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General information  

  • Date of creation : 1965
  • Ending date : 1968

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  • Besetzung
  • Mamas & the Papas
  • The
  • Papas the & Mamas The

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The Mamas & the Papas (1965)

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  Summary  

The Mamas & the Papas (credited as The Mama's and the Papa's on the debut album cover and sometimes shortened to Mamas & Papas) were a Canadian/American vocal group of the 1960s . The group recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968 with a short reunion in 1971, releasing five albums and 11 Top 40 hit singles. They have sold nearly 40 million records worldwide.

Their signature sound was based on four-part male/female vocal harmonies arranged by John Phillips, the band's songwriter, who managed to "leave the folk music behind" and blend his writing with the new "beat" sound in an unprecedented mode.

  Biography  

 Formation
After the split-up of their two previous folk groups—The Mugwumps and The New Journeymen—bandmates Denny Doherty and John Phillips formed a new group, which included John's wife Michelle. The last member to join was Cass Elliot, though chief songwriter Phillips never wanted Elliot in the group as he was convinced that there was no way they could succeed in the music industry because of her size.

The band briefly moved to the United States Virgin Islands; after running out of money, Michelle Phillips gambled back enough for them to return to New York City.

After briefly being known as The Magic Cyrcle, the group found that they disliked the name. One night, the band watched the Hells Angels on a television talk show; one of their members said "Now hold on there, Hoss. Some people call our women cheap, but we just call them our Mamas." Cass stood up and said, "Yeah! I want to be a Mama!" Michelle joined Cass; they danced around, chanting "We're the Mamas! We're the Mamas!" After a couple of minutes of this, John and Denny looked at each other and shrugged. "The Papas?" From then, shortly after signing a five-album contract with Dunhill Records, they referred to themselves as The Mamas and The Papas.

  Early commercial success
The band's first single, "Go Where You Wanna Go", was released in 1965, failing to chart. However, the second single, "California Dreamin'", was released later in 1965 and quickly peaked at number 4 in the US, while in the UK, it peaked at number 23. The band's debut album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, was released in early 1966 and became the band's only number 1 album on the Billboard 200. The third and final single from their debut was "Monday, Monday", which became the band's only US number 1 hit. The song brought the band international success when it peaked at number 3 in the UK Singles Chart.

After it was discovered that Michelle Phillips and Doherty were having an affair, tension in the band erupted. Consulting their attorney, Abe Somer, as well as their label Dunhill Records, the band drafted a formal statement expelling Michelle from the group in June 1966 - in the midst of recording their second album, The Mamas & the Papas. At this point they hired a new singer to replace Michelle, Jill Gibson, girlfriend of their producer Lou Adler. Gibson was already a singer/songwriter who had performed on several Jan and Dean albums. Although Gibson was not known as a strong singer, she learned to sing Michelle's parts within three weeks while the band was in London. Who sang on the second album is a disputed point, and further confused by using Jill Gibson to dub over an unknown number of vocals on the second album. Gibson says she sang all but two songs. Rock Historian Greg Russo says studio records show Michelle had already recorded six songs for the second album with the group in April 1966, including the singles "I Saw Her Again" and "Words of Love." Gibson recorded with John, Cass and Denny in July and early August 1966. Michelle was asked to rejoin the group by the end of August and went right into the studio, and Gibson was let go and received an undisclosed payment for her part. Producer Lou Adler states in the book Go Where You Wanna Go that Gibson sang on "maybe six songs", but Michelle re-recorded them when she returned. In the same book, Michelle Phillips is quoted as saying that she does not know for sure who is singing on the second album, that she and Jill both recorded many of the same songs. Phillips says only Engineer Bones Howe and Producer Lou Adler know for sure who was on the final record.


The first single from the album, "I Saw Her Again" was about the affair. It peaked at number five in the US and number eleven in the UK. There is a false start at the final chorus of the song, which John Sebastian later mimicked on the Lovin' Spoonful song, "Darlin' Be Home Soon" (Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright" repeated the theme in 1980). Paul McCartney, however, was not impressed by the way the group came in too soon on the recording. "That has to be a mistake. Nobody's that clever," he told the group.

When the album was released afterwards, it peaked at number four in the US, continuing the band's success, but peaked at number 24 in the UK. "Words of Love" was released as the second single in the US and peaked at number five in the US. In the UK, it was released as a double A-side with "Dancing in the Street" and peaked at number 47. "Dancing in the Street" was released as the third and final single in the US and peaked at number 75.

  Deliver
The band then recorded its third album, Deliver. During this time Doherty was drinking heavily, trying to get over Michelle Phillips. As the closing act of the first Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967, the band performed dismally. John and Michelle Phillips and Lou Adler organized the festival, and according to interviews with the members of the group, they were all so caught up in the festival they never got around to rehearsing. That, combined with Doherty's last-minute arrival from Canada, resulted in the mediocre performance.

