The Mamas and the Papas
I enjoyed reading the Mamas and Papas story again this morning.
Jim Hendricks, an original member of The Big Three and The Mugwumps, lives nearby and we always talk about him when we pass his house on Cages Bend Road. He wrote "Summer Rain" for Johnny Rivers, and also "Long, Lonesome Highway" for Michael Parks. It's no surprise that Johnny Rivers was an original investor in The Monterey International Pop Festival, considering his close friendship with John Phillips and gang.
Hi Kent -
Great reading your "Revisited Mamas and the Papas" again!!
They were in my Top Ten of favorite groups. Too bad they only lasted a couple of years.
By the way, how did they get their name? I think that was part of their success.
When in doubt, ask the master!
As is usually the case, the road to becoming The Mamas and the Papas made several stops (and pairings) along the way.
John Phillips first scored success with The Journeymen, which also included Scott McKenzie who would record John's "Summer of Love" / Flower Power anthem "San Francisco". Although primarily a trio (the missing third was Dick Weissmann), his second wife Michelle would also sing with the group from time to time. Meanwhile Mama Cass was singing with a group called The Big Three while Denny Doherty was one of The Halifax Three. All of these groups worked in the early-to-mid '60', playing the folk rock circuit, a very popular musical trend at that time.
Denny and Cass first met when they both joined The Mugwumps, a group that also included John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, who would go on to form The Lovin' Spoonful. (Again, listen closely to the lyrics of The Mamas and the Papas' big autobiographical hit "Creeque Alley" and you'll hear this whole thing play out in about three minutes! lol)
After leaving The Mugwumps, Denny teamed with John and Michelle to perform as The New Journeymen, more so to fulfill contractual obligations after the original group had already split up. In 1965, they maxed out their American Express Card (also part of the "Creeque Alley" lyric) and took off for the Virgin Islands to work on new material. It was around this time that John Phillips discovered The Beatles (thanks to some prodding by Denny who, after playing him a Beatles album, told John "Write songs like this."
Cass Elliott (who had a longtime crush on Denny) joined the trio and fought for a spot in the group ... but John was reluctant to let her in because she went "against type" and the image he was shooting for. There was no denying the magical blend of their voices, however ... in fact an early incarnation of John, Michelle, Cass and Denny was called "The Magic Circle" and, after their first recording session for Dunhill, they toyed around with the idea of keeping that name for their first record release.
After working up some new tunes in The Virgin Islands (including "California Dreamin'", "Go Where You Wanna Go" and "Monday Monday") they relocated to Los Angeles to try and make it in the heart of the music scene. (Their friends The Byrds and The Lovin' Spoonful were now hitting the charts and they felt that THEY should be able to do so, too.) In the end, it was the blend of their unique voices (and the fact that this "sound" was created by two guys and two girls) that prompted them to rename themselves "The Mamas and the Papas" ... and the rest, as they say, was history. (It has also been suggested that the inspiration came from The Hell's Angels, the infamous bikers group who referred to their ladies as their "mamas" ... and there just may be a fair amount of truth to that!) Their first release (and most of the early promotional material put out to announce the band) listed them as The Mama's and the Papa's ... but the apostrophes were soon deleted and they remained The Mamas and the Papas from that point forward.
John Phillips not only wrote all their big hits but The Mamas and the Papas were also very successful covering (and rearranging) several other pop tunes like The Beatles' "I Call Your Name", the Motown Hit "Dancing In The Street", The Shirelles' hit "Dedicated To The One I Love", a very slowed-down version of "Do You Wanna Dance" and several others like "My Girl" and "You Baby".
When all was said and done, the whole wild ride lasted just over two years ... yet their music lives on forever. (kk)
Have any stock copies of Go Where You Wanna Go ever turned up? I've only ever heard of promotional copies being issued, along with a picture sleeve, and both of those sell for hundreds of dollars because so few of them exist. If you want to have a great collection by the group featuring all of their original single mixes as well as the ABC solo sides by the group members, all in their original single mixes, I highly recommend this collection from Real Gone Music:
They really outdid themselves with this one.
-- Tom Diehl
Despite owning their complete collection through various means and compilations, I went out and bought "The Complete Singles Collection" anyway, just to have all of the singles, in their original mono mixes, in one place. (Dunhill notoriously issued single edits, in some cases drastically different versions and mixes, all the time. It was infuriating to hear the song on the radio, commit it to memory and then pick up the album and have it sound completely different that what had been etched in your mind, whether it was a change in the orchestral backing or even something as subtle as the line "becoming a reality" being edited out of "Creeque Alley" at the end.)
