SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Life!) - As the last surviving member of folk rock group The Mamas & the Papas, Michelle Phillips says her days of singing are over -- unless Paul McCartney came knocking on her door.
The 1960s group, known for hits such as “Monday, Monday” and California Dreamin,” broke up in 1968 amid tangled relations between the two-man, two-woman band and two years later she divorced the band’s singer John Phillips. The group briefly reunited in 1971.
Elliot died of a heart attack in 1974, Phillips from heart failure in 2001, and the death of Denny Doherty earlier this year left Phillips as the last surviving original member.
On the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco and the seminal June 1967 Monterey Pop festival, Phillips, 63, reflected on her career that has included modeling, singing and acting in films and TV shows:
Q: In more recent years you have spent more time doing film and television work than music. How come?
A: “Why not? I love acting and I really am a group singer and I’m not really a soloist. That whole life was behind me so I joined some acting workshops and when I got my first job I just was determined to be a professional actress.”
Q: Is there one thing you liked more than the other?
A: “The hardest one, the thing that made the greatest demand on me, was The Mamas & the Papas. John was very, very tough because he demanded a very high standard and you didn’t get out of that studio until it sounded like what John was hearing in his head. That could take 17 hours.”
Q: Was it difficult that your personal life was so public?
A: “We were just talking about this (recently), about Lindsay Lohan and all these poor girls that everything they do is reported in the press. It wasn’t true with us. As a matter of fact, when I was fired from the group by John, and then by Cass (Elliot) and Denny, nobody knew.”
Q: Is it strange to be the last living member of the band?
A: “Yes, it is. It seems that they all died very young. Nobody reached 70! John died when he was 65, Denny died when he was 66, now that was a real shocker. Cass died when she was 33.”
Q: Is there a secret to your youthfulness?
A: “A happy life. I have had a very happy life and I have a great guy I’ve been going with for eight years -- a doctor, which is very unlikely, the rock and roller and the doctor! I’m not working that much right now, but then again, there are very few parts for women my age, or parts you would want anyway.”
Q: You advocate the legalization of marijuana.
A: “It’s just a very stupid law. I mean everybody smokes marijuana. I think everyone has tried it. I actually don’t smoke pot anymore but I think that it should be legalized. When I, you know, took LSD, it was legal. I just think that people should be in charge of their own bodies.”
Q: Are you done with music?
A: “I’m a group singer. I can’t imagine finding a group that I want to sing in. Yeah, I guess I am. I don’t have any desire to go back into the studio, and I certainly don’t have any desire to go back on the road.”
Q: If Paul McCartney called, or someone called of a certain stature, would that tempt you?
A: “Yeah, I’ll sing with Paul. You tell Paul I’ll sing with him.”
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