“This is going to break your heart, but
much of the music
you heard in the ‘60s and early ‘70s wasn’t recorded by the people you
the album covers. It was done by me and the musicians you see on these
Many of these kids didn’t have the chops and were little more than
… At concerts, people hear with their eyes. Teens cut groups slack in
but not when they bought their records.”
Hal Blaine, longtime drummer for the Wrecking Crew, quoted in the Wall Street Journal on March 23, 2011
Before moving ahead with the John Phillips saga, I first need to pose an extremely important question to all my readers: is anyone out there in the market for a slightly used, covert film studio? If so, then all you need do is pull about $6.2 million out of your penny jar (though in today’s housing market, you might be able to cut a better deal) and Lookout Mountain Laboratory can be yours! And if you act fast, you might be able to get a package deal on the lab and the Hodel house! (the photos in this post are of the lab as it looks today as a converted residential dwelling).
Another item worth noting: as reported by the
Francisco Chronicle on January 28, 2011, “Ron Patterson, the
free-spirited creator of the Renaissance and Dickens fairs, died Jan.
15 at a
friend’s house in
What does any of that though have to do with
One naturally wonders whether aspiring
golden child Godo Paulekas (originally cast, it will be recalled, to
in Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising) was involved in those
any event, there is certainly nothing creepy about children’s workshops
hosted in a small, tight-knit community that was home to more than its
of pedophiles, so let’s just move along.
One last item of note, this one from, of all
the pages of Sports Illustrated circa June 29, 1981. The
excerpt is from a short piece written by publisher Philip Howlett to
readers to writer Bjarne Rostaing: “Born in Lincoln, N.Y., Rostaing
grew up in
various places in Connecticut, where he attended what he recalls as an
dozen schools. ‘I got my B.A. and master’s in English from the
I’m guessing that it was like countless other
intelligence units designed to churn out shapers of public opinion,
actors, novelists, newsmen, or, in this case, sportswriters and
popular music. It is quite shocking, of course, to learn that the
Anyway … during the heyday of the Mamas and the Papas, John and Michelle Phillips knew, and regularly played host to, virtually everyone of importance in the canyons. In addition to all the singers and musicians living in Laurel Canyon, the power couple’s circle of friends included Warren Beatty, Peter and Jane Fonda, Jack Nicholson, Terry Melcher and girlfriend Candace Bergen, Marlon Brando, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski, soon-to-be-dead gossip columnist Steve Brandt, Larry Hagman, presidential brother-in-law Peter Lawford (fresh from his probable involvement in the murder of Marilyn Monroe), Dennis Hopper, Ryan O’Neal, Mia “Rosemary’s Baby” Farrow, ethereal Freemason Peter Sellers, and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
And a short, scraggly singer/songwriter by
of Charlie Manson.
There were, to be sure, numerous ties between
Phillips, the ‘Wolf King of LA,’ and Charles Manson. And ties as well
bandmate Cass Elliott and Manson. And between Philips and Cass and the
Mama Cass, as previously noted, lived across
from the house occupied by Folger and Frykowski at
So dark was the scene at the home of the ‘Lady of the Canyon’ that, according to Terry, four of the LAPD’s initial prime suspects in the Tate killings were drug dealers associated with Elliott. And yet, curiously enough, all of the canyon’s peace-and-love spewing musicians were regulars at Mama Cass’s home as well. As Rolling Stone noted in its Fortieth Anniversary Edition, “’Mama’ Cass Elliott’s cozy canyon house functioned as a sort of rock salon.” In a similar vein, Barney Hoskyns wrote in Hotel California that “Cass kept permanent open house.”
Also noted in Hoskyn’s tome was that the
Also a regular at Cass’s place, by some
Charlie Manson himself. According to Ed Sanders, it was at Cass’s home
Charlie first met her neighbor, coffee heiress Abigail Folger (who
finance Kenneth Anger’s films, like the one that was supposed to star
Paulekas but instead starred Mansonite Bobby Beausoleil). According to
the rather notorious group known as The Process: Church of the Final
which evidence suggests had deep ties to the Manson, Son of Sam, and
Club murders – actively sought to recruit Mama Cass, as well as John
and Terry Melcher.
A few further bits of Mansonalia: Terry has
that the Family’s iconic bus was seen parked at the home of John and
Phillips in the fall of 1968. Reports also hold that Manson attended a
Year’s Eve party at the couple’s home on December 31, 1968, just months
the murders. So close were the ties between the Mamas and the Papas and
Manson clan that both John Phillips and Mama Cass were slated to appear
witnesses for the defense at the Family’s trial, though not
neither was ever called.
