Saturday, April 16, 2016

SWEET 16 - What's The Name Of That Song???

I can't even imagine how many people must have walked into their favorite record store back in the day, trying to buy that hot new record they heard on the radio, "I Love The Flower Girl" only to be disappointed because they couldn't find the record on the shelf.

Or how about "They'll Stone You"?  "Don't You Worry 'Bout Me"?  "Feelin' Groovy"?  Or that timeless hit "Stop Children What's That Sound?"  Almost a reverse psychology I guess with some of these ... how to get people NOT to buy your record ... simply by confusing the hell out of them!

Today, as part of our latest SWEET 16 feature, Forgotten Hits salutes those GREAT songs that confused the heck out of the record buying public because the TITLE of the song never appears anywhere in the lyrics!!!

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Friday Flash

The Mamas and the Papas  
I enjoyed reading the Mamas and Papas story again this morning. 
Jim Hendricks, an original member of The Big Three and The Mugwumps, lives nearby and we always talk about him when we pass his house on Cages Bend Road. He wrote "Summer Rain" for Johnny Rivers, and also "Long, Lonesome Highway" for Michael Parks. It's no surprise that Johnny Rivers was an original investor in The Monterey International Pop Festival, considering his close friendship with John Phillips and gang. 
David Lewis   

Hi Kent -
Great reading your "Revisited Mamas and the Papas" again!!
They were in my Top Ten of favorite groups. Too bad they only lasted a couple of years.
By the way, how did they get their name? I think that was part of their success.
When in doubt, ask the master!
As is usually the case, the road to becoming The Mamas and the Papas made several stops (and pairings) along the way.
John Phillips first scored success with The Journeymen, which also included Scott McKenzie who would record John's "Summer of Love" / Flower Power anthem "San Francisco".  Although primarily a trio (the missing third was Dick Weissmann), his second wife Michelle would also sing with the group from time to time.  Meanwhile Mama Cass was singing with a group called The Big Three while Denny Doherty was one of The Halifax Three.  All of these groups worked in the early-to-mid '60', playing the folk rock circuit, a very popular musical trend at that time.
Denny and Cass first met when they both joined The Mugwumps, a group that also included John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, who would go on to form The Lovin' Spoonful.  (Again, listen closely to the lyrics of The Mamas and the Papas' big autobiographical hit "Creeque Alley" and you'll hear this whole thing play out in about three minutes!  lol)
After leaving The Mugwumps, Denny teamed with John and Michelle to perform as The New Journeymen, more so to fulfill contractual obligations after the original group had already split up.  In 1965, they maxed out their American Express Card (also part of the "Creeque Alley" lyric) and took off for the Virgin Islands to work on new material.  It was around this time that John Phillips discovered The Beatles (thanks to some prodding by Denny who, after playing him a Beatles album, told John "Write songs like this."
Cass Elliott (who had a longtime crush on Denny) joined the trio and fought for a spot in the group ... but John was reluctant to let her in because she went "against type" and the image he was shooting for.  There was no denying the magical blend of their voices, however ... in fact an early incarnation of John, Michelle, Cass and Denny was called "The Magic Circle" and, after their first recording session for Dunhill, they toyed around with the idea of keeping that name for their first record release.
After working up some new tunes in The Virgin Islands (including "California Dreamin'", "Go Where You Wanna Go" and "Monday Monday") they relocated to Los Angeles to try and make it in the heart of the music scene.  (Their friends The Byrds and The Lovin' Spoonful were now hitting the charts and they felt that THEY should be able to do so, too.)  In the end, it was the blend of their unique voices (and the fact that this "sound" was created by two guys and two girls) that prompted them to rename themselves "The Mamas and the Papas" ... and the rest, as they say, was history.  (It has also been suggested that the inspiration came from The Hell's Angels, the infamous bikers group who referred to their ladies as their "mamas" ... and there just may be a fair amount of truth to that!)  Their first release (and most of the early promotional material put out to announce the band) listed them as The Mama's and the Papa's ... but the apostrophes were soon deleted and they remained The Mamas and the Papas from that point forward. 
John Phillips not only wrote all their big hits but The Mamas and the Papas were also very successful covering (and rearranging) several other pop tunes like The Beatles' "I Call Your Name", the Motown Hit "Dancing In The Street", The Shirelles' hit "Dedicated To The One I Love", a very slowed-down version of "Do You Wanna Dance" and several others like "My Girl" and "You Baby".
When all was said and done, the whole wild ride lasted just over two years ... yet their music lives on forever.  (kk)

Have any stock copies of Go Where You Wanna Go ever turned up? I've only ever heard of promotional copies being issued, along with a picture sleeve, and both of those sell for hundreds of dollars because so few of them exist.  If you want to have a great collection by the group featuring all of their original single mixes as well as the ABC solo sides by the group members, all in their original single mixes, I highly recommend this collection from Real Gone Music:
They really outdid themselves with this one.
-- Tom Diehl
Despite owning their complete collection through various means and compilations, I went out and bought "The Complete Singles Collection" anyway, just to have all of the singles, in their original mono mixes, in one place.  (Dunhill notoriously issued single edits, in some cases drastically different versions and mixes, all the time.  It was infuriating to hear the song on the radio, commit it to memory and then pick up the album and have it sound completely different that what had been etched in your mind, whether it was a change in the orchestral backing or even something as subtle as the line "becoming a reality" being edited out of "Creeque Alley" at the end.)
I don't know if "stock" copies of "Go Where You Wanna Go" existed ... there seems to be a lot of debate on this issue.  Even finding a rare promo copy is virtually impossible.  The catalog numbers for this single and "California Dreamin'" were only two digits apart ... 4018 to 4020 ... so it wasn't out on the market for very long.  It very well may have been sent to radio stations only to see if they could get a buzz going on this brand new group.  It failed but the follow-up piece was SO drastically different, it demanded your full attention the very first time it came on.  (Here in Chicago "California Dreamin'" was ranked as the #1 Single of 1966 on WCFL, topping their chart for four weeks ... as well as spending another three weeks at #2!)  Meanwhile "Go Where You Wanna Go" became the first big hit for The Fifth Dimension a year later ... yet, despite this fact, today you are FAR more likely to hear The Mamas and the Papas' version (if it's played on the radio at all.)  kk

