and recording demos in the summer of 1981. The band's first performance was in March 1982, when it was praised for its verve and expertise, the impressive precision of the harmonies, and the "feeling ... of genuine celebration" on stage.[114]

The group toured the United States, including residencies in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, but lost $150,000 in its first 18 months. John Phillips called a halt in August 1983 and the New Mamas and the Papas did not perform again until February 1985.[115] The band resumed touring, with concerts in Europe, East Asia, South America, Canada and the United States. At the height of the New Mamas and the Papas, the group was playing up to 280 nights a year.[116] John Phillips stayed off heroin, but he and his daughter remained addicted to alcohol, cocaine and pills. The addictions affected the group's performance, as it was occasionally booed off stage.[117]

Doherty quit the band in 1987 and was replaced by Scott McKenzie (1939–2012). In 1991, Mackenzie Phillips was replaced by Laurie Beebe Lewis,[118] a former vocalist with the Buckinghams who had sang with the band when Mackenzie Phillips was pregnant. John Phillips dropped out of the band after a liver transplant in 1992 and Doherty returned. Lewis and McFarlane left in 1993 and were replaced by Lisa Brescia and Deb Lyons. The band continued to perform with varying line-ups, including Barry McGuire and the recovering John Phillips, until 1998, by which time "the jingle singers who sang those fabulous Cass, Michelle, John, and Denny parts were an aural cartoon".[119] In 1998 the lineup was John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Chrissy Faith, David Baker and Janelle Sadler. After John Phillips and McKenzie retired permanently from touring, Mark Williamson, was brought in.

John Phillips wanted the New Mamas and the Papas to make an album, but could not commit to it".[120][121] Varèse Sarabande released the 1981 demos with other material as Many Mamas, Many Papas in 2010. After 2010, the band is represented on record by live albums including The Mamas and the Papas Reunion Live (1987) featuring the Phillips-Doherty-Phillips-McFarlane line-up and released by Teichiku in Japan,[104] and Dreamin' Live (2005) on Legacy (not the Columbia-Sony imprint) which features John and Mackenzie Phillips, Spanky McFarlane and (probably) Scott McKenzie.[122]


  • John Phillips – Vocals, guitar (1982–1992, 1995–1998) (Died 2001)
  • Denny Doherty – Vocals (1982–1987, 1992–1995) (Died 2007)
  • Scott McKenzie – Vocals, guitar (1987–1998) (Died 2012)
  • Mackenzie Phillips – Vocals (1982–1986, 1987–1991)
  • Spanky McFarlane – Vocals (1982–1993)
  • Laurie Beebe Lewis – Vocals (1986–1987) (Interim 1988–1990) (1991–1993)
  • Lisa Brescia – Vocals (1993–1998)
  • Deb Lyons – Vocals (1993–1998)
  • Barry McGuire – Vocals (1997–1998)
  • Chrissy Faith – Vocals (1998–2000)
  • David Baker – Vocals (1998–2000)
  • Janelle Sadler – Vocals (1998–2000)
  • Mark Williamson – Vocals (1998–2000)

Material loss

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed The Mamas and the Papas among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[123]

Later recognition

In 1986, John and Michelle Phillips were featured in the music video for the Beach Boys' second recording of "California Dreamin'", which appeared on the album Made in U.S.A. Denny Doherty was unavailable to participate. The Mamas and the Papas' own version of "California Dreamin'" was reissued in the UK and peaked at No. 9 in 1997. The song received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2001.

The Mamas and the Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009. Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips, as "the Mamas", were ranked No. 21 on the VH1 network's list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock.

The band received a box set when the four-CD Complete Anthology was released in the UK in September 2004 and in the US in January 2005. It contains the five studio albums, the live album from Monterey, selections from their solo work and rarities including their first sessions with Barry McGuire.[124]

The Mamas and the Papas is the subject of several documentaries, including Straight Shooter, California Dreamin' and Here I Am, Doherty's musical, Doug Hall's The Mamas and the Papas: California Dreamin' (2000)[125] and Matthew Greenwald's Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of the Mamas and the Papas (2002).[126] Cass Elliot is the subject of Jon Johnson's Make Your Own Kind of Music: A Career Retrospective of Cass Elliot (1987)[127] and Eddi Fiegel's Dream a Little Dream of Me: The Life of Mama Cass Elliot (2005).[128] Chris Campion authored Wolfking, a biography of John Phillips that was authorized by the John Phillips Estate.[129][130][131]

