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Papa John Phillips: Age 65
March 18, 2001
Heart Failure

 papajohncig.jpg (13131 bytes)
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John Edmund Andrew Phillips
  OBITUARY
  BIOGRAPHY
  LINKS
  DISCOGRAPHY
  BOOKS:

The Mamas and the Papas Including the History of the Mamas and the Papas and 16 of Their Greatest Hits;
  mamasandpapasbook (13325 bytes)       creequealley (16802 bytes)GORDON'S CD PICK: Creeque Alley, Hilstory of The Mamas and The  Papas

 

OBITUARY


Singer/Songwriter John Phillips Dies

by ANDREW BRIDGES

     LOS ANGELES -Songwriter John Phillips, who as a member of the Mamas and the Papas penned "California Dreamin"' and other hits by the 1960s pop group, died Sunday morning. He was 65.

     Phillips died of heart failure at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, a spokesman for the hospital said.

     "His personality is going to be sorely missed," said Harvey Goldberg, a longtime friend and producer. "His music is going to be sorely missed."

     Phillips was the principal songwriter for the Mamas and the Papas, writing hits including "I Saw Her Again Last Night" and "Creeque Alley." In 1966, the band won a Grammy for best contemporary group performance for the single "Monday Monday."

     He also helped organize 1967's seminal Monterey Pop Festival, which introduced Jimi Hendrix and The Who to American audiences.

     Phillips also wrote for other groups, including the Grateful Dead, Beach Boys and Scott MacKenzie, who debuted his "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)" at Monterey.

     "Being a songwriter, and having had only one hit to John's many, I'm just a big songwriting fan, therefore I'm a big John Phillips fan," Beach Boys singer Bruce Johnston said Sunday. "He had a sweet voice, and he played guitar beautifully, and he'd play a song, just acoustically, and they'd be hits."

     The Mamas and the Papas broke new ground for having women and men in one group at a time when most pop bands were all-male or all-female. Phillips' second wife, Michelle Phillips, and another female vocalist, Cass Elliott, sang along with Phillips and Denny Doherty.

     The group's catchy folk-pop sound was a blend of the upbeat pop that prevailed in the mid-1960s and the folk music approach that gained popularity toward the end of the decade.

     The Mamas and the Papas disbanded in 1968 following John and Michelle Phillips' divorce. Phillips briefly reformed the band in 1982 with Doherty, daughter Mackenzie and Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane, and the foursome toured playing oldies and new Phillips originals.

     Several of Phillips' children have gone on to achieve fame of their own. Mackenzie Phillips starred in the sitcom "One Day at a Time" in the 1970s until she was fired in 1982 because of cocaine addiction. She had seven stints in rehab over the next decade before declaring herself drug-free.

     Another daughter, Chynna, was a member of the pop group Wilson Phillips with two daughters of Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson.

     A third daughter, Bijou, appeared at age 15 in a controversial 1995 advertising campaign for clothing designer Calvin Klein that featured teen models in provocative poses. She is an actress.

     Phillips was married four times: to Susan Phillips, mother of Jeffrey and Mackenzie; to Michelle Phillips, mother of Chynna; to Genevieve Waite, mother of Tamerlane and Bijou; and to his wife at the time of his death, Farnaz, to whom he'd been married for six years.

   Goldberg said that just before entering the hospital, Phillips had completed work on a solo album, tentatively titled "Slow Starter." An album he began work on 25 years ago with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards called "Pay, Pack and Follow" is set for release in May.

     Phillips was born John Edmund Andrew Phillips on Aug. 30, 1935, in Parris Island, S.C. In high school, he played in several bands. He later moved to New York City, where he formed The Journeymen.

    When Cass Elliot joined the group now known as the Mamas and the Papas, the band moved to Los Angeles, where they were signed in 1965.

    "They were really the American band that ended the British Invasion," Goldberg said.

     The Mamas and the Papas' debut single, "California Dreamin'," was released in 1966. "Monday, Monday" and a string of other hits soon followed until the band broke up in 1968. Three decades later, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

     "There was an intelligence to his lyrics but not to the point of highbrow," Goldberg said. "It was something that everyone could relate to."

     The songwriter received a liver transplant in 1992 after years of abusing alcohol and illegal drugs had taken its toll.

    "It's like having a new lease on life," Phillips said at the time of the transplant, which came six months after he stopped drinking. He had talked and written about his former drug addictions, saying he had weaned himself from drugs in a rehabilitation clinic after a 1980 arrest.

    Phillips is survived by his wife, three daughters, two sons and two stepdaughters.

    Funeral arrangements were pending Sunday.

Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times

 

John Phillips

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Songwriter John Phillips, who as a member of the Mamas and the Papas penned "California Dreamin'' and other hits by the 1960s pop group, died Sunday of heart failure. He was 65.

Phillips was the principal songwriter for the Mamas and the Papas, writing hits including "I Saw Her Again Last Night'' and "Creeque Alley.'' In 1966, the band won a Grammy for best contemporary group performance for the single "Monday Monday.''

The Mamas and the Papas' debut single, "California Dreamin','' was released in 1966. "Monday, Monday'' and a string of other hits soon followed until the band broke up in 1968. Two decades later, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Phillips helped organize 1967's seminal Monterey Pop Festival, which introduced Jimi Hendrix and The Who to American audiences. He also wrote for other groups, including the Grateful Dead, Beach Boys and Scott MacKenzie, who debuted his "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)'' at Monterey.

NY TIMES

John Phillips, a 'Papa' of the 1960's Group, Dies at 65

By NEIL STRAUSS

John Phillips, a songwriter and founding member of the 1960's folk- pop group the Mamas and the Papas, died yesterday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 65.

The cause was heart failure, his spokeswoman said.

