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What made the Mamas and the Papas stand out was the mix of male (John Phillips, Denny Doherty) and female (Cass Elliot, Michelle Phillips) voices. Combined with sharp songwriting and arrangements from Phillips and musical contributions from some of Los Angeles’ finest session musicians—especially drummer Hal Blaine, bassist Joe Osborne and keyboardist Larry Knechtel—the Mamas and the Papas cut some of the most unforgettable songs of the Sixties. “California Dreamin’,” in particular, endures as an anthem of those heady times.
The Mamas and the Papas were a major part of the Southern California pop scene of the mid to late Sixties. Along with the Byrds, the Beach Boys, the Turtles and the Association, they bombarded the Top Forty with superbly produced folk-pop songs delivered with lush harmonies.