A brief one....
More news to follow soon (including 'net ordering info., etc.)...and thanks again for your support!
Creeque Alley Update Spring 2001
Once again, I would like to apologize for the long delay between updates on "Creeque Alley (The Oral History Of The Mamas & The Papas)". Many things have happened in the last several months, and obviously, the passing of John Phillips has affected the history of the group as well as this book1s progress.
First things first: As you all know, John died on March 19th at UCLA Medical Center, after battling various ailments. The following week, Lou Adler opened up his fabled Roxy Theatre in Hollywood for a three-hour memorial/celebration to John, his life and his music. I was lucky to attend and honored to have a small part in organizing some of the evening1s entertainment. The performers included Denny Doherty, Michelle Phillips, Spanky McFarlane, Barry McGuire, P.F. Sloan, Eric "The Doctor" Hord, Mackenzie Phillips, John Stewart, and many, many others. It was a beautiful evening, and a perfect send off to John, a musician and songwriter who changed so many people1s lives. To be sure, all of the great, golden-era anthems were performed with fine spirit, and most off all, love. Some of the most affecting moments included Denny and P.F. Sloan doing a gorgeously slow, acoustic duet of "You Baby", and Barry McGuire1s positively devastating version of "Eve Of Destruction", with the song1s writer, P.F. Sloan on guitar. Michelle Phillips, who wasn1t planning in singing, was overcome with folk/rock fever of the evening and joined in on harmony vocals for the second half of the show, and it was trulywonderful. Howard Frank and Paul Suratt put together a beguiling collection of rare video clips of The Mamas & The Papas, which was shown during the first half of the evening.
Aside from the great musical moments during the evening, perhaps the most emotional quarter hour was provided by John Stewart1s farewell poem to John Phillips. Stewart (who1s relationship with John Phillips traces back to 1960) had been a bit hard to pin down for the book before this evening, but I finally got a chance to meet him and schedule a last minute interview, which will be included in the text. If that1s not nice enough, Johnny Stew also took the time to revise and expand his Roxy send off to Phillips, and offer it to me for inclusion in "Creeque Alley". It will now be in the last section of the book, and I think all of you readers will find it inspiring and heartfelt, and a great way to end the book. Nuff said.
Some of the other final interviews for the book during the last few months have included Barry McGuire, Nurit Widle, and Roger McGuinn. Denny and Michelle have also recently taken the time to give me final thoughts on John, as well as The Mamas & The Papas legacy, during the last few weeks, and I think you will find these to be worth the wait. As I write this update, I am in the process of doing the book1s "final" edit. "Final1 is a relative term, but we1re almost at the end of the road
Speaking of waiting, the book is still scheduled for release on Cooper Square Books by early 2002. Some of the delays have been obviously due to John1s passing, but also due to tracking down some last-minute, previously unseen photos from Michelle Phillips1 scrapbook of madness, and I1m sure once you see these that you1ll agree that they alone will be worth the wait. (Thanks, Mitchie!). I1m presently working closely with my editor at Cooper Square Books to include as many photos as possible in "Creeque Alley". I1d also like to thank Sandy Granger and Richard Campbell again for their generous contributions to the project.
The Mamas & The Papas feature film on Fox is about to enter pre-production. Release date information is unknown at the time of this writing, but the wheels certainly seem to be in motion. Also, Denny Doherty is planning on bringing his fabulous musical play, "Dream A Little Dream", to theaters in the United States by the end of this year. More about that next time.
Aside from John's passing (god bless him), I'm delighted to bring you some positive news and I thank you for your continued interest in the book. Please keep in touch.
Safe In My Garden.
After a long journey and much faith, I've finally and officially signed a publishing deal for by book-in-progress, "Creeque Alley: The Oral History of The Mamas & Papas". The book will be published by Cooper Square Press, a music book subsidiary of the Roman & Littlefield Publishing group, one of the nation's oldest and most respected publishers. The projected release date of the book is tentatively early 2002, although this could change.
Many things have been happening in regards to the books' progress since the beginning of this year. One of the most important being that I was finally able to interview Jill Gibson, who briefly replaced Michelle in the Summer of 1966. Her quotes are candid and direct, and have enriched the project greatly. I was also able to secure some quotes from Arthur Garfunkel regarding the formulation and planning of the Monterey Pop International Festival, via radio personality "Redbeard". Also, Russell Gilliam (Michelle's sister) graciously took the time to lend us her recollections of her time with Michelle, The New Journeymen, as well as the Virgin Islands trip in 1965, and she really came up with some unusual and fresh angles that are extremely dynamic.
Aside from editing the book, I've been hard at work on the photo selection, and I'm happy to say that the photos in the book will mostly consist of shots that have never before been published.
On another note, Fox has announced that a movie deal for a Mamas & the Papas film has officially been signed. This has nothing directly to do with my book, but hopefully the timing of both projects will be beneficial to everyone, especially the fans.
