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The story of the Mamas and the Papas begins with John Edmund Andrew Phillips. He was born in 1935 in Virginia. He was fascinated by the close harmoneis of groups such as The Four Lads, but embraced the rise of rock'n'roll and Elvis Presley in 1956. He created a jazz quartet named The Abstracts, who were later renamed The Smoothies. They appeared on American Bandstand in 1960. Later, Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Dick Weissman formed a trio called The Journeymen. In 1961, John became obsessed with a stunning seventeen year old Model named
Holly Michelle Gilliam. He named her the "California Girl", divorced his wife, and mairried Michelle on the last day of 1962.


In 1963, The Journeymen were touring, and that's when John befriended Denny Doherty. Denny was the lead sing of the Halifax Three, at the time. Later, Denny left this group to work with a brassy contralto named Ellen Naomi Cohen (Cass Elliot). As part of the group the Mugwumps, Denny and Cass formed a lasting friendship.

In the meantime, personality conflicts were forcing the Journeymen to break apart. John, determined to regroup, formed The New Journeymen with Michelle, banjo player Marshall Brickman, and Denny Doherty handling the lead vocals. In 1965, John, Michelle, and Denny took a vacation from the folk music scene and fled to the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Cass, who had a romantic interest in Denny, soon followed the group. At first, they lived
in tents on the beach and sat on the sand working out the harmonies of their early masterpieces.


Cass wasn't formally a part of the group yet, but desperately wanted in. John wouldn't allow it because her voice didn't go along with his required vocal mesh. But, it is said that an accidental blow to her head somehow raised her singing voice a full tone higher, which fit in perfectly with his harmonies. At a boarding house called Duffy's on the street of Creeque Alley, the group
perfected their sound. They returned to New,York and found that the musical focus and shifted to the West Coast, so it was off to California in the summer of 1965.


In Los Angeles, they met with and old friend, Barry McGuire. He introduced them to his producer, Lou Adler. He was stunned at the wealth of fantastic material the group had ready for the studio. They audition with California Dreamin' and were signed on instantly.

In the midst of all this, the topic of a name for the group was neglected. When Cass overheard a biker on a Los Angeles talk show refer to the women in his gang as "mamas", she declared that she and Michelle were "The Mamas". The names stuck and the rest followed! Ironically, Cass would find herself burdened with the name "Mama Cass" for the rest of her life. Later, in her solo career, she grew to dislike the name intensley.

In the Summer of '66, things got bad for the group. Michelle and Denny had an affair, which split the group immensley. At one point, John fired Michelle and she was replaced by Jill Gibson, Lou Adler's girlfriend. Michelle eventually returned, but this was the beginning of the end for The Mamas and The Papas.


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Several websites and information from the Greatest Hits cd were used to compile this short history.