I don't know if "stock" copies of "Go Where You Wanna Go" existed ... there seems to be a lot of debate on this issue. Even finding a rare promo copy is virtually impossible. The catalog numbers for this single and "California Dreamin'" were only two digits apart ... 4018 to 4020 ... so it wasn't out on the market for very long. It very well may have been sent to radio stations only to see if they could get a buzz going on this brand new group. It failed but the follow-up piece was SO drastically different, it demanded your full attention the very first time it came on. (Here in Chicago "California Dreamin'" was ranked as the #1 Single of 1966 on WCFL, topping their chart for four weeks ... as well as spending another three weeks at #2!) Meanwhile "Go Where You Wanna Go" became the first big hit for The Fifth Dimension a year later ... yet, despite this fact, today you are FAR more likely to hear The Mamas and the Papas' version (if it's played on the radio at all.) kk
Thanks for all the interesting info on the Mamas and the Papas in Wednesday's FH, and for putting to rest what I always suspected about "I Saw Her Again".
When I heard the song for the very first time, I just knew Denny came in early with "I saw her ... " and the strings basically covered the mistake. I did like the finished product, though.
Another song I'm thinking turned out the same way is Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright". Just past two minutes into the song, he sings, "I'm ... I'm alright". I like the way it ended up, too, but what do YOU think?
- John LaPuzza
Wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that that was a mistake ... then again, maybe he was just trying to recreate the effect of The Mamas and the Papas record! Either way, I agree ... a GREAT song and a GREAT break that sets up the next chorus. ALWAYS one of my favorites! (kk)
I saw The Mamas and the Papas at the Palomino in 1988 with Scott McKenzie replacing Denny Doherty, Spanky McFarlane replacing Mama Cass and MacKenzie Phillips replacing Michelle. It was a very good show, including Scott's big hit and a couple of Spanky's. Michelle joined them on the closing song.
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem
I got to see them twice in the latter stages of their career. For the first show (an outdoor Italian Festival type deal held in the parking lot of a shopping center!) the group featured Scott McKenzie (subbing for John Phillips), Denny Doherty (who still sounded great), Spanky McFarlane (covering for Mama Cass) and an unknown fourth who sang Michelle's old background harmonies.
The second show was WAY classier, held at The Drury Lane Theater in Oak Brook, featured John Phillips back on guitar and vocals (he did a "new" solo number that night that I have been searching for for over thirty years ... I don't think it was ever officially released but he was in GREAT voice that night and this song obviously had a big impact on me), Denny Doherty, Spanky McFarlane and MacKenzie Phillips ... pretty much a killer line-up for what was probably the early '80's. I've never seen Michelle or Cass ... SO hard to believe that Michelle is the only one left. I can still listen to ALL of their music to this day and never get tired of it ... certainly among my all-time favorites, too. (kk)
Although I put a lot of research into the 1997 3 CD box set THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS: THEIR GREATEST HITS AND FINEST PERFORMANCES, your piece in Forgotten Hits included details even I did not know.
I remember attending Cass' funeral, seeing John and Michelle exit the church wrapped in each others arms and hearing one Mama Cass hit after another featured on L.A.'s Top 40 radio stations. It's sad that those very stations -- which played "Make Your Own Kind of Music," "It's Getting Better," "New World Coming" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me" so many times -- wouldn't even consider airing one of those tracks today -- despite the fact that they sound better than anything they are running currently.
My 3 CD box set, which is now out of print (even though copies turn up on eBay and amazon from time to time), included not just all the hits but virtually everything the group recorded for Dunhill -- which wasn't really all that much. I reserved the third CD for the quartet's solo work, leaning heavily on Cass' output as she was the most prolific and successful of the group members as a soloist.
Michelle was a problem on that solo disc as her solo A&M singles weren't all that great. I represented Michelle then with some of her rare lead vocals with the group. That disc allowed me to reissue John's terrific "Mississippi" but I was hard pressed to find anything else on his solo "Wolf King of L.A." album even one tenth as good. It appears that, except for "Mississippi," John was simply too strung out during the production of that LP to even approach his former level of creative quality. I wound up including "Pacific Coast Highway" as John's other solo track as it was the best of his other solo album cuts.
One would have thought that Denny, as the Mamas & Papas' usual lead singer, could have gone on to great solo success, but he didn't. I represented Denny's solo work with two obscure cuts from his equally obscure solo album. It's really Cass who shines on that third disc with not only all her solo hits but her best solo LP tracks, some of which were tunes made famous by other artists ("Easy Come, Easy Go," etc.)
