The Mamas and the Papas were an American folk rock vocal group formed in 1965 and performed until 1968. The group was a defining force in the music scene of the counterculture of the 1960s. The band was comprised of John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, and Michelle Phillips (born Holly Gilliam). Their unique sound was based on harmonic vocal arrangements by John Phillips, the songwriter, musician, and leader of the group who adapted folk to the new beat style of the early 1960s.
California Dreamin’ (Released 1965)
The song was written in 1963 while John Phillips and Michelle Phillips were living in New York City during an unusually cold winter. Michelle was missing sunny California. During this period, John and Michelle Phillips were members of the folk group the New Journeymen, which evolved into The Mamas and the Papas.
Monday, Monday (Released 1966)
This song was written by John Phillips and recorded by the Mamas and the Papas in 1966. Background instruments were played by members of The Wrecking Crew. This song was the group’s only #1 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and the first time this had been achieved by a recording act containing both genders.
I Saw Her Again (Released 1966)
Recorded in 1966 and co-written by band members John Phillips and Denny Doherty, this song peaked at number one on the RPM Canadian Singles Chart, number 11 on the UK Singles Chart, and number five on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart the week of July 30, 1966.
Dedicated To The One I Love (Released 1967)
This song, written by Lowman Pauling and Ralph Bass, became a hit for The “5” Royales, The Shirelles, and The Mamas and the Papas. The “5” Royales version was re-released in 1961 and charted at number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1967, The Mamas and the Papas released their more popular cover version on the Dunhill label, and it climbed to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The number 1 spot was taken by “Happy Together” by The Turtles.
Creeque Alley (Release 1967)
Creeque Alley is an autobiographical hit single written by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips in 1967, telling how the group was formed and its early years. The song peaked at #5 on the US Billboard pop singles chart the week of Memorial Day in 1967. It reached #9 on the UK charts and #4 on the Australian and Canadian charts.
The lyrics mention, directly or indirectly, many artists and bands who were part of the folk music scene at the time. Several locations significant to The Mamas and the Papas’ story are also mentioned. Michelle is referred to in the lyrics by her nickname “Michi” (“John and Michi were getting kind of itchy, just to leave the folk music behind”).
The song contains a repeated line that ends the first three verses, “No one’s getting fat, ‘cept Mama Cass,” a reference to the fact Elliot was making the most money, not to her life long battle with obesity. Cass Elliot thought it was hilarious. The final lyric line, “And California Dreamin’ is becoming a reality”, is a reference to their hit song “California Dreamin'”, and marks the point at which the group achieved its breakthrough, leaving behind the tough lifestyle described in the rest of the song.
Dream A Little Dream Of Me (Released 1968)
“Dream a Little Dream of Me” is a song from1931 written by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt with lyrics by Gus Kahn. It was first recorded in February 1931 by Ozzie Nelson. A popular standard, it has seen more than 60 other versions recorded. One of the highest chart ratings for this song was by The Mamas and the Papas in 1968 with Cass Elliot on lead vocals.
There was only one Mama Cass!
Cass Elliot (born Ellen Naomi Cohen; September 19, 1941 – July 29, 1974), also known as Mama Cass, was an American singer and actress best known for her time with the Mamas and the Papas. After the group broke up, she released five solo albums. In 1998, she was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her work with the Mamas and the Papas.
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