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The Mamas & the Papas


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New York, United States (1965 – 1968, 1971 – 1972)

The Mamas & the Papas (credited as The Mama’s and the Papa’s on the debut album cover) were a leading of the from New York. The group recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968, releasing five albums and charting ten hit singles that hold up as well today as they did back in the sunshine era. While spending relatively a short time in the realm of popular music, some group members have pointed to their short time in the spotlight as a reason why they still have loyal fans today.

Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, and Michelle Phillips formed the group in New York after previous folk groups (The Mugwumps, The New Journeymen) failed. The foursome hit it big immediately after forming The Mamas & the Papas with “California Dreamin’”, still their most recognizable and enduring song (The group’s early history is amusingly chronicled in the song “Creeque Alley”).

The name of the band was inspired by a daytime television talk show. Before the group recorded their debut album If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears, the band was known for a short time as The Magic Circle. Wanting an easier name to remember, they were sitting around their house (which all four band members initially shared) brainstorming on a new name. Someone switched on the TV and a talk show was on with a Hells Angel. The first thing they heard was: “Now hold on there, Hoss. Some people call our women cheap, but we just call them our Mamas.” Cass jumped up and exclaimed, “Yeah! I want to be a Mama!” Michelle chimed in that she wanted to be a “Mama” too.


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