Your Forgotten Hits piece mentions The Mamas & Papas' only live release: their Monterey Pop Festival performance, which was, indeed, a huge disappointment. Rather than include any of that, I licensed a sampling of soundtrack clips from the group's "Ed Sullivan Show" appearances. Now THOSE were very good!
Wow, thanks, Gary ... coming from you that means a lot. Denny did some solo work under the production of FH Member John Madara after the group split but you're right, he never really made much of an impact on his own.
Cass' solo hits were great ... thanks to Me-TV-FM, we get to hear quite a few of them again. (My personal favorites will always be "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" and "Make Your Own Kind Of Music". I don't know if you watched that show "Lost" but the first time we ever saw the inside of the infamous hatch we caught Desmond playing Cass' "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" and I will ALWAYS associate that song with that scene from that day forward.
I've searched high and low for both the John Phillips song I heard at the concert mentioned above as well as Michelle's versions of "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "Me And Bobby McGee." We'll never know just how big of a solo career she might have had, had she been able to release these tracks as singles ... especially since today she is pretty much perceived as just "beautiful, meek-voiced Michelle", making little in the way of a contribution to the group's overall sound. (With voices as powerful as Cass' and Denny's, it had to be hard to compete ... and with Papa John writing all the hits, Michelle seemed to be the only one who didn't fill a necessary niche ... other than "just stand there and look beautiful"!!! (kk)
Jan and Dean
Thanks for posting that link to my book. Here's a better link, where the price seems to be more reasonable, if you want to substitute it: http://www.amazon.com/When-Get-Surf-City-Friendship/dp/031237691X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Thank you for honoring Jan. We who knew and traveled with him think about him all the time.
>>>For any who never heard the original version of Jan & Dean’s “Popsicle”, it was by The Todds on the Todd label from 1962. It may be on you tube. (Ken)
>>>Not sure if this is it or not because in one place it's identified as "The Todds" and in another as "Gene and the Pearls"! (kk) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOYGDQ5dH-s
Not only did The Todds record Popsicle first (and your youtube link IS the correct version, by the way), the group also recorded the song Tennessee first. Tennessee would become Jan and Dean's second single for Liberty. Both tracks were written by Buzz Cason and Bobby Russell, who were members of The Todds along with Bergen White.
Sound like Jan and Dean were doing a fair amount of listening to The Todds themselves!!! (lol) kk
I couldn't help but wonder ... is this the same Bobby Russell as the FAMOUS Bobby Russell? (Honey, 1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero, married to Vicki Lawrence Bobby Russell???)
Yessir. He and Buzz Cason and Bergen White worked together a lot over the years. Tomorrow I'll try to remember to send you some other tracks Bobby and Bergen did together. You should try to contact Bergen for comments too ... I know he is fairly active on Facebook. Buzz Cason could probably be reached for comment as well. Check out these 34 pages of records Bergen worked on, and tell me info on some of these wouldn't make for a good interview.
I did a show with Jan and Dean back around 1980. It was weird, because Jan was almost a total vegetable backstage, but once he got onstage, he automatically went right into his act and sounded great. Then, when they finished and he came backstage, he was totally out of it again.
I get the feeling that he was almost "programmed" to perform because they knew there was a limited window of opportunity for him to be focused on the task at hand. The fact that this material was so familiar to him probably helped.
If you haven't read Bob Greene's book "When We Get To Surf City", do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. A GREAT read and a VERY touching account of the whole Jan and Dean "comeback" scene. (Hey, use the discounted link provided by Bob himself above!) kk
In 1996 we played an event for the Rancho Los Amigos rehab facility and Jan Berry was there.
He had apparently been getting regular therapy there.
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
Lots of Chicago talent last night: Cheap Trick, Chicago, Steve Miller. Kudos to the city of music!
Great Hall of Fame review by Ron Onesti - I saw Danny's acceptance speech on your site the following day and you could tell he was truly touched to have been included - and misses his former bandmates.
Danny's speech was especially emotional, sincere and heartfelt ... it shows just how blessed he truly feels to have had the career he's had ... how sad that somebody like Peter Cetera doesn't seem to appreciate any of it ... this is the connection that got him where he is today ... and has allowed him to spend his entire career entertaining the world with his incredible music. Set it aside for a night, dude ... and enjoy and celebrate the magic. (kk)
First of all, I agree with 100% of what you say about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selection process. I read Ron Onesti's review of the induction ceremony, and it sounded like a good time for all, especially when Danny Saraphine got to rejoin Chicago. I've always been hoping that water could flow under the bridge and that somehow he could get back in the band.
