The Mamas and Papas produced music that, for some, was the epitome of high-class folk rock, a perfect merging of California beat and Greenwich Village melody. But despite their beginnings in the New York folk club scene of the early Sixties and their close association with the Lovin' Spoonful, the Mamas and Papas' musical style owed little to the American folk and blues tradition and was more a contrived product of shrewd pop thinking on the part of producer-manager Lou Adler.
His policy , was to match their sweet vocal sound with a rock backing and to market them in terms of their hippy image, which, though fairly common among solo performers, was almost unheard-of in groups. Most of the Mamas and Papas' material was written by leader John Phillips (born in Parris Island, South Carolina, on Aug. 30, 1941) and his wife Michelle (née Gilliam, born in California in 1944), who harmonized neatly with Cass Elliott (Alexandria, Virginia, Sept. 19, 1943) and Denny Doherty (Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1941). Their first hit was `California Dreamin' ' (Dunhill, 1966) which rivalled Scott McKenzie's 'San Francisco' as a popularizer of the flower-power philosophy.
A dozen more hits followed in the next two years, including 'Monday Monday', 'I Saw Her Again', `Creeque Alley' and a revival of 'Dedicated To The One I Love'. But the group did not progress and after a while their records began to sound pedestrian, too much like the Ray Conniff cover versions of their songs. In 1968, they finally split. Cass Elliott and Denny Doherty went solo, with vary-ing degrees of success. John made the intriguing solo album, The Wolfking of LA, then with Michelle joined the rock jet-set.