Hey Kent, 
Thanks for all the interesting info on the Mamas and the Papas in Wednesday's FH, and for putting to rest what I always suspected about "I Saw Her Again".
When I heard the song for the very first time, I just knew Denny came in early with "I saw her ... " and the strings basically covered the mistake. I did like the finished product, though.
Another song I'm thinking turned out the same way is Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright". Just past two minutes into the song, he sings, "I'm ... I'm alright". I like the way it ended up, too, but what do YOU think?
- John LaPuzza
Wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that that was a mistake ... then again, maybe he was just trying to recreate the effect of The Mamas and the Papas record!  Either way, I agree ... a GREAT song and a GREAT break that sets up the next chorus.  ALWAYS one of my favorites!  (kk)

I saw The Mamas and the Papas at the Palomino in 1988 with Scott McKenzie replacing Denny Doherty, Spanky McFarlane replacing Mama Cass and MacKenzie Phillips replacing Michelle. It was a very good show, including Scott's big hit and a couple of Spanky's. Michelle joined them on the closing song. 
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem
I got to see them twice in the latter stages of their career.  For the first show (an outdoor Italian Festival type deal held in the parking lot of a shopping center!) the group featured Scott McKenzie (subbing for John Phillips), Denny Doherty (who still sounded great), Spanky McFarlane (covering for Mama Cass) and an unknown fourth who sang Michelle's old background harmonies.
The second show was WAY classier, held at The Drury Lane Theater in Oak Brook, featured John Phillips back on guitar and vocals (he did a "new" solo number that night that I have been searching for for over thirty years ... I don't think it was ever officially released but he was in GREAT voice that night and this song obviously had a big impact on me), Denny Doherty, Spanky McFarlane and MacKenzie Phillips ... pretty much a killer line-up for what was probably the early '80's.  I've never seen Michelle or Cass ... SO hard to believe that Michelle is the only one left.  I can still listen to ALL of their music to this day and never get tired of it ... certainly among my all-time favorites, too.  (kk)

Although I put a lot of research into the 1997 3 CD box set THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS: THEIR GREATEST HITS AND FINEST PERFORMANCES, your piece in Forgotten Hits included details even I did not know.  
I remember attending Cass' funeral, seeing John and Michelle exit the church wrapped in each others arms and hearing one Mama Cass hit after another featured on L.A.'s Top 40 radio stations.  It's sad that those very stations -- which played "Make Your Own Kind of Music," "It's Getting Better," "New World Coming" and "Dream a  Little Dream of Me" so many times -- wouldn't even consider airing one of those tracks today -- despite the fact that they sound better than anything they are running currently.  
My 3 CD box set, which is now out of print (even though copies turn up on eBay and amazon from time to time), included not just all the hits but virtually everything the group recorded for Dunhill -- which wasn't really all that much.  I reserved the third CD for the quartet's solo work, leaning heavily on Cass' output as she was the most prolific and successful of the group members as a soloist.  
Michelle was a problem on that solo disc as her solo A&M singles weren't all that great.  I represented Michelle then with some of her rare lead vocals with the group.  That disc allowed me to reissue John's terrific "Mississippi" but I was hard pressed to find anything else on his solo "Wolf King of L.A." album even one tenth as good. It appears that, except for "Mississippi," John was simply too strung out during the production of that LP to even approach his former level of creative quality.  I wound up including "Pacific Coast Highway" as John's other solo track as it was the best of his other solo album cuts.  
One would have thought that Denny, as the Mamas & Papas' usual lead singer, could have gone on to great solo success, but he didn't.  I represented Denny's solo work with two obscure cuts from his equally obscure solo album.   It's really Cass who shines on that third disc with not only all her solo hits but her best solo LP tracks, some of which were tunes made famous by other artists ("Easy Come, Easy Go," etc.)  
Your Forgotten Hits piece mentions The Mamas & Papas' only live release: their Monterey Pop Festival performance, which was, indeed, a huge disappointment.  Rather than include any of that, I licensed a sampling of soundtrack clips from the group's "Ed Sullivan Show" appearances.  Now THOSE were very good!  
Gary Theroux

Wow, thanks, Gary ... coming from you that means a lot.  Denny did some solo work under the production of FH Member John Madara after the group split but you're right, he never really made much of an impact on his own.
Cass' solo hits were great ... thanks to Me-TV-FM, we get to hear quite a few of them again.  (My personal favorites will always be "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" and "Make Your Own Kind Of Music".  I don't know if you watched that show "Lost" but the first time we ever saw the inside of the infamous hatch we caught Desmond playing Cass' "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" and I will ALWAYS associate that song with that scene from that day forward.
I've searched high and low for both the John Phillips song I heard at the concert mentioned above as well as Michelle's versions of "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "Me And Bobby McGee."  We'll never know just how big of a solo career she might have had, had she been able to release these tracks as singles ... especially since today she is pretty much perceived as just "beautiful, meek-voiced Michelle", making little in the way of a contribution to the group's overall sound.  (With voices as powerful as Cass' and Denny's, it had to be hard to compete ... and with Papa John writing all the hits, Michelle seemed to be the only one who didn't fill a necessary niche ... other than "just stand there and look beautiful"!!!  (kk)

Jan and Dean  
Thanks for posting that link to my book.  Here's a better link, where the price seems to be more reasonable, if you want to substitute it:
Thank you for honoring Jan.  We who knew and traveled with him think about him all the time.
Bob Greene   

>>>For any who never heard the original version of Jan & Dean’s “Popsicle”, it was by The Todds on the Todd label from 1962. It may be on you tube.   (Ken)
>>>Not sure if this is it or not because in one place it's identified as "The Todds" and in another as "Gene and the Pearls"!   (kk)
Not only did The Todds record Popsicle first (and your youtube link IS the correct version, by the way), the group also recorded the song Tennessee first. Tennessee would become Jan and Dean's second single for Liberty. Both tracks were written by Buzz Cason and Bobby Russell, who were members of The Todds along with Bergen White. 
Tom Diehl

Sound like Jan and Dean were doing a fair amount of listening to The Todds themselves!!! (lol)  kk

I couldn't help but wonder ... is this the same Bobby Russell as the FAMOUS Bobby Russell?  (Honey, 1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero, married to Vicki Lawrence Bobby Russell???)
Yessir. He and Buzz Cason and Bergen White worked together a lot over the years. Tomorrow I'll try to remember to send you some other tracks Bobby and Bergen did together.  You should try to contact Bergen for comments too ... I know he is fairly active on Facebook. Buzz Cason could probably be reached for comment as well.  Check out these 34 pages of records Bergen worked on, and tell me info on some of these wouldn't make for a good interview.