For a band that sang about being “safe and
I was in LA,” the members of the Mamas and the Papas kept some pretty
company in the city of angels … which reminds me that, not long after
hit the charts, Tamar Hodel received a postcard from Michelle Phillips
her to watch their scheduled performance on the Ed Sullivan Show and
the group at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel before a scheduled concert.
showed up with father George at her side, the two apparently still
a close relationship, and Tamar, George, John, Michelle, Denny and Cass
on a drug-fueled pre-show odyssey.
By 1970, John and Michelle had divorced. Many
later, Michelle would reveal that their time together had included at
episode of domestic violence, one that she was still reluctant to
was serious. I ended up in the hospital. That’s all I’ll say about it.”
union had yielded John a second daughter, Gilliam Chynna Phillips, born
February 12, 1968 in
On January 31, 1972, John Phillips married
third time, to actress and
In June 1972, shortly after marrying Waite,
moved into a canyon home at
Cass Elliott turned up in London the very
but unlike her former bandmate, her trip abroad was to be one-way; on
1974, she was found dead in occasional Canyonite Harry Nilsson’s London
Ms Elliott, it seems safe to say, knew a little too much about the dark
Following the dissolution of the Mamas and the Papas, Cass had gone on to a successful solo career and had become a familiar face on American television screens. In addition to hosting two prime-time network specials, she had guest-hosted the Tonight Show and had appeared on such popular early-1970s shows as The Red Skelton Show and Love, American Style.
She had been married twice, first in 1963 to vocalist Jim Hendricks in what was reportedly a platonic arrangement aimed at getting Hendricks a draft deferment. During that first marriage, which was annulled in 1968, Cass had given birth to a daughter, Owen Vanessa Elliott, born on April 26, 1967. Hendricks, however, was reportedly not the father and Cass steadfastly refused to reveal who Owen’s true father was. In 1971, following the breakup of the band, Cass married again, this time to Baron Donald von Weidenman, a wealthy Bavarian heir. That marriage collapsed after just a few months though and Cass was single when she died just a few years later. Owen, already fatherless, was just seven.
Denny Doherty, meanwhile, went on to host a
variety show in
Michelle Phillips released an unsuccessful
album, but then switched gears and went on to a successful acting
gracing the small screen in such hit shows as Knot’s Landing, Hotel,
Returning now to John Phillips, in 1975 he sobered up enough to put together the soundtrack for the film The Man Who Fell to Earth, a surreal venture featuring the talents of fledgling actor David Bowie and director Nicholas Roeg, who had previously collaborated with Crowleyite Donald Cammell on the heavily occult-influenced Performance. Roeg’s film, curiously enough, includes a cameo appearance by Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell. At that same time, Phillips was working on completing a horrifically bad, Andy Warhol-produced musical entitled Man on the Moon, which closed just two days after opening.
As a side note, Phillips at one time had Don
Vice” Johnson in mind to play the lead in his space opera. Like the
rest of the
Some of you may have noticed, by the way, that I am all but cured of my former addiction to the word ‘digress,’ thanks to a twelve-step program I’ve been working my way through. I can now veer off on wild tangents having little to do with the main topic of discussion – like filling you in, for example, on nonexistent twelve-step programs – and not feel the slightest compulsion to point out the temporary loss of focus.
Anyway … for the remainder of his career, Phillips’ musical output consisted primarily of occasionally writing songs for and with others, his most well known contribution being his co-writing duties on the wretchedly awful Kokomo, recorded by the Beach Boys.
In 1981, Phillips found himself facing
trafficking large volumes of narcotics. By his own account, he had an
arrangement with a pharmacy that allowed him to obtain large amounts of
narcotics without prescriptions (daughter Bijou would later say that he
actually purchased the pharmacy, guaranteeing virtually unlimited
charges were quite serious; in Phillip’s own words, he “was looking at
forty-five years and got thirty days.” He began serving his sentence,
appropriately enough, on April 20, and he was released just
He should have gotten at least ninety days
Phillip’s circle of friends, in the
Papas years, included J. Paul Getty, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Jr., and
Margaret. Getty and Kennedy, both plagued by demons of their own, were
being supplied by Phillips. Another name in Phillips’ rolodex was Colin
Tennant, the wealthy heir of a massive petrochemical conglomerate in
Upon being released from his preposterously
period of confinement, Phillips put together a version of the Mamas and
Papas that included daughter Mackenzie Phillips and original lead
Denny Doherty. Scott McKenzie, who had summoned all the runaways across
country to come to
Phillips had divorced Waite in 1985. In 1992,
received a liver transplant and a new lease on life. Just months later,
photographed drinking in a bar in
Oldest daughter Mackenzie began
acting career at the tender age of twelve when she landed a role in
what was to
be George Lucas’ breakthrough film, American Graffiti. Just a
before, it will be recalled, Lucas had been an unknown cameraman at the
A few years later, in 1975, Mackenzie landed a role on what would quickly become a hit television series, One Day at a Time. During the third season, however, Mackenzie was arrested for public drunkenness and cocaine possession, after which her substance abuse problems continued to spiral out of control, causing frequent problems and considerable tension on the set of her hit show. Providing a template for Charlie Sheen to later follow, she was fired from the production in 1980.