I'll keep y'all posted on future progress of "Creeque Alley". Thanks once again for all of your continued support and enthusiasm. Please stay tuned & in touch!
Words Of Love, Matthew Greenwald
Thank you all for your interest in the work in progress, Creeque Alley: The True Story Of The Mamas & The Papas. If you aren't familiar already with the books' outline, please allow me to explain:
Creeque Alley is the oral history of The Mamas & The Papas, as told by the people who were there - in their own voices. Aside from band members and associates, Creeque Alley has numerous accounts from people of all walks of life who came into contact with the band, from record company executives, to recording engineers, producers, session musicians, musical contemporaries of the period, members of the film industry, to fans.
The story of the band's rags to riches story is a wild one, indeed. Aside from the full story of how the group's music was created - music which is still a yardstick for beauty and elegance in pop music, Creeque Alley delves into the personal inter-relationships of the band members. The highly-emotional connections between Cass, Michelle, Denny and John that almost broke the group up before they started- and several times before they called it quits - somehow made The Mamas & The Papas music more dramatic. The full story is in the pages...
I've come into some incredible good fortune in gathering interviews. I cannot name them all right now, but just a few of the participants include Bones Howe, Hal Blaine, Graham Nash, Henry Diltz, P.F. Sloan, and many, many others.
Photos will be a big part of the book, and I've had great luck in securing many unpublished photos which will be seen for the first time ever in Creeque Alley. Several of them were taken by renowned rock photographer, Henry Diltz - the veritable Forest Gump of rock & roll.
As for me, I am a freelance music journalist here in Los Angeles. I write for BAM, Rolling Stone On-Line, The Tracking Angle, Record Collectors (Japan), and several other magazines. In August, and article I wrote on John Phillips regarding is "Half-Stoned" album appeared in Rolling Stone's Random Notes. In the January issue of Record Collectors (Japan), my interview with Michelle Phillips will be appearing.
I've had some great luck of late getting contacts for interviews. Stephen Sanders, who was the road manager for The Mamas & the Papas, recently contacted me through a mutual friend, the great rock journalist and fiction writer, Ellen Sander. Stephen and I spent a wonderful afternoon at Ellen's home, and he has some great stories about the group on the road. As the Mamas & the Papas did a relatively small number of concerts, this is extremely vital information. More to follow.
Had a great interview with Ray Manzarek of The Doors. You may find it interesting to find out that Ray actually played keyboards on a Mamas & the Papas recording. Yes, it was released - but that's the only hint that I'll give you. Please feel free to email me with any of your guesses....
Jim Mason was in a band called "Webster's Last Word", and they opened numerous shows for the band. Jim's truly one of nature's gents, and his participation is *most *welcome to Creeque Alley. I also did a great interview with Dick Weissman, former banjo player with The Journeymen. Dick's been a great help with the book aside from the interview, and I am extremely grateful.
Finally, I'd like to urge all of you to pick up Varese Serabande's great new collection, "The Magic Circle - Before They Were The Mamas & the Papas". It's a great album that shows you the genesis of the group through the early 1960's. It also has some great liner notes from Richard Campbell, one of the true scholars of the group. Take a bow, Richard. Thank you also to Sandy Granger, a Mama & the Papas archivist who has been indispensable to the progress of the project in more ways than one. Thanks, bro.
I've gotten some great email response from you people on the Creeque Alley mailing list. It's truly invaluable, and I hope that many of you will continue to correspond with me. The support is more than appreciated. I will try to send out another update by summer. There is a lot more that I want to tell you, but it's best that I wait until I have confirmation on a few things. Some of this is pretty exciting.'till then - "please live your life as you please..."
Summer is without a doubt here in Los Angeles, and despite the triple-digit temperatures, everything with "Creeque Alley - The Oral History of The Mamas & The Papas" is going extremely cool....
But before I go any further, I'd like to thank every one of you for all of your correspondence over the last few months regarding the book project. I apologize to those whom I haven't gotten back to quickly. I hope to in the near future, so please stay in touch.
In July I made it to Halifax, Nova Socia to see Denny Doherty's play, "Dream A Little Dream", and I must tell you all that it was fabulous. The play is narrated by Denny and tells the story of his life and the group, and it is done masterfully. His band, The Dream Band, is more of a mini orchestra than a recycled Mamas & Papas, and they perform wonderfully, and Denny's voice is in excellent shape. As P.F. Sloan told me, "It's what you'd imagine aged cognac would sound like..." So true! There is talk of bringing the play to the U.S. in the near future, and if I hear any details, I'll be sure to let you know when & where it plays. You shouldn't miss it. There is also an excellent soundtrack available on Lewlacow Records (Canada). I was able to speak with Denny at length, and that was a lot of fun as well. You'll read all about it in the book, which I hope will finally be out next year. Much more about that very soon.