I did a show with Jan and Dean back around 1980. It was weird, because Jan was almost a total vegetable backstage, but once he got onstage, he automatically went right into his act and sounded great. Then, when they finished and he came backstage, he was totally out of it again.
Dean Milano
I get the feeling that he was almost "programmed" to perform because they knew there was a limited window of opportunity for him to be focused on the task at hand.  The fact that this material was so familiar to him probably helped. 
If you haven't read Bob Greene's book "When We Get To Surf City", do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.  A GREAT read and a VERY touching account of the whole Jan and Dean "comeback" scene.  (Hey, use the discounted link provided by Bob himself above!)  kk

In 1996 we played an event for the Rancho Los Amigos rehab facility and Jan Berry was there.
He had apparently been getting regular therapy there.
Gary E. Myers / MusicGem

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
Lots of Chicago talent last night:  Cheap Trick, Chicago, Steve Miller.  Kudos to the city of music!
Clark Besch
Great Hall of Fame review by Ron Onesti - I saw Danny's acceptance speech on your site the following day and you could tell he was truly touched to have been included - and misses his former bandmates.
Danny's speech was especially emotional, sincere and heartfelt ... it shows just how blessed he truly feels to have had the career he's had ... how sad that somebody like Peter Cetera doesn't seem to appreciate any of it ... this is the connection that got him where he is today ... and has allowed him to spend his entire career entertaining the world with his incredible music.  Set it aside for a night, dude ... and enjoy and celebrate the magic.  (kk)
Hey Kent, 
First of all, I agree with 100% of what you say about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selection process. I read Ron Onesti's review of the induction ceremony, and it sounded like a good time for all, especially when Danny Saraphine got to rejoin Chicago. I've always been hoping that water could flow under the bridge and that somehow he could get back in the band.  
I was a jazz drummer most of my teenage years and early twenties, so rock bands with horn sections were very appealing to me. There were several out there that put a dent in pop music. The ones that come to mind are Chase, Tower of Power, Ides of March, Dreams, and Lighthouse, but there were only two that achieved super stardom, namely, Chicago and Blood, Sweat, & Tears. Now that Chicago has made it into the Hall, I sincerely hope that SOMEDAY, B,S&T will be considered for the honor. 
- John LaPuzza
I agree that both of these groups belong in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... but cannot help but wonder (due to the way the organization continues to "pick and choose" which members are actually being inducted) that if it ever comes to this, if founding member (and the guy who came up with the whole horn-rock concept in the first place) Al Kooper will be included.  He was famously fired from his own band after the release of their first album.  The group then inserted lead vocalist David Clayton Thomas and that's what turned on the hit-making machine.  We've talked to Al about this several times before in Forgotten Hits ... and, while he feels he'd most likely be excluded (in much the same way that he's never mentioned in conjunction with discovering and first producing Lynyrd Skynyrd all these years later) he should, at the VERY least, be inducted for all his "sideman" duties over the years.  ("Like A Rolling Stone" anyone???)  kk
The Buckinghams
I really appreciate your help.  ForgottenHits60s ... a fantastic blog!
Bill Hofstetter
Nashville, TN
Kent -
Saw The Buckinhams videos on your site! We have all those videos on my FB page: "
Would you pass this on to your readers?
Hope to see you May 1st in Skokie for the Cornerstones of Rock Show!!!! It would be great to see you man! Be well.
Best to you and Frannie :)
PS I still can’t find The Dating Game and The Midnight Special with Tufano and Giammarese!
Well, let's put the word out on those two ... maybe some of the readers can help.
Hoping to make the Skokie show ... plus I've never been to this venue.  Hope to see you and all the guys there!  (kk)
By the way, DJ Rockin' John and Forgotten Hits Reader Joanie Baker will be interviewing Dennis Tufano this Saturday night at 6 pm Chicago time ... here's  "Listen Live" link.  The show will also be archived for those (like me) who won't be around to hear it the first time it airs.  (kk)
Click on Saturday, 6 pm CDT.
This And That
Frankie Valli meets Bob Dylan.
When I bought this 45, you had to connect the dots on the record sleeve ... if you couldn't figure out who was singing.
Frank B.
Yeah, and in all my years of record collecting and mail order record sales it was virtually IMPOSSIBLE to find a clean one that hadn't been written on or "connected"!  (lol)  kk
Monkee MICKY DOLENZ was interviewed last week at Sirius / XM by Bruce Morrow. Dolenz talked about the new Monkees album, "Good Times", out in June on Rhino and their 50th Anniversary tour beginning next month.
I got an announcement from Amazon earlier this week that the new Monkees LP has been moved up in the schedule ... so I'm guessing all issues have now been resolved regarding the track line-up.  Sounds like a really fun LP.  (kk)
>>>Speaking of commercials which run in the background songs from days gone by, last night here on television I saw one for the first time. Can't remember the  product or whether it was a local or national commercial, but the song in the background was WORRIED MAN but it wasn't the Kingston Trio singing it.  (Larry)
Larry might be referring to this Pitney Bowes spot:
– Randy Price
It sounds like the long-running court dispute over copyright infringement on the Led Zeppelin classic "Stairway To Heaven" is back on again.  (We've run several clips in the past showing the Spirit tune written by Randy California that sounds suspiciously similar to the FM Classic Rock staple.) 
Led Zeppelin has been found guilty a few times in the past of putting their name on material that they "borrowed" from other artists, most notably blues artists and tracks like "Whole Lotta Love".  I guess they've just made so much money off this music that a little kick-back after all these years seems somewhat insignificant ... but it's still wrong!  (kk)
Record Store Day
Looks familiar ... but what are those things on the bottom shelf???
Bill Hengels
submitted by Stu Weiss
Record Store Day is tomorrow
This Weekend In Forgotten Hits
Also tomorrow is our latest SWEET 16 FEATURE ... don't miss it!  (This is another "traveling weekend" for us so I'll try to send a reminder out before we leave ... and there will be no Sunday Comments this week. Be sure to check out our brand new SWEET 16 ... a fun little feature called WHAT'S THE NAME OF THAT SONG???)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The 2016 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