Fox acquired the rights to make a film about the Mamas and the Papas in 2000.[132] It was reported in 2007 that "The right script is in the process of being written."[133] Peter Fitzpatrick's stage musical, Flowerchildren: The Mamas and Papas Story, was produced by Magnormos in Melbourne, Australia, in 2011 and revived in 2013.[134][135]

On March 20, 2019, "Straight Shooter" by the Mamas and the Papas was featured on the soundtrack and trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (stylized as Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood), a black comedy feature crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot are both minor characters in the film.


Studio albums

See also


  1. "The Mamas and the Papas Biography". Rock Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  2. Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 36 - The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  3. "The Mamas and the Papas", Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  4. J. Phillips 1986, p. 30.
  5. Eddi Fiegel, Dream a Little Dream of Me: The Life of 'Mama' Cass Elliott (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2005; Pan Macmillan, 2006), pp. 19, 26-27.
  6. M. Phillips 1986, pp. 72–73.
  7. J. Phillips 1986, p. 139.
  8. Greenwald 2002, p. 47.
  9. J. Phillips 1986, p. 122.
  10. Greenwald, pp. 37; 45.
  11. Greenwald 2002, p. 27.
  12. J. Phillips 1986, p. 127.
  13. M. Phillips 1986, p. 52–54.
  14. J. Phillips 1986, p. 129.
  15. Fiegel 2005, p. 154.
  16. Greenwald 2002, pp. 15-16.
  17. Fiegel 2005, p. 165.
  18. Fiegel 2005, pp. 168–169.
  19. J. Phillips 1986, p. 138.
  20. Fiegel 2005, p. 169.
  21. J. Phillips 1986, pp. 138; 142.
  22. Fiegel 2005, pp. 164; 168.
  23. "Biography: California Dreamin'", Barry McGuire Website. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  24. "I Wanna Be a Star: The 45s", David Redd's Mamas and Papas Pages. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  25. J. Phillips 1986, p. 141.
  26. Greenwald 2002, p. 98.
  27. "Does anyone here own the "Go Where You Wanna Go" 45 (Dunhill 4018)?" Steve Hoffman Music Forums, 26–27 July 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  28. M. Phillips 1986, pp. 84–87.
  29. J. Phillips 1986, pp. 140–141; 147–148.
  30. M. Phillips 1986, pp. 80–81.
  31. J. Phillips 1986, p. 136.
  32. Doherty said, "I wrote the tune. John Phillips wrote the lyric." See Dream a Little Dream (the Nearly True Story of the Mamas and the Papas), Denny Doherty Website. Retrieved May 2, 2013. Phillips said he wrote everything, but gave Doherty a co-composer credit because he had inspired the song.
  33. J. Phillips 1986, p. 132.
  34. J. Phillips 1986, pp. 147–148.
  35. Greenwald 2002, p. 142.
  36. Hall 2000, p. 104.
  37. M. Phillips 1986, pp. 91–100.
  38. J. Phillips 1986, p. 203.
  39. "Jill Gibson's Vocals on the 2nd Mamas and Papas LP", Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  40. M. Phillips 1986, p. 100.
  41. Bones Howe Interview Archived July 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Wrecking Crew Website. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  42. Leigh, Spencer (January 22, 2007). "Denny Doherty: Genre-crossing Singer with the Mamas and the Papas". The Independent.
  43. Greenwald 2002, p. 166.
  44. "Dream a Little Dream", Denny Doherty Website. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  45. Fiegel 2005, p. 229.
  46. J. Phillips 1986, p. 182.
  47. Rock Family Trees, Season Two, Episode One: California Dreamin'  Archived June 16, 2013, at, first broadcast on BBC 2, September–October 1998. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  48. M. Phillips 1986, pp. 145–146.
  49. J. Phillips 1986, p. 186.
  50. Fiegel 2005, pp. 172, 192, 215.
  51. Greenwald 2002, pp. 217-220.
  52. Fiegel 2005, pp. 237-238; 327-328.
  53. J. Phillips 1986, pp. 164; 189.
  54. Quoted in "The Legacy of the Mamas and the Papas", Third Estate. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  55. J. Phillips 1986, pp. 191–192.
  56. Fiegel 2005, p. 238.
  57. "The Ed Sullivan Show, September 24, 1967",
  58. Hall 2000, p. 128.
  59. M. Phillips 1986, p. 156.
  60. "Pop Singer Cleared of Theft", The Times, October 7, 1967.
