The Mamas & the Papas were an 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 100 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.
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 moved, briefly, 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 they disliked the name. From then, shortly after signing a five-album contract with Dunhill Records, they referred to themselves as The Mamas and The Papas.
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 kicking Michelle out of 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.
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.
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