As promised, here is Ron Onesti's recap of his own personal experience at this year's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.

The full piece will appear in tomorrow's edition of The Daily Herald where Ron has a regular column (see link below) ...

But Forgotten Hits Readers get to read it FIRST right here!!!  

Rock Hall Induction … A report from Brooklyn   

CHICAGO and Cheap Trick bring Rock and Roll pride to Illinois

As it is every year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class is a hot topic of discussion that usually goes in either or both of two directions.  The debate gets heated when the conversation becomes more about who is NOT in the hall, rather than who is.  Those musical greats who have not yet been inducted are discussed, defended and fought over reminiscent of those “My dad is bigger than your dad” days in the school playground.   

For me, I take it for what it’s worth.  I am happy for those who ARE selected, and do not spend much time complaining about who is not.  I thoroughly enjoy my time when I go to Cleveland to visit the Rock Hall, and there are plenty of inductees I am happy for.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many groups I can plead a case for, and I could justify their place of honor as much or more than many current inductees.  But really, in the end, it’s all entertainment, not very scientific, and like life, a bit unfair.  

If you have read my column before, you may remember last year’s report from Cleveland as I attended The 30th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies (if you haven’t, go to and look it up, it was a VERY cool night).  I recently attended this year’s edition, and it was a very special evening.  It was a quite emotional and long awaited induction of three bands in particular that I not only have had the privilege of working with, but also have been blessed by their friendship over the years.   

CHICAGO, Cheap Trick and Deep Purple were honored this year, along with Steve Miller and N.W.A.   

Of the thirty-one past induction ceremonies, only four have been held in the Hall’s home town of Cleveland.  The others, as it was this year, have been held in New York City, except for twice in Los Angeles.  This edition was held at The Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, and not at the semi-usual location of Madison Square Garden.

Lars Ulrich, the famed drummer from the metal - supergroup Metallica was the first to welcome the eighteen-plus thousand in attendance.  His job was to induct English heavy metal band Deep Purple.  Taking full advantage of his opening spot, he spent all of twenty minutes outlining all the reasons why Deep Purple was to be awarded this coveted honor.  He saluted keyboardist Jon Lord, who passed away in 2013.  I really appreciated the fact that Ulrich congratulated all fourteen members of the band that circulated through the band over the years.

Purple pioneers Ian Pace, Ian Gillian, Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale all were there; however Hughes and Coverdale were not invited to perform the three-song medley at the event.  And Ritchie Blackmore, the controversial guitarist who came up with that famous “Smoke On The Water” riff, did not attend due to differences with the band.  

Blackmore not being there was a real shame, I thought.  If you were a child of seventies’ rock, the first lick you learned was that opening riff of “Smoke On The Water”.  I was in sixth grade when the air guitar was born for me, and that was the song that birthed it!  And when the band played “Smoke” after another megahit, “Hush”, I found my air guitar skills were thoroughly still intact.

Steve Miller was next up.  I have never met the man, outside of being in the audience with him at another awards ceremony for an organization I sit on the board for, Little Kids Rock.  I was interested to hear him speak and try to find out what kind of guy he is.  I was excited because the very first 45 rpm record I bought with “my own” money, was “The Joker” by the Steve Miller band.

I found out a few things I didn’t know about him, such as the fact that he was from Milwaukee, grew up musically in San Francisco with Boz Scaggs, played the famed Fillmore club one hundred and twenty nine times, came to Chicago to learn the blues (the band was actually named ‘The Steve Miller Blues Band’ until it was shortened for simplicity), and that guitar pioneer Les Paul was his godfather and taught him his first chord when little Steve was only five years old!  He seemed humble and laid back, as he challenged the Rock Hall to honor more women and to bring more music to schools.

After the show, however, he strongly criticized the Hall for its poor treatment of the performers, saying that he just did it so as not to disappoint the fans.  “They gave me two tickets, for me and my wife.  When I asked the about my band and their wives, the said it would be ten thousand dollars apiece. I was furious,” Miller said.

But man, when his distinctive voice and somewhat poetically distorted guitar belted out “Fly Like An Eagle” “Rock’n Me” and “The Joker”, the place went crazy!  It was interesting to note that “The Steve Miller Band” was nominated as a solo act rather that an entire band, and that his Greatest Hits album sold over thirteen million copies, more than The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album.

Next up, definitely a controversial selection, hip-hop heavies, N.W.A.  Rap superstars Ice Cube and Dr. Dre (the first certified billionaire rap artist) led the group on stage, recalling those formative years in Compton, a city plagued with crime near Los Angeles.  Their messages and music were in response to the excessive gang violence and alleged police brutality of the eighties, and reflected the racial strife of the time.

They acknowledged the presence of diversity within the Rock Hall, and encouraged more.  Ice Cube sent out a message to KISS band member Gene Simmons who was quoted as saying, “Rap doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.  It’s not rock.”  “Rock and Roll isn’t a specific genre,” Cube said.  “It is a spirit, a combination of all forms of music.”  In subsequent interviews, Simmons begged to differ.
Sheryl Crow then performed an acoustic rendition of the Eagles’ classic “New Kid In Town”, remembering Glenn Frey, the Eagle who had recently passed away.  It was a serene moment.

