Personalities | The Mamas & The Papas | Sixties | Rock

(Vocal group, 1964–68)

Singers Michelle Gilliam, Cass Elliot (real name Naomi Cohen), John Phillips and Denny Doherty had been part of the folk and fringe theatre scene in New York. On trying their luck in Los Angeles – where Phillips had made useful music industry connections – ‘California Dreamin’’ and ‘Monday Monday’ were recorded with session musicians underpinning the four’s vigorous and contrapuntal chorale. After these each rose high in the US Top 10 in 1966, The Mamas and The Papas reached a global audience too. Further hits included ‘Dedicated To The One I Love’ and ‘Creeque Alley’. Personal traumas and a vexing run of comparative flops led to disbandment, but all ex-personnel remained in the entertainment industry. However, while Gilliam became a moderately successful film actor, only Elliot sustained any measure of chart success, mainly in Britain where she died in 1974. Twelve years later, Doherty and Phillips with two female vocalists took a Mamas and The Papas on the first of many tours on the 1960s nostalgia circuit.

Styles & Forms | Sixties | Rock
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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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