John Phillips Dies
by ANDREW BRIDGES
-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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
an intelligence to his lyrics but not to the point of highbrow," Goldberg said.
"It was something that everyone could relate to."
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
Phillips is survived by
his wife, three daughters, two sons and two stepdaughters.
were pending Sunday.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times