“Matchbox Twenty” frontman Rob Thomas had the honor of inducting CHICAGO which was for me, the moment of the night.  CHICAGO was MY band.  It was the first band that I really got into, listening and learning every cut on every album, from seventh grade until today.  “Their first three albums were DOUBLE albums, and they had the guts to name themselves after a city that was the center of the Blues, and Rhythm & Blues.  That takes guts,” Thomas said.

Actually the moment started earlier that day for me.  Original drummer, Danny Seraphine, asked me if I was available to join him and his family for breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria.  What a cool thing to do!  Danny and I have been close friends for a long time, and he was one of the main reasons why I attended the ceremonies.  You see, he was excused from the band over twenty-five years ago, citing irreconcilable differences.  When the band welcomed Danny to be a part of the ceremonies, he became very emotional.

Five of the seven original members were in attendance.  Rob Thomas and the band itself acknowledged guitarist and vocalist Terry Kath, who died of a gun accident in 1978.  Kath’s daughter Michelle was on stage with the guys, another classy move.  The other band member conspicuous by his absence was former high-pitched lead singer, Peter Cetera.  Band differences kept him from attending, another heart breaking moment of the evening.

It was nice to hear sax player Walt Parazaider thank veteran Chicago disc jockey Dick Biondi, and also credited Doc Severinson, the former “Tonight Show” band leader for helping to keep the band together after Kath’s tragic death.  Jimmy Pankow thanked the Hall for “Welcoming them into their home”, and Lee Loughnane thanked his three ex-wives for “Making it necessary for him to keep working!”

All the guys got to say a few words, but when Danny took the mic, he was not short on emotion, or on expletives, for that matter.  “I’ve been waiting twenty-five years to play with my band,” said a choked-up Seraphine.  After a long acceptance speech, the monitors started saying “wrap it up”.  Danny hoisted the trophy above his head and proclaimed, “Screw you, I have been waiting too long for this moment!’  (I THINK he said, “Screw you”.)  

I was so happy for him.  I knew how important this was for him, and I wouldn’t have missed being there for the world.  It was incredibly cool to be on “the inside” of that whole emotional rollercoaster.  The band then played “Saturday In The Park” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” and “25 or 6 to 4”.  It was magical as I ripped a vocal chord or two.

Certified southern rock star Kid Rock then took the stage to induct the boys from Rockford, Illinois, CHEAP TRICK.  He described the band as “A garage band with punk, soul, a pop heartbeat and Beatles ambitions.”  It was fabulous to see all four original members together, probably for the last time, as drummer Bun E. Carlos has been out of the band for a few years now, with legal battles coming in between him and his childhood friends.

Vocalist Robin Zander, another good friend of The Arcada, entered the stage in a white zoot-suit and big hat, and Tom Petersson did nothing but grin while speaking about his organization benefiting autism.  Guitarist Rick Nielsen, in his own animated fashion, presented Steve MILLER with a guitar shaped like a MILLER BEER logo.  “I’ve been waiting years to give this to you,” He said.

They commenced with the final set of the night, aptly so because their songs “I Want You To Want Me”, “Dream Police” and “Surrender” literally brought down the house.
David Lettermen Show alum Paul Shaffer led the finale, as he does almost annually.  All the inductees, except N.W.A. (never really found out why they didn’t perform at all) came back on stage for the final number. As happy of an occasion the ceremonies were for all in attendance, I thought it was ironic that the finale was Trick’s hit, “Ain’t That A Shame”.  Maybe it was a subtle message regarding the absence of band members that should have been there, founding members who had passed away, and inductees less than enchanted with the honor.

-- Ron Onesti
President / CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corporation

Read Ron's past columns in The Daily Herald here ...


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Mamas and the Papas Revisited

WAY, way back in 2003 ... before many of you were even born ... Forgotten Hits did a piece on The Mamas and the Papas.

After putting together my piece on Jan Berry yesterday, I was inspired to resurrect this one again (for probably the third or fourth time) as I have always been such a huge fan of their music.

At the time, I tried to put together one of those "Ten Things You Probably Didn't Know About" pieces, similar, in fact, to our Jimi Hendrix piece that ran a few years later.

I had just read the (then) new book "Go Where You Wanna Go", an excellent compilation that told the story of the group in their own words through a series of interviews they had each done over the years.  Using only their quotations without any narrative ... and being OF the time rather than a hindsight review ... I found the book fascinating.

So now, in typical '60's FLASHBACK fashion ... let's revisit our piece on The Mamas and the Papas.

'60's FLASHBACK:   
(before reading our Forgotten Hits piece in 2003) 

There is no question that THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS were one of the most successful recording acts of the mid-'60's.  In the short span of just two years, they placed TEN songs in The National Top 40, including Top Ten Hits like CALIFORNIA DREAMIN', MONDAY MONDAY, I SAW HER AGAIN, WORDS OF LOVE, DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE and CREEQUE ALLEY.  ALL of these were across-the-boards smashes.

