On Sunday, fans of the hit Sixties folk-rock group can tune into Sky Arts to watch California Dreamin’: The Songs of The Mamas & the Papas and see both interviews and performances from their heyday.
Viewers can enjoy the story of the band behind hits such as Monday Monday, Creeque Alley, and California Dreamin’.
The legendary Californian group — made up of John Phillips, Michelle Phillips, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty — was only together for three years from 1965 to 1968, as their love quadrangle proved to put a strain on working and singing together.
Here, Express.co.uk brings together all the elements of this complicated web of love affairs, broken hearts, drug abuse and unspeakable allegations.
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John and Michelle, who brought the band together, married in 1962 when the former model was just 18 years old and he was 27. But their marriage was not monogamous — both had affairs and Michelle had a romance with Denny.
But ‘Mama Cass’ was in love with Denny, a love that was always unrequited. She reportedly confronted Michelle about the affair, telling her bandmate that she did not understand why she did it as she could have any man she wanted.
John was not too happy about the affair either as Michelle, the 78-year-old sole survivor of the group, told Rolling Stone magazine last year.
She recalled: “John didn’t actually find us having sex, but he did come downstairs, and I was sitting on Denny’s bed in my nightgown, feeding him candies. He said, ‘You could do a lot of things to me, Mich, but you don’t f*** my tenor.’”
Michelle was at one point booted out of the band after John discovered that she had had an affair with Gene Clark from the Byrds but she was quickly reinstated when the fans threatened a boycott.
John also had multiple affairs. When he wrote the song “Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon” Michelle would chide that he had slept “with them all”.
Eventually, the tangled relations between the group led to them disbanding in 1968 with a cocktail of booze and drugs adding to the tension.
In 1969, the then 24-year-old Michelle — who went on to pursue acting — also decided to call it quits on her marriage and she walked out of their Bel Air mansion, taking the couple’s daughter with her, adding “I was so afraid of John”.
Their marriage was not smooth sailing in more ways than one as Michelle also alleged that her ex-husband was once violent towards her.
She explained: “I have never, ever mentioned this to my children or to my friends, but there was a night when John let me have it. He mentioned it in his book. I think he said there was a little slapping. It was more than that…
“There was no love lost between John and [me] towards the end. At all. I saw how he had changed from that handsome, wholesome, all-American boy into this depravity of addiction. He was not the same person I had loved.”
Papa John Phillips, as he was known, did not have the best reputation but it was truly tarnished when his daughter accused him of raping her following his death in 2001 at the age of 65.
In 2009, his daughter from his first marriage to Susan Adams, Mackenzie Phillips, claimed that she and her father had an incestuous relationship that began after he raped her while they were on drugs.
Writing in her 2009 memoir High on Arrival, Mackenzie said the night before she was to be married in 1979 at the age of 19, her father showed up. She wrote: “I had tons of pills, and Dad had tons of everything too. Eventually, I passed out on Dad’s bed…
“My father was not a man with boundaries. He was full of love, and he was sick with drugs. I woke up that night from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own father.”
His wife at the time, Genevieve Waite, said in a statement given to The Oprah Winfrey Show that he was “incapable, no matter how drunk or drugged he was, of having such a relationship with his own child”.
California Dreamin’: The Songs of The Mamas & the Papas airs at 12pm on Sky Arts on Sunday.