JOHN PHILLIPS Biography - Musicians


Biography » musicians » john phillips


Name: John Phillips                                                                     
Birth name: John Edmund Andrew Phillips                                                 
Also known as Papa John                                                                 
Born; 30 August 1935 Parris Island, South Carolina, USA                                 
Died: 18 March 2001 Los Angeles, California, USA                                         
John Phillips, born John Edmund Andrew Phillips (August 30, 1935 - March 18,             
2001), was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Known as Papa John,           
Phillips was a member and leader of the singing group The Mamas & the Papas. He         
is the father of Jeffrey Phillips, Mackenzie Phillips, Chynna Phillips,                 
Tamerlane Phillips, and Bijou Phillips.                                                 
Phillips was born in Parris Island, South Carolina. His father was a retired             
United States Marine Corps officer who won an Oklahoma bar from a fellow Marine         
in a poker game on the way home from Europe after World War I. His mother was           
Cherokee Indian and met and married Phillips' father in Oklahoma. According to           
Phillips' autobiography, Papa John, his father was a heavy drinker who suffered         
from ill health.                                                                         
Growing up in Alexandria, Virginia, Phillips was inspired by Marlon Brando and           
other film stars to be "street tough." He formed a small gang of teenage boys,           
who also sang doo-wop songs. A poor student but likable kid, he was the star of         
the George Washington High School basketball team. He attended the U.S. Naval           
Academy, but left during his first (plebe) year. He also attended Hampden-Sydney         
College on a partial athletic scholarship, but dropped out and shortly                   
thereafter married his first of four wives.                                             
Susan Adams was the daughter of a wealthy Virginia family. Together they had a           
son called Jeffrey and a girl they named (Laura) Mackenzie Phillips.                     
Phillips longed to have success in the music industry and traveled to New York           
to find a record contract in the early sixties. His first band, The Journeymen,         
was a folk trio. He developed his craft in Greenwich Village, during the                 
American folk music revival, and met his future The Mamas & the Papas bandmates         
Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot there. Lyrics of their song "Creeque Alley"               
describe this period.                                                                   
While touring California with The Journeymen he met his future second wife, the         
teenage Michelle Gilliam. Their affair finally forced the dissolution of his             
first marriage. Phillips was married to Michelle Phillips from 1962 to 1970.             
They had one child together, Chynna Phillips, the founder of the singing group           
Wilson Phillips.                                                                         
Phillips was the primary songwriter and musical arranger of The Mamas & the             
Papas. Early in the band's history, John and Michelle were responsible for               
writing most of the band's songs. John would often come up with a melody and             
some lyrics and Michelle would help him complete the lyrical portion of the song.       
After being signed to Dunhill Records, they had several Billboard Top Ten hits           
during the group's short lifetime, including "California Dreamin'"; "Monday,             
Monday"; "I Saw Her Again"; "Creeque Alley"; and "12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming         
to the Canyon)". John Phillips also wrote "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear               
Flowers in Your Hair)," the 1967 Scott McKenzie hit that was to become the               
Summer of Love "anthem." Phillips also wrote the oft-covered "Me and My Uncle,"         
which was the song performed more times than any other over 30 years of Grateful         
Dead concerts.                                                                           
The group's popularity rivaled that of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in the         
late sixties. Although the band lasted only several short years with five studio         
albums, the music is recognized today as some of the greatest pop of the 20th           
The Phillipses became Hollywood celebrities, living in the Hollywood Hills and           
socializing with stars like Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and Roman Polanski.           
The group broke up largely because Cass Elliot wanted to go solo and because of         
some personal problems between Phillips, Michelle, and Denny Doherty. Michelle           
had been fired briefly in 1966, for having had affairs with both Denny and Gene         
Clark, and was replaced for two months by Jill Gibson, their producer Lou Adler's       
girlfriend. Although Michelle was forgiven and asked to return to the group, the         
personal problems would continue until the band split up in 1968. Cass Elliot           
went on to have a successful solo career until her death in 1974.