1.)  Folk-club pal BARRY McGUIRE (hot on the heels of his own Number One Hit "Eve Of Destruction") got THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS their first audition with producer LOU ADLER and DUNHILL RECORDS.  That fateful day, they performed three songs:  GO WHERE YOU WANNA GO, MONDAY MONDAY and CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' (ironically, these songs would become their first three singles!)  LOU ADLER had never seen or heard ANYTHING like them before.  (He literally could not believe his eyes and ears ... hence the title of their first album.)  He immediately knew that he needed to sign them right away before any other label in town had the chance.  Although the final details still needed to be worked out, he asked group leader JOHN PHILLIPS what he wanted in order to sign and JOHN replied, "I want a steady stream of money coming from your office to my house."  The truth was, THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS were broke ... down to their last ten dollars.  ADLER said that he would hire them to sing backup vocals on BARRY McGUIRE's new album, THIS PRECIOUS TIME, as a means to earn some money until they were ready to start their own recording sessions.  As more of a favor to earn him some songwriting royalties, McGUIRE agreed to cut one of JOHN PHILLIPS' own compositions at these sessions ... a little tune called CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'.  The arrangement and backing track were identical to the one eventually released as THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS' version.  In fact, they simply removed BARRY McGUIRE's vocals, inserted their own, and replaced what was once a harmonica solo with the flute solo we all know and love.  PHILLIPS supposedly begged McGUIRE not to release his version as a single so that HIS band could have a chance at the song.  McGUIRE agreed, stating that, after all, it was JOHN's song in the first place.  It turned out to be a career-making decision for both artists involved.  Truth was, BARRY McGUIRE was having a hard time getting airplay after EVE OF DESTRUCTION ... the song was controversial and banned by many radio stations around the country...yet still sold well enough to hit the top spot on the charts.  McGUIRE would never have another Top 40 Hit ... but CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' launched the careers of THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS.  (BTW:  BARRY McGUIRE had some pretty impressive help on his first few solo recordings.  Not only did THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS sing background on his THIS PRECIOUS TIME album, but the backing group on his hit single EVE OF DESTRUCTION was none other than fellow Dunhill group THE GRASS ROOTS!)  

DIDJAKNOW?:  If you're able to cleanly separate your stereo channels, turn up the volume and listen VERY carefully ... you'll hear Barry McGuire's original vocal "leaking" into the new Mamas and Papas vocals laid on top of the original backing track!

2.) THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS' first album (IF YOU CAN BELIEVE YOUR EYES AND EARS) went all the way to #1 ... a pretty amazing feat for an otherwise unknown group.  In hindsight, it's all the more amazing that it did as well as it did.  The photograph of a co-ed group together in a bathtub was considered pretty racy at the time ... even a little erotic, despite the fact that they were all fully clothed.  What REALLY set things off, however, was the fact that the toilet wasn't cropped out of the picture!  (Back in 1966, you didn't DARE acknowledge the fact that toilets really DID exist!  I clearly remember all the controversy in 1971 when ARCHIE BUNKER first flushed his toilet off-screen on ALL IN THE FAMILY ... it caused quite a stir!)  In fact, SEARS, the biggest music retailer at the time, refused to carry the album unless DUNHILL RECORDS slapped a sticker over the offending toilet promoting the hit singles CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' and MONDAY MONDAY ... and that's the way nearly ALL copies exist today.  (If you've got a copy of the rare toilet seat cover, you've got QUITE a collectible on your hands!!!)

3.)  The story behind THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS' hit song I SAW HER AGAIN has been told many, many times over the years.  After the initial success of their first album, MICHELLE PHILLIPS, wife of leader JOHN PHILLIPS, began an affair with lead vocalist DENNY DOHERTY.  When JOHN discovered them together, he was humiliated ... and faced with the task of what to do ... throw out their lead singer (and, most certainly, their careers down the drain) or continue on for the sake of the group ... and all this in the midst of basking in the success of their very first album!  Amazingly, he chose the latter and even composed a song about their sneaking around together.  I SAW HER AGAIN was a Top Five Smash and became DENNY's permanent punishment ... for penance, he had to sing it every night in concert.  However, in the book GO WHERE YOU WANNA GO ... THE ORAL HISTORY OF THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS, (written by MATTHEW GREENWALD), an interesting new fact about this recording came to light:  The line after the instrumental break in the middle of the song where the group sings:  "I Saw Her ... I Saw Her Again Last Night" was actually a mistake.  DENNY came in early during the original recording and the engineer kept going, planning to fix it later.  Producer LOU ADLER liked it so much, he added strings and the other voices to the coincidental error.  In hindsight, he says that it always sounded "spliced-in" to him ... but it was a hook that they NEVER would have thought of on their own, were it not for the mistake!  ADLER explained, "On I SAW HER AGAIN, that's a mistake, by the way ... DENNY coming back in.  I just left it in the mix.  It was just a mistake but when we were mixing, it felt nice to leave it in."  Bass Guitarist JOE OSBORNE, who played on the session recalled:  "Is that the one that sounded like a splice?  Yeah, that's some of BONES HOWE's editing.  He was great with a razor blade.  I think he loved it, too ... he never did like to get a whole take!"  But Recording Engineer BONES HOWE remembers:  "We were laying down the vocals against the track and we got to that break and they came in at the wrong place, and they all came in together and then the track came in ... and they stopped and started again together.  I remember punching in at the spot where the rhythm section came in, right on the downbeat.  Then the voices that had led up to that point were still there.  So we played it back and I played it from before that and of course it went:  'I saw her ... I saw her again ...'  And then I said, "Well, don't worry about that, LOU, I'll clean it up," and he said, "No, no, no ... don't touch it!  I love it!  Make sure that we don't lose that ... I want to use that!"

4.)  At the peak of their soap-opera-like career, THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS fired Mama MICHELLE PHILLIPS and replaced her with an unknown blonde look-alike named JILL GIBSON without any formal announcement to the public!  Fed up with her non-stop dalliances (well-publicized affairs with bandmate DENNY DOHERTY and GENE CLARK of THE BYRDS were just the tip of the iceberg, apparently), band-leaderJOHN PHILLIPS gave the group the ultimatum:  either SHE goes or I do.  In the scheme of things, it really was no contest ... MICHELLE was just a voice ... and an incidental voice at that ... the REAL talent in the band belonged to CASS ELLIOTT and DENNY DOHERTY, who handled all the lead vocals and JOHN PHILLIPS, who wrote and arranged the material.  On June 28, 1996, formal papers were signed and delivered and MICHELLE was out of the group ... 'though STILL MARRIED to JOHN JILL GIBSON was the former girlfriend of JAN BERRY, one half of the pop/surf duo JAN AND DEAN, who was now laying paralyzed in the hospital after his infamous DEAD MAN'S CURVE accident.  JILL moved on (romantically) to record producer LOU ADLER ... who just happened to be the guy in charge of THE MAMAS AND PAPAS recording sessions.  With virtually no previous singing experience (she was a model and an artist), MICHELLE's vocals were stripped off their next LP and Jill's voice was duped in.  They even reshot the album cover!!!  All that mattered was the fact that JILL had the look ... it's said that at her first couple of concert appearances, most of the audience didn't even notice that MICHELLE had been replaced.  Once the word got out, however, JILL never had a chance ... fans booed their appearances and demanded the return of MICHELLE.  She was soon reinstated ... once again, just like the I SAW HER AGAIN incident, for the good of the band.  To this day, she says that she can't say for sure which vocals on their second album, THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS, are hers and which ones are JILL's.  (Is THAT incidental enough for you?!?!?)