  61. Harris Pickens Dawson III, b. 4 January 1943, d. 16 August 1986 in Long Beach, Brunswick County, North Carolina; see North Carolina, Deaths, 1931-1994, at Family Search. Retrieved May 6, 2013. Dawson is routinely described by contemporaries as a drug dealer; he was also briefly (and wrongly) suspected of involvement in the Manson murders. Fiegel says he was born in 1942 and that his middle name was Pickins, both of which details appear to be incorrect.
  62. Fiegel 2005, p. 143.
  63. Fiegel 2005, pp. 241–243.
  64. Fiegel 2005, pp. 244–245.
  65. Fiegel 2005, p. 246.
  66. J. Phillips 1986, p. 196.
  67. M. Phillips 1986, p. 157.
  68. Fiegel 2005, p. 247.
  69. J. Phillips 1986, p. 207.
  70. "The Mamas & the Papas – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  71. J. Phillips 1986, pp. 207–208.
  72. J. Philips 1986, p. 216.
  73. J. Phillips 1986, p. 241.
  74. Fiegel 2005, p. 326.
  75. The purchasing power conversion from 1970 to 2017 is based on the Consumer Price Index as calculated by Measuring Worth. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  76. "Mamas, Papas, Minus Cass, Record Again". Billboard: 3. April 12, 1969.
  77. J. Phillips 1986, p. 251.
  78. James Hunter, "John Phillips (John the Wolfking of L.A.)", Rolling Stone, 2 November 2006. Matthew Greenwald of Allmusic also gave the album four stars. See John Phillips, John Phillips (John, The Wolf King of L.A.), Allmusic. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  79. Quoted in the television special Straight Shooter: The True Story of John Phillips and the Mamas and the Papas.
  80. Brewster McLeod, IMDB. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  81. Myra Breckenridge, IMDB. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  82. The Man Who Fell to Earth, IMDB. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  83. Phillips 1986, pp. 19-20, 388-397.
  84. Page, Tim. "The '60s Melody Man: John Phillips Made the Mamas and the Papas Sing", Washington Post, 20 March 2001.
  85. Strauss, Neil. "John Phillips, 65, a Papa of the 1960s Group, Dies", New York Times, March 19, 2001.
  86. Phillips, John with Jim Jerome (1986). Papa John: The Autobiography of John Phillips. New York: Doubleday.
  87. The documentary was released as The Mamas and the Papas: Straight Shooter on VHS videocassette by Rhino Home Video in 1989 and on DVD by Standing Room Only in 2008. Amazon. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  88. Cromelin, Richard. "Obituaries: John Phillips – Singer-Songwriter Led the Mamas and the Papas", Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2001.
  89. Lewis, Randy. "New, Solo Album from the Late John Phillips Gets Released, at Last", Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2001.
  90. Phillips 1986, pp. 302-310.
  91. Zimmerman, Lee. "John Phillips: Phillips 66 and Denny Doherty: Waiting for a Song", Goldmine, November 16, 2001.
  92. Klein, Joshua. "John Phillips: Jack of Diamonds ", Pitchfork, 31 October 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2012. Phillips forgetfully refers to the (Jazz) Crusaders as the "Jazz Messengers"; see John Phillips, Papa John, p. 274.
  93. Parrish, Michael. "John Phillips: Pussycat", Dirty Linen, March 2009.
  94. Harris, Craig. "Andy Warhol Presents Man on the Moon: The John Phillips Space Musical", Dirty Linen, March 2010.
  95. M. Phillips & Lifton 2009, pp. 108, 169; 186–191.
  96. Michaels, Sean. "Daughter of the Mamas and the Papas' John Phillips reveals incestuous affair", The Guardian, September 24, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  97. Jennings, Nicholas. "Blasts from the Past", Maclean's, March 11, 1996.
  98. Bergman, Brian. "Papa Denny and His Rock 'n' Roll Adventure", Maclean's, November 17, 1997.
  99. McDonald, William. "A Rock Music Papa Finds Calmer Waters As a Children's Host", New York Times, January 30, 2000.
  100. J. Phillips 1986, p. 185.
  101. Fiegel 2005, pp. 103; 306.
  102. "Papa, Tell Us Another One", Maclean's, 9 July 2001
  103. Sisario, Ben. "Denny Doherty, Mamas and Papas Singer, Is Dead at 66", New York Times, 20 January 2007.
