The skinny blonde, model-looking one is Michelle — Michelle Phillips. The hefty one with the full-moon face and knuckle-shield rings is Cass Elliott.
Until a year ago they were very very poor. Now they are rich, and getting richer, for they constitute one half of the Mamas and the Papas, the most inventive pop musical group around and the first really new vocal sound since the Beatles.
In their first album, the cover photograph showed the wildly diverse foursome — the girls and the two “Papas” — crammed into a bathtub. The sound inside was a close weaving of folk and rock, with a trace of the blues and now and then a moment of Stan Kenton’s dissonant modernism.
A musky tenor usually sang the lead, crowded underneath by a rich contralto. Hovering nearby were a knowing baritone and a clear, true soprano, seemingly going separate ways but sliding together on songs like “Monday, Monday,” with intricate modulations and harmonies.
Within six months, the Mamas and the Papas were at the top of the charts. Their personal appearances this summer were sell-outs.
They will soon leave on a tour of Europe where the Beatles have promised to write them some new songs — only if they return the favor.
The two Papas, Denny Doherty, left, and John Phillips, listen to a playback at a recording studio. Perfectionists, they often spend 20 hours at a time in the studio. “We know when a session is over because Cass turns green,” says John. “We say ‘Cass is green, that’s all for today.'”
The group waits in a Chicago suite (second from top) for champagne which they order after a concert.
Recording their second album, which had enough advance sales to guarantee a gold record before its release, Cass sings “Words of Love,” and at right, the two Mamas, in mod clothes, tape an NBC-TV show. Cass runs to tent dresses — like this orange and purple number.
A few years back she worked in a club with a singer named Barbra Streisand. “Barbra wouldn’t speak to me then,” remembers Cass. “Maybe she knew she was going to be a big star. Well, I knew I was going to be a big star, too, and I would have talked to her. Boy, if I ever meet her in Bergdorf s now!”