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Singer John Phillips was a member of the popular 1960s folk rock band The Mamas and the Papas, along with Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty and Michelle Phillips.
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Singer. Born John Edmund Andrew Phillips on August 30th 1935, in Parris Island, South Carolina. His father was a retired United States Marine Corps officer who struggled with alcohol addiction, leaving his mother and sister to raise him.
Phillips rebelled at an early age, and his music played a key role in his defiance. He and several mischievious high school friends formed a band together as The Del Ray Locals. Although the group didn't last long, Phillips left the band eager to create a unique musical sound. After trying his hand at the U.S. Naval Academy and as a basketball player at Hampden-Sydney college, he left formal education for good in the late 1950s and headed for New York.
It was in New York that Phillips met two other singers, Dick Weissman and Scott McKenzie. The three formed a folk group called The Journeymen. The group met with great sucess, creating three albums and even making several television appearances. But the group soon dissolved over creative differences, and Phillips used the opportunity to create a new group, The New Journeyman with his wife, aspiring model Michelle.
In 1965, Phillips and his wife traveled to the Virgin Islands to work on material for The New Journeymen. Friend Cass Elliot, a member of the band The Big Three, and Dennis Doherty, who previously performed with The Halifax Three, joined them there. The group turned into a quartet, named themselves The Mamas and the Papas, and landed a recording contract with Lou Adler's record label, Dunhill.
Working with Adler as their producer, The Mamas and the Papas went into the studio. Their first single was supposed to be "Go Where You Wanna Go," which John reportedly wrote in response to Michelle's affair with another man. Adler, however, decided that "California Dreamin'" was a better choice. The song took off, making it to the No. 4 spot on the pop charts in March of 1966. Music critics and fans were won over by its melancholy lyrics and lush sound.
The Mamas and the Papas scored their first No. 1 single in May with "Monday, Monday." While popular with listeners, the song was reportedly not a favorite among members of the group. John Phillips wrote it and lobbied for the group to record it. Overall, he was a strong creative force behind the scenes, writing or co-writing many of the band's songs.
Just as The Mamas and the Papas became popular, the group was nearly undone by tensions within the band. Complications arose when Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty had an affair. The experience became the inspiration for the song "I Saw Her Again," which John and Denny co-wrote.
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