A copy of the actual letter 
(signed by all three of the other band members) 
officially firing MICHELLE PHILLIPS from the group!!!

   The "Michelle Phillips" Cover / The "Jill Gibson" Cover

(Once THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS kissed and made up ... they really WERE the original FLEETWOOD MAC ...
the MICHELLE PHILLIPS photo was reinstated and that's how the album was released to the public!  

5.)  JOHN PHILLIPS started writing TWELVE THIRTY (a #12 Hit for THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS in the Fall of 1967) back in late 1964 / early 1965 when the group was still living in New York City.  There was a church steeple outside JOHN and MICHELLE's apartment that was is the process of being torn down and the clock really WAS stopped at 12:30 ... which meant that every time they passed by, the clock "always read twelve thirty."  The song was finished a couple of years later when THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS were based in Laurel Canyon in California ... hence, the line about the young girls that would "come into the canyon."

6.)  In one of the tales often told by JOHN PHILLIPS as to why he would not, at first, let CASS ELLIOTT join the group, he claimed that there was a certain note that she was unable to hit.  (The truth is that PHILLIPS felt that, despite her great singing voice, CASS's appearance might turn off potential fans.)  The story goes that while out walking one day, CASS was hit in the head by a falling pipe and that, after the accident, she could now hit that elusive note that JOHN was looking for ... and she was then invited to join the band!  Although this was always laughed about and shrugged off as just one of JOHN's quips, in fact CASS WAS hit in the head by a falling pipe during one of their rehearsals!  Although it didn't alter her pitch, it served as the inspiration for this story to be repeated over the years.  (MICHELLE PHILLIPS has said that the story has been told SO many times that she can't even remember if it's true or not!)

7.)  Speaking of MAMA CASS, former HOLLIES member GRAHAM NASH says that, were it not for CASS ELLIOTT, there never would have been a CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH.  She was the one who introduced the then out-of-work NASH to her VERY close friends DAVID CROSBY (of THE BYRDS) and STEPHEN STILLS (of THE BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD).

8.)  And, just for the record, CASS ELLIOTT did NOT die from choking on a ham sandwich, as has been erroneously reported for over 30 years.  The official cause of death was ruled "a heart problem leading to heart failure."  Nothing was found lodged in her throat or trachea.  (In fact, she had very little to eat the day before she died.)  It is now believed that CASS already had a heart condition for quite some time (she had numerous blackouts and fainting spells) and that, coupled with her obesity, along with several "crash diets", (not to mention a MAMMOTH intake of drugs over the years), all simply proved to be too much for her heart to bear.  The official autopsy showed NO drugs in her system.  She died in a London flat owned by HARRY NILSSON ... ironically, the very same room that drummer KEITH MOON of THE WHO would die in four years later.  (The circumstances surrounding the death of CASS ELLIOTT is one of rock's greatest urban legends.  The fact that an uneaten sandwich was found beside the bed caused the press to jump to the conclusion that she choked on the sandwich and then suffocated in her own vomit.  Later, it became a HAM sandwich, I guess, to further exploit her weight problem.  When the REAL autopsy report was released a full week later, the press chose to ignore it.  What's that they always say?  When the truth and the rumor don't match, ALWAYS print the rumor!)

9.)  In early 1970, MICHELLE PHILLIPS happened across a heretofore unrecorded, unpublished singer / songwriter by the name of KRIS KRISTOFFERSON.  With THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS pretty much kaput at that point (CASS, JOHN and DENNY were all working on solo albums at the time), she approached producer LOU ADLER about recording a solo single of her own.  She picked out two tracks that she wanted to release, played them for LOU, and was promptly turned down, told that the songs were "too country sounding" and that she must be losing touch with her audience to even consider recording them.  As a result of this discussion, MICHELLE's would-be single of HELP ME MAKE IT THROUGH THE NIGHT (backed with ME AND BOBBY McGEE) never saw the light of day ... and she never had a solo hit.  One year later, both of those songs would become #1 hits for SAMMI SMITH (#1 Country) and, ironically, JANIS JOPLIN, an old MONTEREY INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL aquaintence.  (MICHELLE PHILLIPS never had a solo hit record released under her own name!)