The first single from the album was "Look Through My Window", which peaked at number 24 in the US, but failed to chart in the UK. However, the second single, "Dedicated to the One I Love", gave the band a comeback, peaking at number two in both the US and the UK. That success helped the album peak at a strong number two in the US and number four in the UK. The third single "Creeque Alley" showcased the band's history before their success. It peaked at number five in the US and number nine in the UK. The fourth and final single, a cover of "My Girl", peaked at number fifteen in the US, but failed to chart in the UK.

Shortly afterward, a non-album single called "Glad to be Unhappy" was released and peaked at number 26 in the US, but failed to chart in the UK. Also that year, a song from the group's second album titled Dancing Bear was released as a single and peaked at number 51 in the US, but also failed to chart in the UK.

  First break-up and fourth album
The band then made their final television appearance together where they performed some of their most popular songs, on The Ed Sullivan Show in June 1967. During the ensuing conversation with Sullivan, they revealed that they would be taking a long vacation but would return. Because of this announcement, Dunhill released their first greatest hits album entitled Farewell to the First Golden Era volumes 1 and 2 featuring their early work.

Subsequently in October 1967, the group decided to take a trip to Europe to spark their creativity while recording their fourth album. While in England, Cass Elliot was talking to Mick Jagger at a party thrown by their record label Dunhill Records, and John made an insulting remark about her in front of the guests. Disgusted and humiliated, she stormed out of the party and quit the group. However, Cass was contractually bound for the band's next LP, and therefore appeared on The Papas & the Mamas, their fourth album.

The first single "12:30 " peaked at number 20 in the US, but failed to chart in the UK. The album was then released and was another commercial success in both the UK and US . After the second single, "Safe In My Garden" failed on the charts, only making it to number 53, their label released Elliot's solo song from the album, a cover of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and it ended up peaking at number twelve in the U.S. It also became their first single to chart in the UK after five failed singles, peaking at number eleven. It was their only single to ever chart higher in the UK than the U.S.

 Second break-up and final split
After the success of "Dream a Little Dream of Me", Elliot admitted she wanted to embark on a solo career. The fourth and final single from the band's fourth album was "For the Love of Ivy", which peaked at number 81 in the US and failed to chart in the UK. For the second time, their label released a single from their previous work. A song from their debut titled "Do You Wanna Dance" was released as a single, but failed to chart in the UK and peaked at number 76 in the U.S.

After the official breakup, John Phillips issued the country-flavored album The Wolf King of LA, featuring the minor hit single, "Mississippi", but it was not a commercial success. In the television special, Straight Shooter: The True Story of John Phillips and The Mamas and the Papas, other band members said that if they had recorded the material from that album, it might have been their best album and would certainly have been a hit.

In reviewing their contracts, their record company held that the band owed them one more album and threatened to sue each member of the band for US$250,000 for breach of contract. Subsequently in 1971, after about a year of John catching the other members as they passed through town, teaching them their parts and then overdubbing them on tape, the band released their final album People Like Us. The only single, "Step Out", peaked at number 81 in the US and failed to chart in the UK. With the failure of the lead single, the album failed to chart in the UK and became the first album of the band's not to chart in the top 20 on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 84.

After the failure, the band officially split, with each member embarking on solo careers.

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  Albums 

  Tracks  

Name Duration Released
Twelve Thirty 03:28 1998
Glad to Be Unhappy 01:45 1998
Dancing in the Street 03:50 1998
No Salt on Her Tail 02:43 1998
Words of Love 02:17 1998
Dancing Bear 04:12 1998
I Saw Her Again 03:15 1998
Safe in My Garden 03:15 1998
Step Out 03:03 11/1971
Shooting Star 02:54 11/1971
Snowqueen of Texas 02:37 11/1971
Pacific Coast Highway 03:04 11/1971
People Like Us 03:25 11/1971
Lady Genevieve 03:48 11/1971
Boys & Girls Together 03:15 02/1967
Look Through My Window 03:05 02/1967
Free Advice 03:15 02/1967
Twist and Shout 02:54 02/1967
Sing for Your Supper 02:46 02/1967
Creeque Alley 03:45 02/1967
Did You Ever Want to Cry 02:53 02/1967
Dedicated to the One I Love 02:56 02/1967
Frustration 02:50 02/1967
String Man 02:59 02/1967
Got a Feelin' 02:31 03/1966
You Baby 02:19 03/1966
Straight Shooter 03:27 03/1966
Hey Girl 02:27 03/1966
Monday, Monday 03:27 03/1966
Somebody Groovy 03:15 03/1966
Spanish Harlem (canción) 03:21 03/1966
California Dreamin' 02:41 03/1966
Go Where You Wanna Go 02:30 03/1966
Do You Wanna Dance? 02:57 03/1966
I Call Your Name 02:39 03/1966
The 'In' Crowd 03:10 03/1966

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "The Mamas & the Papas", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.