Only in the 1960s could someone as robust as Cass Elliot become an equally big star. Sure, she had talent to burn and a set of unrivalled pipes, but in this day and age of the thinner than thin in showbiz, she just would not have stood a chance…and a shame it would have been indeed.
The former Ellen Cohen was born in Maryland and got her start as part of the folk trio, The Big Three along with Tim Rose and James Hendricks, whom she was married to for a time in an effort for him to avoid the draft. When Rose left the group in 1964, future Lovin’ Spoonful member Zal Yanovsky and Denny Doherty joined their ranks and they became The Mugwumps who cuts some sides for Warner Bros. Records the same year.
Shortly thereafter, Yanovsky joined forces with John Sebastian while Doherty joined The New Journeymen who counted John Phillips and his wife Michelle amongst their ranks. After Cass joined the fold, the group would soon become The Mamas And The Papas. Of course you can listen to their track,“Creeque Alley” to have the blanks filled in for you.
Cass was the ultimate hippy chick and center of the hip L.A. cognoscenti moving in the same circles as David Crosby, Steve Stills, and Graham Nash. In fact according to Stills, the trio first sang together while at a party at Cass’ house (although Nash and Crosby insist that the meeting took place at Joni Mitchell’s house). Nevertheless, it would only be a matter of time before Cass would record on her own, and with the help of extensive television work, she began to score hits. Her records were pure pop affairs cut at Western Recorders in LA in the late 60s and early 70s featuring a who’s who of wrecking crew favorites including on this track Hal Blaine, Joe Osborne, Larry Knechtel, Steve Barri and Carol Kaye.
This song is better known for Bobby Sherman’s version than Cass’, but I think the 1971 production values and arrangements on this version make it much better. It is originally from her album Bubble Gum, Lemonade &…Something For Mama whose cover image was framed in chewed bubble gum.
Elliot died in London in 1974 of a heart attack (and not from choking on a ham sandwich) in the same flat that Keith Moon would die, at the same age four years later.