Book Launch Party
Book launch party at The Cutting Room in NYC on June 1, 2023.
Drawing on previously published memoirs of band members and new interviews with those who knew them, radio producer Shea crafts an impersonal but intriguing compilation of the accounts, song development, and relationship entanglements that led to the fast rise and extraordinary fall of the Mamas & the Papas. The book primarily focuses on John Phillips, from his troubled childhood as the son of an abusive, alcohol-addicted parent, to his complicated first marriage and his attempts to become a serious folk musician. Then Phillips met aspiring model Michelle Gilliam, and their relationship became the catalyst for his best-known songs, “California Dreamin’” and “Monday, Monday.” Phillips soon brought Cass Elliot into the group, along with tenor Dennis Doherty. As a band, the Mamas & the Papas recorded five albums, with 10 hits, in the 1960s. Drugs, affairs, jealousies as Mama Cass becomes the breakout star, and an embarrassing set as the closing act for Phillips’s Monterey International Pop Festival soon led to the band’s demise. VERDICT Shea’s matter-of-fact journalistic style prevents sensationalism from overtaking this study of the Mamas & the Papas’ powerful influence and importance.
― Library Journal
“Scott Shea takes us on the wild ride that was The Mamas & The Papas with terrific detail, refreshing honesty, and perhaps best of all, a true love of their music. All the Leaves Are Brown had me from page one.”—Sheila Weller, author of New York Times bestseller Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation
“Given the personal lives of these singers, Scott Shea’s book might qualify for the horror genre rather than history or biography. But then there’s the music—which was startling, distinctive, and unforgettable. For a generation, these songs have served as monuments to major moments in life. All the Leaves Are Brown is a hard read for its sorrow, but rewarding for its insights into the art of a unique and profoundly influential band.”— Mike Aquilina, songwriter, TV host, and co-author of Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth
“The Mamas & The Papas’ story is wilder than any work of fiction and Scott Shea is the first author to tell it objectively and in full. This is a book I could not put down.”—Bill Flanagan, author of Fifty in Reverse: A Novel