I've conducted a lot of interviews recently, and they have all elevated this project beyond my wildest expectations. Two members of The Modern Folk Quartet, Cyrus Faryar and Jerry Yester, both granted me extensive interviews, and I got some of the best comments about hanging out with the group so far. Jerry told me about a couple of impromptu performances by the group at The Trip and The Action on the Sunset Strip in Autumn 1965 - well before "California Dreamin'" broke - their first appearances as The Mamas & The Papas on stage in America, ever. Certainly unannounced!! Cyrus elaborated on many things - all astounding - including hanging out with Michelle Phillips and Gene Clark in Laurel Canyon in that strange summer of 1966...
Frank Werber, who managed The Journeymen as well as The Kingston Trio, granted me a lengthy interview about his days with John, as well as what went on behind his turning down the Mamas & Papas in San Francisco in the summer of 1965. Mark Volman of The Turtles reflected about the days in Laurel Canyon with the group, as well as some interesting comments on touring along with The Mamas & The Papas. His was easily one of the more insightful interviews I've done to date for the book, and I'm sure you'll enjoy his generous contributions.
Clark Burroughs, who sang and arranged vocals for The Hi Lo's - perhaps John Phillips greatest influence as a group aside from Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - graciously lent his comments to Creeque Alley recently as well, and some of his insights on vocal sounds and arranging will be revelatory. Finally, I was able to spend a couple of hours with none other than Mamas & Papas producer Lou Adler himself, at his breathtaking home in Malibu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Despite the fact that I thought Lou had answered most of the questions about The Mamas & The Papas numerous times in past interviews, he came up with many fresh angles and recalled numerous details that have never been spoken about previously regarding the group, and I'm sure that you'll see what I mean when you read the book.
I hope many of you caught Michelle Phillips excellent portrayal in the VH-1 movie about Sweetwater. Hopefully I will be able to get Michelle's thoughts on making the movie on the next Creeque Alley update....
Finally, I'd like to thank Sherry of the Creeque Alley web page :
and Kim of Kim's Mamas & Papas web page:
for their great Mamas & Papas web pages - they are both easily the finest Internet guides to The Mamas & The Papas. I am indebted to both of them for their support of my book. Hats off to my "Fifth Mamas"!! Thanks, girls, for your excellent work and dedication to the music.
Lots of great news forthcoming, and hopefully some more concrete details soon about a publisher and the date of release of "Creeque Alley" - this is being discussed as your read this. Thanks again for all of your support, and as usual, please fell free to email me any questions or comments....
Hello friends! At the outset, I'd like to apologize for the fact that there hasn't been an update since last summer on my book-in-progress, 'Creeque Alley - The Oral History Of The Mamas & the Papas'. Due to a lot of complications - some personal and some directly related to the book itself - I needed to wait before I sent out any further information. One of the main reasons was that I was waiting to have a firm publishing deal. We were very close to that at the beginning of the year, but, as it turned out, things have worked out much better that this particular deal didn't happen....
At this point, however, I'm about a month away from signing a deal for the book with a publisher who actually was the one who has wanted it almost two years. I can't give out the publisher's name or actual release date at this point, but am confident that I will have a signed contract before summer.
As far as progress on the book itself though, a lot of things have happened over the last several months that I am very happy to share with you. First at foremost, I finally located and interviewed the elusive Eric Hord - known to all us as 'The Doctor'. Doc was all but a member of the group, a guitarist/banjo genius who not only led the Mamas & the Papas touring band and performed on all of their records (except the debut), but knew all the group members intimately. Doc was one of the inhabitants on the Virgin Islands trip, when the group and sundry friends 'got it together' in the summer of 1965. His contributions have enriched this project beyond belief.
After much faith and waiting, I finally was able to pin down David Crosby for an interview. Croz phoned me from the road during the current CSN&Y tour and gave me some of his recollections on his relationships with the group, especially Cass. Some of this is wonderfully and brutally frank.
I also scored a great coup when I not only interviewed Andrew Loog Oldham, but also arranged for him to write the intro to the book. Andrew is primarily known as the original manager of the Rolling Stones, and was also one of the organizers of the Monterey Pop Festival. His unique prose and insights can be found on numerous early Stones liner notes, and now we're getting the same treatment for Creeque Alley...it's wonderful, I promise.
Through Andrew, I was also able interview legendary singer/songwriter, Donovan. Donovan was quite close to the group (and especially Cass) in 1966. As an added bonus, Donovan also graciously sent me a piece of original artwork that he made of one of the group members at the time of their initial meeting. It's a one of a kind piece, and I'm sure you'll all be happy when you see it.
I also located Ann Marshall. Anne, the daughter of legendary actor Herbert Marshall, was not only a close friend of the group, but also acted as sort of a 'social secretary' for John and Michelle during those heady days of 'pop royalty' in 1967, and I am pleased beyond belief that I was able to get her thoughts for the book.
Folks, thanks again for your encouragement and interest throughout this long - and hopefully rewarding - ordeal. I'm thinking of subtitling 'Creeque Alley', 'The Book That Wouldn't Die'. Please feel free to keep in touch via email. Publishing and release information to follow...soon.