It is almost Valentine’s Day. Time to talk romance in the 1960s. One of the most iconic sounds from the 1960s was from an unusual group because they were not a rock band. They sang four-part harmony. And they had plenty of romantic drama within the group. In 1967, The Mamas and the Papas released, “Dedicated to the One I Love.” This was the first time Michelle Phillips sang the lead instead of Mama Cass Elliot. The song reached number 2 on the Billboard 100 chart:
Michelle arrived in San Francisco in 1961 as a 17-year-old. The story goes that she and a girlfriend got an apartment in North Beach, painted it lavender and hung out in the hungry i and Purple Onion with comedians Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory. Holly Michelle Gilliam (her real name) married John Phillips in 1962, helped form The Mamas and the Papas in 1965, and co-wrote their hits such as “California Dreamin’,” which was the first song recorded by the group in 1965.
The song that many call the anthem of the 1960s was written by John Phillips in 1967. Scott McKenzie sang “San Francisco” at the Monterey International Pop Festival, produced by John Phillips, in June of 1967. Here is McKenzie performing at the festival. See if you can identify some famous faces:
Romance got in the way of business. Michelle had an affair with Papa Denny Doherty while married to Phillips and performing with the group. Mama Cass Elliot was in love with Doherty but he never returned her affections. This turmoil led to the group breaking up in 1968.
The individuals continued to perform. Mama Cass Elliott had a solo career but sadly died of a heart attack while headlining concerts in London in 1974. Denny Doherty performed until his death of a bleeding disorder in 2007. John Phillips continued to write, record and perform music until his death of heart failure in 2001. The surviving member of the group is Michelle Phillips. She continued to sing and act. She married five times. On June 4 of 2015, she will turn 71 years old.