After two nearly fatal overdoses, she was invited back by producers in 1981. The following year though she collapsed on the set and was once again fired. What had once seemed a very promising acting career was over as quickly as it had begun.
From the late 1980s through the early 1990s,
performed intermittently with the reformed Mamas and Papas. In 1992,
reportedly entered a long-term rehab program that she didn’t emerge
nine months. Following that, she kept a low profile for many years. In
2008, however, she was arrested at LAX for heroin and cocaine
possession and on
Halloween day 2008, she entered a guilty plea and was once again sent
A year later, in September 2009, Mackenzie released her tell-all memoir, High on Arrival, which painted a dark and disturbing picture of her late father. In addition to introducing her to drugs at the age of eleven by injecting her with cocaine, Mackenzie claimed that Papa John had raped her on the eve of her first marriage, and had engaged in an incestuous affair with her that spanned a decade and ended only when she became pregnant and did not know who the father was – a scenario, it should be noted, with remarkable parallels to the ordeal endured by Michelle’s surrogate mother, Tamar Hodel.
John Phillips’ memoir covering the time
question makes no mention of the illicit relationship with his
does claim that Mackenzie was once raped at knifepoint by an unknown
He also notes, shockingly enough, that Mackenzie’s “house in
The year after dropping her bombshells, Mackenzie appeared on what is arguably the most appalling ‘reality’ show to ever hit the airwaves, Celebrity Rehab, in a role far removed from her glory days on a hit primetime show. That same year, sister Chynna Phillips entered rehab as well, though she was seeking relief from, uhmm, ‘anxiety.’
Chynna first captured the spotlight in 1990
of the vocal group Wilson Phillips, alongside of Carnie and
Wilson, offspring of the reclusive Brian Wilson (the only Beach Boy, by
way, to not be involved with the aforementioned
In 1995, Chynna married actor William Baldwin. In 2003, she became what Vanity Faire described as a “fervent born-again Christian. She was baptized in brother-in-law Stephen Baldwin’s bathtub.” The magazine also quoted Chynna as saying that “being a mom is challenging for me – my perspective is warped.”
Like her older sisters, Bijou Lilly Phillips – born April 1, 1980, just a year before her father was harshly punished for running a major narcotics trafficking operation – merged into the fast lane at a very young age. Her mother was addicted to heroin while carrying her and Bijou has candidly described herself as a “crack baby.” Raised partially in a foster home, she was reunited with her father by the courts when in the third grade. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
by Index magazine as “a wild child who, through fate and
was somehow allowed to partake of
Bijou told her interviewer from
that lurking behind the scenes of that notorious Calvin Klein photo
shoot – I’m
guessing as a technical adviser – “was this porn guy.” The interviewer
identified that “porn guy” as Ron Jeremy, probably the world’s most
arguably the world’s most inexplicable, porn star.
I should, I suppose, qualify
statement: Ron Jeremy’s fame is inexplicable in the sense that it is
imagine that anyone, male or female, really wants to see Ron
naked. He is not, however, just any ol’ porn star. To the contrary, he
porn star whose mother was an asset of the
He is, in other words, an
hung connected porn star.
Bijou has alluded to the fact that Mackenzie was not the only Phillips daughter to receive unwanted attention from Papa John. In her music can be found lyrics such as “he touched me wrong.” Asked directly about such references, she told an interviewer that she had “made this decision not to talk to the press about anything that’s gone on in my life, but just to write music about it. They can interpret it themselves,” though she then quickly added, “It’s blatantly obvious.”
The youngest of the Phillips clan also acknowledged that she has a “Daddy” tattoo on her rear. “That was [done] during a time,” she said, “when I was a pretty sick puppy.”
Bijou made her film debut in 1999 and has had a number of low-profile film and television roles since then. Most recently, she had a recurring role on the freshman season of Raising Hope as, of all things, a serial killer. She is currently an avid Scientologist. Many of the problems she has faced, she ultimately realized, stem from the fact that she’d “never been shown respect by [her] parents. [She’d] always been treated like an object, not like a human.”