10.)  And finally, speaking of THE MONTEREY INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL, it was Papa JOHN PHILLIPS and producer LOU ADLER who became the driving forces behind the first-ever rock festival.  They believed that by 1967, rock music had become enough of an art-form that it justified its own cause.  Using the MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL and the MONTEREY FOLK FESTIVAL as their inspiration, they put together the MONTEREY INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL in June of 1967.  Using their own money, they bought out the original investors .... and, with donations of $10,000 each from JOHNNY RIVERS, SIMON AND GARFUNKEL and TERRY MELCHER, they laid the foundation for this ground-breaking, one-of-a-kind event ... TWO full years before WOODSTOCK JOHN and MICHELLE served on the Board Of Directors Committee (along with such other music industry luminaries as PAUL McCARTNEY, DEREK TAYLOR, PAUL SIMON, ART GARFUNKEL and LOU ADLER.)  The idea was to get a bunch of their favorite artists and friends to perform for free and show the world that rock had its place among the "arts" of our society.  Ironically, original promoters ALAN PRASIER and BENNY SHAPIRO had already signed RAVI SHANKAR to perform and had guaranteed him $5000.  SHANKAR was the ONLY artist to get paid for his performance that day!  Everyone else was flown in and given hotel and meal accommodations, but no cash was ever exchanged for their performance.  As such, there was no record label involvement and THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS were allowed to invite whomever they chose without the usual politics involved in such an endeavor.  The charity foundation continues to this day, nearly 50 years later, earning royalties from CD sales and revenues generated by their documentary film of the event.  All of the artists participating turned over all future claims to any earnings, so the foundation has been able to handle (at their own discression) things like building free health clinics in Los Angeles and San Francisco ... they even paid some of Motown legend MARY WELLS' hospital bills ... made donations to the R&B Foundation in New York and have been involved in music cultural exchanges with Cuba ... pretty much anything that they feel is a good cause (without the need to go to committee to get it done!)  And what a group of musicians they were able to bring together:  long-time friends like THE BYRDS and THE BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD, investors JOHNNY RIVERS and SIMON AND GARFUNKEL ... California favorites like THE GRATEFUL DEAD and THE JEFFERSON AIRPLANE ... popular artists like BOOKER T. AND THE MG's and THE ASSOCIATION (who kicked off the whole shebang) ... British rockers like THE WHO and ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS (who even went on to record a song about the whole event) ... diverse / avant-garde acts such as RAVI SHANKAR, HUGH MASEKELA, QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, MOBY GRAPE ... and up-and-coming complete unknowns (and future rock and roll legends) like JIMI HENDRIX (at PAUL McCARTNEY's suggestion), OTIS REDDING and JANIS JOPLIN with BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY ... many of these artists getting their first real national exposure courtesy of this event.  (By the following week EVERYBODY knew who these artists were!) JOHN PHILLIPS even wrote a special song for his buddy SCOTT McKENZIE to sing ... and the hit SAN FRANCISCO (WEAR FLOWERS IN YOUR HAIR) became the anthem of The Summer Of Love.  (LOU ADLER and JOHN PHILLIPS flew in 150,000 orchids from Hawaii to be distributed at THE MONTEREY INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL.  Original posters promoted MUSIC, LOVE AND FLOWERS and, tied in with McKENZIE's new song (SAN FRANCISCO, WEAR FLOWERS IN YOUR HAIR) it really helped make the Summer of Love happen.  (BTW, LOU ADLER and DUNHILL RECORDS never really forgave JOHN PHILLIPS for giving away what just MIGHT have been the biggest record of THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS' career!)  Incredibly, even with this stellar line-up,THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS were still the biggest name on the bill at that time and had the honor of closing the show.  (JOHN and MICHELLE PHILLIPS were the essence of Pop Royalty at the time.)  Unfortunately, so much of the previous three months had been spent organizing the event that NO time had been spent rehearsing!  (In fact, they sounded AWFUL that night ... and every bad note has been preserved for all eternity on the live album commemorating this event!)  DENNY DOHERTY literally drove eight hours the day of the show to arrive just in time to go on stage (after spending the previous several weeks drinking alone in the Virgin Islands.)  CASS flew in the night before.  Worse yet, imagine the pressure to follow to the stage THE WHO, who had just finished destroying all of their instruments (as they were doing at the time) and JIMI HENDRIX (who had just lit his guitar on fire!) with this little harmony-driven folk / rock band.  But THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS persevered and, in fact, shortly afterwards hired JIMI HENDRIX as their opening act!!!  (He was available, having just jumped off THE MONKEES' tour!!!)  Incidently, some of the biggest names in pop music at the time ... THE BEATLES, THE MONKEES, THE ROLLING STONES and THE BEACH BOYS...were all rumored to be, at one time or another, performing at this historic event.  Of course, that never happened ... but members of each of these bands were very involved behind the scenes (and many even attended some of the concerts.)  In particular, PAUL McCARTNEY, GEORGE HARRISON, MICKY DOLENZ, PETER TORK, and BRIAN JONES all took active roles.  It's been said that, in hindsight, THE BEACH BOYS may have turned their careers around simply by performing at MONTEREY that weekend.

The lyrics to The Mamas and Papas' 1967 Hit "Creeque Alley" tells their history up to that point.  There are not-so-subtle references to Barry McGuire, Roger McQuinn, The Lovin' Spoonful and others throughout the song ... as is the tale of their trip to The Virgin Islands (and maxing out their American Express Card) ... but perhaps the BIGGEST surprise of all upon first listen was the line "And no one's getting fat 'cept Mama Cass."  Denny and Michelle thought that SURELY this must be some sort of a joke ... John wouldn't REALLY sing that lyric on the record ... but he did ... and Cass LOVED it!

John's inspiration for "California Dreamin'" came in the middle of the night.  He truly HAD stopped by a church earlier that day.  He woke Michelle up to jot down the lyrics and she brushed him off.  Finally he told her he'd give her HALF the song-writing credit (and thus half the royalties) if she'd simply get up out of bed and write down the lyrics before he forgot them.  She did ... and has made more money thanks to that one night of restless sleep than probably any other in her entire life! 

Although "California Dreamin'" was the group's first big breakthrough hit (and, one would think, an obvious one at that!), Dunhill Records released "Go Where You Wanna Go" as their first single.  It only lasted in the market place for a few weeks however.  After it failed to chart, it was quickly withdrawn and "California Dreamin'" was released in its place.  A year later a new group called The Fifth Dimension would release THEIR version of "Go Where You Wanna Go" and it became their first of 21 National Top 40 Hits.  

1966 - California Dreamin'  (#2)
          Monday Monday  (#1)
          I Saw Her Again (#4)
          Look Through My Window  (#14)
1967 - Words Of Love  (#5)
          Dedicated To The One I Love  (#2)
          Creeque Alley  (#4)
          Twelve Thirty  (#12)
          Glad To Be Unhappy  (#19)
          Dancing Bear  (#36)
1968 - Safe In My Garden  (#33)
          Dream A Little Dream Of Me  (#8)  
          released as Mama Cass with The Mamas and the Papas
          For The Love Of Ivy  (#48)
          Do You Wanna Dance  (#43)    

Still my all-time favorite Mamas and Papas recording (and a RARE chance for Michelle to take the lead) ...