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Record Collectors/Japan “Letter From L.A.” Jan. 22, 2003

“Go Where You Wanna Go” – The Oral History Of The Mamas & The Papas” By Matthew Greenwald

The story of how this book came about is almost as wild as the story of The Mamas & The Papas themselves. The genesis came from my meeting with the late John Phillips (and Scott MacKenzie) on July 3/4, 1988 (issue #?). Upon returning from that trip to Palm Springs, I reflected on the history of the group, and also, because of the fact that’d previously interviewed Michelle Phillips in January of that same year (LFLA issue?), as well as some of the other people who had been involved in the group, it seemed feasible that I could put a book together about the group’s tumultuous history. I was inspired by the oral history format of Jac Holzman and Gavin Daws’ history of Elektra Records, “Follow The Music”, as well as a (sadly unpublished) oral history of Love that my good friend Kevin Delaney was working on at the time.

The first big break came when I called legendary session drummer Hal Blaine for an interview. Aside from an outstanding and very candid interview about his experiences with the group, Hal asked who else I was looking for. I had already re-read both John and Michelle Phillips’ individual 1980’s autobiographies, and wrote down a long list of names, and handed it to Hal. We walked right into his office, and amazingly, he opened up his Rolodex and said, “Get your pen out, kid.” I left with contacts for P.F. Sloan, Lou Adler, Steve Barri, Bones Howe, Barry McGuire and “The Doctor”, Eric Hord, among others. Not bad for a couple of hours and a pizza with a great musician!

When I called Michelle Phillips up about the book idea, she was extremely enthusiastic, but only wanted to get involved further if I got Denny Doherty on board, which of course, was already part of the plan. She gave me his address in Canada and suggested that I write him, which I immediately did. She had her doubts about John getting involved, but didn’t really care. “Just get Denny involved and I’ll be there.” This proved a bit more difficult than I had anticipated – but more about that later. Around this time, I also called John, explained my idea, and received the following comment: “Ill save ya a lot of trouble, Matthew. I don’t do anything that Michelle’s involved in. Bye!” Things looked bleak, but I persisted. I conducted several interviews from Hal’s contacts, which also led to many others. I must take the opportunity here to mention that Bones Howe was probably the book’s biggest cheerleader in its early months. “You’d better get this story down before everyone forgets…”

While waiting for Doherty, the John (and Cass Elliot) problem was solved, to some degree. I obviously couldn’t get a ‘new’ interview from Cass. However, I had in my record collection a copy of the Dunhill 2-LP set, A Gathering Of Flowers, which contains, aside from some odd studio chatter, interview snippets from both John and Cass, both conducted in 1970, when the anthology was produced. But, in addition to that, I had the ‘white label/D.J.’ copy, which included a bonus disc with the complete Cass and John interviews. MCA/Universal Records, who currently distribute the groups’ catalogue, had already been enthusiastic about the book project, and fortunately – for my sake – granted swift permission for me to use the material in printed form for the first time. This was a major turning point.

I had written to Denny Doherty in Canada and waited a couple of months. Nothing had happened; no reply. I was about to write him again, but thought I’d check in with Michelle first. It was a very strange phone call, and she agreed. “You know, I was just thinking about you trying to contact Denny. I’m right in the middle of packing my bags to go to Canada, as his wife just passed away.” We both agreed that I cool my heels and let some time pass. This is what I did, while conducting further interviews (among them Lou Adler, who led to Andrew Loog Oldham), making edits, and putting a “minus Doherty” version together. About eight months later, I learned that Denny was getting ready re-launch his play about the group, “Dream A Little Dream” in Halifax, Nova Socia, Canada. I quickly got a small assignment from Rolling to review the play, and through contacts at The Neptune Theatre in Nova Socia, I was able to arrange an after-show meeting with Doherty. It turns out we were staying at the same hotel. Denny was amazed that I flew all the way from L.A. to review the play, introduce myself, and explain the book. “Whatever ya need, Matt, you got it. Here’s my phone number. The play ends next month; call me after that and we’ll do some phone interviews.” I swear that I didn’t need a plane to fly back to California after that. I called Michelle upon my return, and she was in.

The book was officially published last June (2002) by Cooper Square Press in the U.S., and is available via most Internet outlets, such as, Barnes &,, among others. You can also go directly to the publisher at

Special thanks (in English): Sandy Granger, Gus Duffy, Ruby Rubens and especially Kelly, who posted updates on the book’s progress on her excellent M&P’s website as it developed. You can view these at:

A Review Taken From the Denny Doherty Dream Board....

GREENWALD'S book covers a LOT of data from the 60's that's new since he interviewed so many people. This fills in a lot of space that was left open before.

- Posted by John Sands

A review of the book: Go Where You Wanna Go by Matthew Greenwald

So you think you know everything about our pals, John, Mitchie, Cass and Denny? Think again!

Even though I'm one of those huge M and P fans who thinks they're a big know-it-all, I have to admit after reading this book I was re-educated.

First of all, you'll never going to believe what was the last straw that broke up the group. We all know about the relationship drama and Cass itching to be a solo act. But wait until to hear what Michelle says to Lou Adler while on their voyage to England. It will blow you away!

Another great part about this book is that it was post reaction to John Phillips death. Granted, we all loved Papa John and he will always be known as a brilliant songwriter and music icon, but his death brought truthful confessions and a deeper insight to the post Papa John image after his 80's rehabilitation and "alleged" new life.

