John Edmund Andrew Phillips was born this day, August 30, 1935. Known as Papa John, he was a member and leader of the the singing group, The Mamas and the Papas, who had many hits in the mid 1960s, written primarily by John and his wife, Michelle, who was one of the Mamas. Their hits include “California Dreamin’,” “Monday, Monday,” “I Saw Her Again,” “Words of Love” and “Creeque Alley.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 12, 1998.
John was also instrumental in creating, promoting and playing at the very first rock festival, The Monterey International Pop Music Festival, in June, 1967, which was developed as a way to validate rock music as an art form in the way jazz and folk were regarded. It was undoubtedly an inspiration for the famous Woodstock Festival, held two years later in 1969.
John was good friends with Scott McKenzie, who died on August 18 of this year, ironically less than two weeks before the anniversary of John’s birthday. Scott was a “one hit wonder” whose claim to fame was a song called “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).” John Phillips actually wrote the song for Scott and played guitar on the recording.
After the original Mamas and Papas broke up, John and Scott reformed the group for a while in 1986 with Mike Love, of the Beach Boys, and Terry Melcher. Together they wrote the song Kokomo, which ended up being a hit for The Beach Boys.
Carnie and Wendy Wilson, daughters of Beach Boy, Brian Wilson, and Chynna Phillips, daughter of John and Michelle Phillips formed a group called Wilson Phillips that had several hits in the early 90s, including “Hold On,” “Release Me,” “Impulsive” and “You’re In Love.” They were featured, as themselves, in the hilarious 2011 film, Bridesmaids.
After his success with The Mamas and The Papas, John continued in many musical activities in America and England as both a solo artist and behind the scenes on many projects. He also lived the high life. After years of drug and alcohol abuse, rehab, four marriages and various high profile scandals, he died on March 18, 2001, just days after completing sessions for a new album, Phillips 66, which was released posthumously in August, 2001.