I thought we’d take time for some “California Dreamin'” this Throwback Thursday to honor folk-rock legends The Mamas & The Papas! The Mamas & The Papas were a Canadian/American four-piece band consisting of Cass Elliott (AKA Mama Cass,) Michelle Phillips, John Phillips, and Danny Doherty. Briefly known as “The Magic Cyrcle,” the foursome saw a tumultuous career throughout the 1960’s and early 1970’s, but always managed to stay true to their sound with their chill-inducing harmonies and unique instrument tuning. Soon after formation, The Mamas & The Papas signed a five-year contract with Dunhill Records, releasing their first single “Go Where You Wanna Go,” in 1965 which failed to chart. However, their next single, “California Dreamin’,” was released later that year and peaked at #4 on the US charts.
“Dreamin'” got the ball rolling for the group, and their next album, “If You Can You Believe Your Eyes And Ears,” which was released in early 1966, shot to #1 on the Billboard 200, with the lead single, “Monday, Monday,” also going to #1. After the success of “Eyes And Ears,” the four members began fighting and dealing with infidelity scandals, ultimately beginning their downfall. The fighting came to a head at the Monterey International Pop Festival when it was reported that the group barely rehearsed and started relying on drugs and alcohol to ease their heartbreak. Before a complete breakdown, The Mamas & The Papas managed to get back on the US and UK charts with “Creeque Alley,” which showcased the bands stunning melodies and vocal stylings.
After an adventurous decade and one last album, “People Like Us,” was released in 1971 to no chart success, and the band went their separate ways to try their hand at solo careers. Mama Cass, with her powerhouse-pitch-perfect voice, saw solo success before dying of a heart attack in 1974. John Phillips worked with the likes of The Beach Boys (co-writing hits such as “Kokomo,”) and released solo albums before passing away from heart failure in 2001. Danny Doherty returned to his native Canada to host a children’s TV show, release numerous solo LPs, and produce a Mamas & Papas musical before dying of kidney failure in 2007. Michelle Phillips sang solo before turning to acting, appearing in movies like “Dillinger” and “Bloodline” and television shows such as “Hotel,” “Knots Landing,” and “Beverly Hills, 90210. She stays as the sole owner of “California Dreamin’,” and was a major contributor to the band’s PBS special.
The Mamas & The Papas legacy lives on to this day, with countless looking up to their perfect pitch and hypnotic harmonies. You can check out a live version of “California Dreamin'” below.