Through Michelle and others, the reader learns how John became detatched, desperate for money and constsnt touring (the gigs as the New Mamas and Papas wasn't that glamorous), one last hit song and how he fought with just about everyone else, including members of his own family.

Michelle and Denny wanted, just like you and me for the long-awaited Mamas and Papas movie to make it to the big screen, but John wasn't as enthusiac. It was a troubled John we always hoped would recover one day, but somehow never quite did. What you will read will move you to a part of John no one really understood.

The photos are truly amazing. Believe me, you never seen these before! I think one important thing to mention in this book is that all the interviews (with the obvious exception of Cass)are mostly new. Also the band players like Joe Osborne, Hal Blaine, and every Dunhill and vital ABC person who worked with the Mamas and Papas are given a chance to speak their mind. It's a very refreshing book in that sense.

More compelling insight is given to Cass, the loner, the rock and roll mama, the solo artist dreamer. You will understand Cass as the very complex person she was. The person who used heroin. A woman with a big heart. A artist afraid she would never make on her own. And a mother who lived for her daughter.

More talk of "un-released" Mamas and Papas songs are discussed and detail of how it felt to be at the very pinnacle of the music world and how it felt crashing down is released and left to savor.

And of course, you have to read John's last moment with Michelle days before his death. It will put tears in your eyes and make you understand that behind all of the drama John and Michelle went through was a love that will last as long as their music and perhaps stronger than any of us will ever really know.

- Shawn Fitzpatrick

Los Angeles, CA

23 yrs old

A must for M&P fans...definitely worth reading , June 12, 2002 Reviewer: Richard J. Maher from Santa Ana, CA United States

I was looking forward to this book for a long time. I had read John and Michelle Phillips' books so I knew the basic story. I was looking for more information about Cass, John, Michelle, and Denny...confessions, secrets, revelations, etc. So I bought the book and sat down and read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but when I was done I was not satisfied...I wanted more. I know the author worked on this a long time gathering interviews and talking to those who knew the Mamas and Papas. I can only assume that the editor went beserk and snipped too much out of the book, making some comments short and choppy...and possibly dropping other recollections altogether. For instance...not one quote from "Duffy" of Creeque Alley fame. I read on the Internet that the author found him on some south sea island...but not one word from him in the book. There were people I was expecting to be interviewed that weren't, like MacKenzie Phillips and Leah Kunkel, Cass' sister. I wish there was more from, or at least about, Jill Gibson. She was always such a mystery. It was so hush-hush at the everybody was under a gag order from the record company. One thing that was cool was the discussion of who sings on album #2...Michelle or Jill? They both recorded the songs (Jill said she recorded ten of the twelve songs) but which voice was singing which songs on the album? They barely got Michelle's picture back on the cover in time for release. Lou Adler says Jill recorded six songs but he indicates Michelle taped over them upon her return...Michelle indicates she just doesn't know who is singing what. This is a mystery that I have wondered about. I still don't have an answer, but at least it was discussed.But after all my whining about wanting more after reading the book, I have to say I did enjoy it. I didn't stumble upon too much that was new, but I liked the format the book uses of different people's opinions and recollections. It was refreshing and fun reading. Many interesting opinions were shared...especially from those who worked close to the group in the studio. It is a good book, and I think it could have been an excellent book if it wasn't over-edited.

THE Definitive Book About the First Royal Family of Pop, June 10, 2002 Reviewer: Sandy Granger from Mesquite, TX, USA

I was involved in this project almost from the start. I wrote the discography and contributed a photo. I am also quoted in the book. But none of that means that I got to read the final print until it was released. I was blown away! If you are looking for a novel about the group go to the library. That's been done. This is a fantastic collection of quote after qoute of the people that were there. Some of them will be very familar and some of them you will get to know. They are all part of the comedy and drama that led up to and lasted through the incredible "bubble" in time that was The Mamas and The Papas. And it doesn't stop there. The revelation and confessions don't stop until the last day when the manuscript had to be submitted for publishing. You don't want to miss Michelle's deathbed good-bye to John or any of the other rare moments and photo images in this, probably one of the best tomes ever assembled about any of the rock-n-roll greats.PLEASE NOTE: I have no financial stake in the success - or lack of success - in this publication. I do, however, express my opinions freely and honestly. This book deserves to be read and the enlightened reader deserves this exceptional book.

An excellent work!, May 25, 2002 Reviewer: Ricardo-Paderni from Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires Argentina

It's fantastic! I have expected its release since I first learnt that it was gonna be written (approx. 2 years ago). It's been a long time but it was worth the wait. I've read Michelle's and John's biographies and even Hall Doug's California Dreamin' and I think that Greenwald's GO WHERE YOU WANNA GO is not just another book in the Mamas and the Papas' bibliography. You can always find something new throughout it that has not been mentioned in the other books. As the title says it's an oral history and it's told not only by Michelle, Cass, John, and Denny, but also by all those who directly or indirectly were part of their roller-coaster lives. The book has the power of making you feel that you were also part of that story since a single event, for instance, is told by three or four different people without necessarily overlapping but complementing each other. I recommend this book not only to any The Mamas and the Papas' fans but also to all those who are interested in the history of Rock and Roll of the late 60's.