Tag Archives: The Mamas and the Papas
Previously, we learned that many Canadian acts, like Hank Snow and Paul Anka, had moved to the U.S. to bolster their careers. Now, with CBC radio firmly established and the debut of CBC television in 1952, enabling artists to gain significant exposure, many began remaining at home, like Bobby Curtola. Moreover, foreign singers and bands began recording or settling in Canada, even American artists (we’ll look at Heart later). Arriving in Canada from Northern Ireland were The Irish Rovers who, during a lengthy (especially performance-based) career, scored a few hits including their 8 million selling cover of Shel Silverstein’s “The Unicorn” in 1968 and their Juno-nominated smash “Wasn’t That a Party” in 1980. East Prussian born John Kay became a naturalized Canadian citizen and founded the rock band Steppenwolf. An American artist who ended up settling in Canada was Ronnie Hawkins. He started out as a solo artist with a backing band called The Hawks who broke with Hawkins to become their own hybrid band called The Band. What do I mean by “hybrid” band? Let me explain…
In the middle of the 60s, Canada and the United States were swept up in Beatlemania. The British Invasion knocked Paul Anka, Elvis, and a host of acts off the charts. In order to combat this, Canadians and Americans joined forces, coming together to create what I’m calling “hybrid bands”. These were bands, some of whose members were Canadian and some American. There were perhaps five very popular ones: The Band, Steppenwolf, The Mamas and the Papas, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and Blood Sweat and Tears. The latter three were predominantly American outfits (only one member in each band was Canadian), so we will just write a few notes on them. The first two were primarily Canadian bands, so we will profile them. Because it released only three albums and was never a big commercial success (though highly regarded by rock critics and an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) we will not talk about Buffalo Springfield here, but later on we will mention them in conjunction with Neil Young whom we will profile in great detail.
Denny Doherty was a Canadian singer-songwriter who, with three Americans, were The Mamas and The Papas, a hybrid band from 1965 to 1971. They released five albums and scored ten hit singles, the biggest being “California Dreamin’” (#4), “Monday, Monday” (#1), and “Dedicated to the One I Love” (#2). Doherty co-wrote the bands’ songs “I Got a Feelin’”, “For the Love of Ivy”, and “I Saw Her Again”, the latter reaching #5 on the Billboard charts and, naturally, going #1 in Canada. Doherty was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996. The Mamas and The Papas were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Zal Yanovsky was a Canadian guitarist and singer who, from 1965 to 1967, was in the short-lived hybrid band The Lovin’ Spoonful with three Americans. They scored a number of hits; their three biggest all came in 1966—“Summer in the City” (#1 in both the U.S. and Canada), “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind” (#2), and “Daydream” (#1 in Canada and #2 in the U.S.). Zal Yanovsky was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996. The Lovin’ Spoonful was inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
In 1968 Blood, Sweat and Tears recruited a Canadian lead singer: David Clayton-Thomas. All other members were American. Clayton-Thomas is the one who fronted the band when they rose to superstardom, and he is the one who, unaided, composed one of their biggest hits—“Spinning Wheel”. Their second album (self-titled) topped the Billboard charts, was the third biggest of the year, and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year beating out The Beatles’ Abbey Road! Their follow up album (Blood, Sweat, and Tears 3), released in 1970, also topped the charts. The band’s biggest hits were all released in 1969, reached #2 on the Billboard Pop Charts, and went #1 on the Canadian charts. These were a version of Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die”, Clayton-Thomas’ “Spinning Wheel”, and a cover of Berry Gordy and Brenda Holloway’s “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”. David Clayton-Thomas was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996.