I was a jazz drummer most of my teenage years and early twenties, so rock bands with horn sections were very appealing to me. There were several out there that put a dent in pop music. The ones that come to mind are Chase, Tower of Power, Ides of March, Dreams, and Lighthouse, but there were only two that achieved super stardom, namely, Chicago and Blood, Sweat, & Tears. Now that Chicago has made it into the Hall, I sincerely hope that SOMEDAY, B,S&T will be considered for the honor.
- John LaPuzza
I agree that both of these groups belong in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... but cannot help but wonder (due to the way the organization continues to "pick and choose" which members are actually being inducted) that if it ever comes to this, if founding member (and the guy who came up with the whole horn-rock concept in the first place) Al Kooper will be included. He was famously fired from his own band after the release of their first album. The group then inserted lead vocalist David Clayton Thomas and that's what turned on the hit-making machine. We've talked to Al about this several times before in Forgotten Hits ... and, while he feels he'd most likely be excluded (in much the same way that he's never mentioned in conjunction with discovering and first producing Lynyrd Skynyrd all these years later) he should, at the VERY least, be inducted for all his "sideman" duties over the years. ("Like A Rolling Stone" anyone???) kk
I really appreciate your help. ForgottenHits60s ... a fantastic blog!
Saw The Buckinhams videos on your site! We have all those videos on my FB page: "Facebook.com/Dennistufanosings”
Would you pass this on to your readers?
Hope to see you May 1st in Skokie for the Cornerstones of Rock Show!!!! It would be great to see you man! Be well.
Best to you and Frannie :)
PS I still can’t find The Dating Game and The Midnight Special with Tufano and Giammarese!
Well, let's put the word out on those two ... maybe some of the readers can help.
Hoping to make the Skokie show ... plus I've never been to this venue. Hope to see you and all the guys there! (kk)
By the way, DJ Rockin' John and Forgotten Hits Reader Joanie Baker will be interviewing Dennis Tufano this Saturday night at 6 pm Chicago time ... here's "Listen Live" link. The show will also be archived for those (like me) who won't be around to hear it the first time it airs. (kk)
Click http://wort-fm.org/listen-live/ on Saturday, 6 pm CDT.
This And That
Frankie Valli meets Bob Dylan.
When I bought this 45, you had to connect the dots on the record sleeve ... if you couldn't figure out who was singing.
Yeah, and in all my years of record collecting and mail order record sales it was virtually IMPOSSIBLE to find a clean one that hadn't been written on or "connected"! (lol) kk
Monkee MICKY DOLENZ was interviewed last week at Sirius / XM by Bruce Morrow. Dolenz talked about the new Monkees album, "Good Times", out in June on Rhino and their 50th Anniversary tour beginning next month.
I got an announcement from Amazon earlier this week that the new Monkees LP has been moved up in the schedule ... so I'm guessing all issues have now been resolved regarding the track line-up. Sounds like a really fun LP. (kk)
>>>Speaking of commercials which run in the background songs from days gone by, last night here on television I saw one for the first time. Can't remember the product or whether it was a local or national commercial, but the song in the background was WORRIED MAN but it wasn't the Kingston Trio singing it. (Larry)
Larry might be referring to this Pitney Bowes spot:
– Randy Price
It sounds like the long-running court dispute over copyright infringement on the Led Zeppelin classic "Stairway To Heaven" is back on again. (We've run several clips in the past showing the Spirit tune written by Randy California that sounds suspiciously similar to the FM Classic Rock staple.)
Led Zeppelin has been found guilty a few times in the past of putting their name on material that they "borrowed" from other artists, most notably blues artists and tracks like "Whole Lotta Love". I guess they've just made so much money off this music that a little kick-back after all these years seems somewhat insignificant ... but it's still wrong! (kk)
Record Store Day
Looks familiar ... but what are those things on the bottom shelf???
submitted by Stu Weiss
Record Store Day is tomorrow
This Weekend In Forgotten Hits
Also tomorrow is our latest SWEET 16 FEATURE ... don't miss it! (This is another "traveling weekend" for us so I'll try to send a reminder out before we leave ... and there will be no Sunday Comments this week. Be sure to check out our brand new SWEET 16 ... a fun little feature called WHAT'S THE NAME OF THAT SONG???)