I’m back with another B-Side Bios! This feature is a quick introduction to some of the maybe unknown facts about some of our favourite musicians and today, we’re taking it back to the 60’s. Taking it back to the time of The Mamas & The Papas and the angelic vocals of Mama Cass. This woman made such a big impact in such a short time and today, you get to learn a little more about the woman behind the voice in tracks like Monday, Monday and Creeque Alley.
Cass Elliot was born Ellen Naomi Cohen in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 19, 1941. She had adopted the name "Cass" in high school, and assumed the surname Elliot some time later, in memory of a friend who had died. While attending high school, she became interested in acting. She won a small part in a local play and fell in love with the theatre. She left high school shortly before graduation and moved to New York City to further her acting career. She toured in the musical The Music Man in 1962, later losing a leading role in a major production to none other than Barbra Streisand.
Her first big musical break came when she formed the group The Big 3, releasing her first-ever album, Winkin’, Blinkin’ and Nod. One night, walking through a construction site, she was hit on the head by some copper tubing claiming this incident increased her vocal range by 3 octaves.
The Big 3 disbanded after only 8 months, but in this time she married one of her bandmates to help him avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War. Their marriage was later annulled. After The Big 3, she toured as a solo performer before joining as the final member of The Mamas & The Papas in 1965. In just 5 years, The Mamas & The Papas released a total of five studio albums and seventeen singles, six of which made the Billboard top ten, and went on to sell nearly 40 million records worldwide before also disbanding in 1971.
On July 29, 1974, following the final show of a two-week solo stint at The London Palladium, Cass went back to her hotel room. That night, at the age of only 32, she died in her sleep of heart failure. She died in room number 12 at 9 Curzon Place in London. Four years later, The Who’s drummer Keith Moon died in the same room, also at the age of 32.
In 1998, Mama Cass along with The Mamas & The Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their contributions to the music industry.
For more of a personal tie, good friends of the show Trouble & Daughter have a link to The Mamas & The Papas as well. The talented John Doherty formerly of T&D, is the son of Denny Doherty, singer, guitarist and founding member of The Mamas & The Papas.
Did ya learn something?
As always, for a fun Pull the Plug added bonus, check out this week’s acoustic cover of California Dreamin’ in our PTP Spotify playlist.