The First Golden Era
Unlike most blogs, this one can and should be read from top to bottom. To see the majority of the blog, click on February 2007 archives and allow ample time to download all the pictures. However, don't miss the January 2007 archives. Your comments are welcome. Enjoy!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Alexandria, Virginia – where the Phillipses moved when John’s father was stationed at Quantico, Virginia, Marine facility. John was raised here and attended George Washington High School, where he was friends with Phil Blondheim, who later became better known as Scott McKenzie. The two would later join forces with Dick Weissman to form the folk group The Journeymen.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
Baltimore, Maryland – birthplace of Ellen Naomi Cohen (who grew up to become Cass Elliot) on September 19, 1941, daughter of Philip Cohen and Bess Levine Cohen. It is also the port of debarkation for her paternal grandparents, who emigrated from Russia several years before. Born to the spotlight, little Ellen performed "Don't Fence Me In" at the Hippodrome in Baltimore at the tender age of 4.
Alexandria, Virginia – Cass and family moved when she was young; the family lived there until halfway through Cass' high school career. The first half of her high school career was spent at George Washington High School in Alexandria, the same high school attended some years earlier by John Phillips and Scott McKenzie.
Baltimore, Maryland – Philip Cohen moved his family back to their original American roots in Baltimore when Cass was in the middle of her high school years. She attended Forest Park High School and graduated in class of '61, along with several other classmates who would go on to have success in the entertainment field, including Ken Waissman and Maxine Fox, who would later write "Grease", which was based on life at Forest Park High School.
Greenwich Village, New York City – The place to be in the early sixties -- folk rock is king, John and Michelle meet Denny, who later introduces them to his good friend Cass Elliott, and John writes “California Dreamin’” and several other songs that would someday become part of the ultimate Mamas and Papas songbook.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
St. John, Virgin Islands – where John, Michelle and Denny and a whole entourage of their friends and other family members (including John's daughter Laura MacKenzie Phillips) decided to vacation in 1965, and Cass followed some time later after the break-up of her current band. They all camped on the beach for awhile before they ran out of money and had to find work and other digs.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands – Creeque Alley (pronounced “Creaky” and really spelled “Creque”) – where they met up with boarding-house owner Duffy, and, calling themselves "The New Journeymen", Denny, Michelle and John got a job as the house band while Cass waited tables after they talked Duffy into turning his boarding house into a bar. Cass sang along with them from the restaurant floor, and over time, they blended their voices perfectly. When time ran out on their trip to paradise, they all made a hasty exit in the middle of the night and got out of the Virgin Islands just ahead of several creditors.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
San Juan, Puerto Rico -- After leaving the Virgin Islands, Michelle, John and Denny were only able to get as far as San Juan on their limited resources. With only $150 between them, Michelle decided to risk it at a casino, whereupon she made thirteen (or seventeen or eighteen, depending on whose account you believe) straight passes with the dice, which got them more than enough money to get back to the States.
New York City – John, Michelle and Denny arrived back in their old stomping grounds to find it a virtual ghost town, at least musically. While they had been in the Caribbean, the entire rock and folk music scene moved to California. Even Cass had gone west. The clock in this postcard doesn't always say twelve-thirty -- just twice a day, most times.
Tijuana, Mexico – Soon after signing with Dunhill, the group took a vacation, and while they were in Tijuana, Denny confessed to Cass that he and Michelle had been indulging in a flirtation that had come to fruition – but alas, only once, as it were. One indulgence, however large or small, and it changed the dynamics of the group forever. It would seem that everything was over before it even began.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Monterey, California -- site of the first pop festival. Lou Adler and John Phillips became the organizers of what ultimately became a charity festival and resulted in the formation of the Monterey Festival Foundation, a foundation that still exists today. All the performers save for one (Ravi Shankar) performed for free -- Ravi had already signed a contract and held the organizers to it. This would be the forerunner of Woodstock and others like it.
San Francisco – If you're going, be sure to wear flowers in your hair. To reassure the local officials in Monterey, John wrote the song as the anthem for the Monterey Pop Festival, admonishing the youth to come in peace; his high school buddy and former bandmate with the Journeymen, Scott McKenzie, sang it, and it became a smash hit. It also gave rise to the labeling of baby boomers as Flower Children and spawned the term "flower power". The vast migration of young people to the San Francisco area that summer resulted in what became known as the Summer of Love. Scott and John would remain friends all of their lives.
Los Angeles, California – John and Michelle’s daughter Chynna was born in February 1968; John and Michelle divorced and the Mamas and Papas broke up, retreated to their separate corners to reconstruct their lives and careers separate from each other, although unbeknownst to them, they were contractually obligated to record another album or two in the next two years.
The Paladium in London – Cass was performing a two-week one-woman show here when she died. She was playing to sold-out audiences, rave reviews and standing ovations, and those around her said she was the happiest she’d ever been in her life. Once started, the rumor of her death being caused by her choking on a ham sandwich persists unabated, despite the fact that her death was actually caused by a heart attack. As recently as February 2007, TVLand's "Myths and Legends" debunked the rumor yet again.