  104. "Denny Doherty Discography", Mama Cass Elliot Pages. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  105. "Mamas and Papas Member Denny Doherty", Washington Post, January 20, 2007.
  106. Here I Am: Denny Doherty and the Mamas and the Papas, Denny Doherty Website. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  107. Here I Am: Denny Doherty and the Mamas and the Papas. IMDB. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  108. Michelle Phillips, IMDB. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  109. Phillips, Michelle. California Dreamin': The True Story of the Mamas and the Papas (New York: Warner Books, 1986).
  110. Julia Cameron, "Papa John by John Phillips with Jim Jerome and California Dreamin' by Michelle Phillips," Los Angeles Times, 21 September 1986.
  111. "California Dreamin': The Songs of the Mamas and the Papas", IMDB. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  112. J. Phillips 1986, p. 388.
  113. J. Phillips 1986, p. 389.
  114. Holden, Stephen. "The Mamas and the Papas", New York Times, March 15, 1982.
  115. J. Phillips 1986, pp. 403-414, 422.
  116. M. Phillips & Liftin 2009, p. 155.
  117. M. Phillips & Liftin 2009, p. 193.
  118. Laurie Beebe Lewis Website. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  119. Greenwald 2002, p. x.
  120. J. Phillips 1986, p. 413.
  121. Hall 2000, pp. 187-189.
  122. The Mamas and the Papas: Dreamin' Live, Allmusic. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  123. Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  124. The Mamas and the Papas: Complete Anthology, Allmusic. Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  125. Hall, Doug. The Mamas and the Papas: California Dreamin' (Kingston, Ontario: Quarry Music Books, 2000).
  126. Greenwald, Matthew. Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of the Mamas and the Papas (New York: Cooper Square Press, 2002).
  127. Johnson, Jon. Make Your Own Kind of Music: A Career Retrospective of Cass Elliot (Hollywood, CA: Music Archives Press, 1987).
  128. Fiegel, Eddi. Dream a Little Dream of Me: The Life of Mama Cass Elliot (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2005).
  129. Rachel Deahl, "Deals", Publishers Weekly, December 13, 2010.
  130. Campion, Chris. "King of the Wild Frontier", The Observer, March 15, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  131. Campion, Chris. "John Phillips: A Lifetime of Debauched and Reckless Behaviour", The Daily Telegraph, September 25, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2009.
  132. Fleming, Michael. "Fox Rocks Mamas and Papas Pix", Daily Variety, August 22, 2000.
  133. Weller, Sheila. "California Dreamgirl", Vanity Fair, December 2007. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  134. Flowerchildren Website. Archived July 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  135. Liversidge, Reuben. "Flowerchildren: The Mamas and the Papas Story", Arts Hub, May 27, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2013.


  • Hall, Doug (2000). The Mamas and the Papas: California DreamIn'. Kingston, Ontario: Quarry Music Books. ISBN 1-88052-216-0.
  • Greenwald, Matthew (2002). Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of the Mamas & the Papas. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 978-0-815-41204-5.
  • Johnson, Jon (1987). Make Your Own Kind of Music: A Career Retrospective of Cass Elliot. Hollywood, C.A.: Archives Press. ISBN 0-94084-901-1.
  • Fiegel, Eddie (2005). Dream a Little Dream of Me: The Life of Mama Cass Elliot. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 0-283-07331-4.
  • Blazek, Matthias (2014). The Mamas and The Papas: Flower-Power-Ikonen, Psychedelika und sexuelle Revolution. Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8382-0577-9.
  • Phillips, Mackenzie; Liftin, Hilary (2009). High on Arrival: A Memoir. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-439-15385-7.
  • Phillips, Michelle (1986). California Dreamin': The True Story of the Mamas and the Papas. New York, NY: Warner Books. ISBN 0-44634-430-3.
  • Phillips, John (1986). Papa John – An Autobiography. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co. ISBN 0-44016-783-3.
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