I was originally going to do a post on Michelle Phillips, the stunning blonde from the sixties hippie band, The Mamas & the Papas.
But then I realized she was just a pretty face who slept with a bunch of famous people.
Mama Cass, however, was fucking awesome.
Here is her story:
The beautiful and fabulous Cass Elliot grew up in Washington D.C. and fell in love with acting. Upon graduating high school, she made a splash in the New York City theater scene. Quickly, her strong voice was recognized by musicians and she joined a couple folk groups.
It was during this time that an almost-tragic accident miraculously gave Mama Cass an even BETTER singing voice!
"It’s true, I did get hit on the head by a pipe that fell down and my range was increased by three notes. They were tearing this club apart in the islands, revamping it, putting in a dance floor. Workmen dropped a thin metal plumbing pipe and it hit me on the head and knocked me to the ground. I had a concussion and went to the hospital. I had a bad headache for about two weeks and all of a sudden I was singing higher. It’s true. Honest to God."
-Mama Cass, Rolling Stone Magazine, 1968
After the accident, she was asked to join a newly formed folk band, The Mamas & the Papas, even though member John Phillips considered her too fat and unattractive.
Unfortunately, being overweight in the Twiggy days of the 1960s was a frustrating dilemma for the brilliant singer-songwriter. She struggled through failed crash diets her entire life.
Ironically, despite her obesity, Mama Cass ended up being the most-loved member of the iconic band. Fans immediately realized that Mama Cass was the true talent of the four musicians.
Plus, she became an unexpected sex symbol. The other band members recall crazed fans throwing up their hotel room keys to Mama Cass, desperate for her attention. She even posed for a very famous magazine cover, wearing nothing but a few daisies.
She also overshadowed her bandmate, Michelle, as a fashion symbol for the hippie crowd.
Despite her raging success as a folk musician, Mama Cass's love life was barely hanging by a thread.
She married twice: once in 1968 to save a friend from being drafted into the Vietnam War and the second time to a prominent journalist, who was the heir to a Bavarian barony. But the second marriage only lasted a few months before it crumbled.
She also had a daughter out of wedlock and never revealed the father. Michelle Phillips helped her daughter discover her father years later.
When The Mamas & the Papas broke up in 1971, she began a flourishing solo career. By this point, the bubbly brunette had become extremely close friends with several rock icons, including Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton.
She had just completed two weeks of sold out concerts in London when she unexpectedly died in her flat at the age of 32.
It was famously reported in all the tabloids that Mama Cass died choking on a ham sandwich. That is not true. A doctor merely saw a ham sandwich and a champagne glass sitting on her bed stand. He speculated the food could have been the cause. An autopsy soon declared she had suffered a heart attack during her sleep and no food was found in her windpipe.
Unfortunately, the story, which has become a cruel source of mockery towards the overweight singer, still persists in the minds of music lovers today.
Her best solo song is below. I hope you enjoy it.