The Mamas and the Papas were a band of lovers, spouses and friends, which proved to be both their greatest asset and their undoing. In 1966, with their first single, "California Dreamin'," the group epitomized sunny optimism and galvanized westward-bound youths at the dawn of the hippie era with strong harmonies and expectant lyrics, all slightly ringed with darkness.

Mr. Phillips was a man of many contradictions: idealist, hedonist, businessman, musician. Two years before Woodstock, he was a producer of the Monterey Pop Festival, which propelled Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and a new era of rock and youth culture into the American mainstream. As a songwriter, he wrote music for the Grateful Dead, the Beach Boys and Scott McKenzie.

Mr. Phillips was born in Parris Island, S.C., and as a teenager was a fan of harmonizing mixed-sex vocal groups like the Modernaires with Paula Kelly. In the late 50's he moved to New York, forming a folk trio, the Journeymen, that played Greenwich Village coffeehouses (alongside Bob Dylan, members of the Byrds and John Sebastian) and recorded for Capitol Records.

At one such coffeehouse, he met a model, Michelle Gilliam. The two fell in love, and Mr. Phillips divorced his wife and married the younger model. Soon, the couple met another folk singer, Dennis Doherty, and his friend Cass Elliot. As Mr. Phillips liked to tell it, the four took LSD together for the first time soon after they met, and it formed a bond between them. They moved to Los Angeles to seek success.

In 1965, they were discovered by the producer Lou Adler and signed to his label, Dunhill Records. Mr. Phillips wrote their first hit, the irrepressibly catchy "California Dreamin'," after a walk through Manhattan with his California-bred wife on a snowy day. It was soon followed by "Monday Monday," "I Saw Her Again" and "Creeque Alley," the band's oral history.

Mr. Phillips also wrote "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)," simultaneously a romanticized hippie paean and a G.I. homecoming song, for his former bandmate in the Journeymen, Scott McKenzie.

Though the Mamas and the Papas epitomized and help spread the hippie ethos, free love didn't help band harmony much when Ms. Phillips had an affair with Mr. Doherty. Ms. Phillips was fired from the band several times but went on to act in "Knots Landing" and other television shows. In 1968, the whole band broke up, then reunited in 1971 to fulfill contractual obligations with one album, "People Like Us." Ms. Elliot (better known as Mama Cass) died of a heart attack in 1974.

In his 1986 autobiography, "Papa John," Mr. Phillips chronicled his slide into drug addiction. In 1980, he was convicted of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and, after rehabilitation, reformed the group, which now included his daughter, Mackenzie. In the early 90's, his cumulative years of drug and alcohol abuse led to a liver transplant.

In 1998, the Mamas and the Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. More recently, Mr. Phillips was trying to reissue late 70's recordings he had made with members of the Rolling Stones and had completed a new solo album, "Slow Starter."

Mr. Phillips is survived by his wife, Farnaz; three daughters, Mackenzie, Chynna and Bijou; two sons, Jeffrey and Tamerlane; and two stepdaughters, Atoosa and Sanaz.

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BIOGRAPHY
Yahoo/Muze Inc.

b. 30 August 1935, Parris Island, South Carolina, USA.

Phillips began his recording career in 1960 as a member of pop singing group the Smoothies, but the following year formed the Journeymen with Scott McKenzie and Dick Weissman. This popular harmony folk act completed three albums marked by the artist's growing songwriting abilities.

He relaunched his old group as the New Journeymen with his wife Michelle Phillips and Marshall Brickman. His compositions were by now being recorded by the Kingston Trio, but as traditional folk began embracing elements of rock, so Phillips forged a more contemporary perspective, notably with the Mamas And The Papas.

Evocative songs, including 'California Dreamin'' (1965), 'Monday Monday' (1966) and 'Creeque Alley' (1967) helped established this act as one of the finest of its era, while Phillips also penned the anthemic 'San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)' for former colleague McKenzie. The artist drew contemporaneous plaudits as chief organizer of the Monterey Pop Festival, but internal disaffection led to the demise of his group in 1968.

In 1970 he completed John Phillips: The Wolfking Of LA, a superb set redolent of his erstwhile band but infused with C&W affectations, before completing an ill-fated Mamas And The Papas reunion album.

Phillips' recording career waned during the 70s. His third wife, Genevieve Waite, released one album, Romance Is On The Rise, which benefited considerably from Phillips' involvement. A solo single, 'Revolution On Vacation', appeared in 1976, but although he produced several tracks for former wife Michelle Phillips' Victim Of Romance, he fell increasingly under the influence of hard drugs. A projected solo album, with Keith Richard and Mick Jagger assisting, fell apart in a narcotic haze (although the results were finally released in 1998 on Phillips' own Paramour Records). An equally disastrous attempt at a Broadway musical, Man On The Moon, further dented Phillips' standing. Convicted of trafficking in narcotics in 1981, he entered a rehabilitation programme and, following his sentence, re-established the Mamas And The Papas as a touring attraction.

In 1989, Phillips joined McKenzie in composing 'Kokomo' which, with additional contributions by Mike Love and Terry Melcher, became a US number 1 hit for the Beach Boys.  By 1991 the Mamas And The Papas included Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Elaine 'Spanky' McFarlane and Laura McKenzie Phillips, and varying line-ups have continued touring under the name into the late 90s. Phillips' highly-successful autobiography provided a salutary overview of dashed 60s idealism and an extraordinary saga of Phillips' gigantic appetite for drugs. He is the father of Chynna Phillips from the multi-million selling group Wilson Phillips, and a track about John, written by his daughter is contained on Shadows And Light.

 

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Text of Interview with Scott McKenzie and John Phillips

Palm Springs Walk of Stars

 

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