Mama Cass

Mama Cass

On July 29, 1974 : Cass Elliot dies at the age of 32

Cass Elliot was an original member of The Mamas & The Papas, The Big Three, & The Mugwumps. Although often maligned in the press for her large size, it was Cass Elliot's larger-than-life personality that endeared her to millionsof fans worldwide. She was the quintessential 1960s earth mother with a powerful voice and an equally powerfulpersonality.

Cass Elliot burst onto the early '60s Greenwich Village folk scene headlining in moderately popular groups such asThe Big Three with Tim Rose and James Hendricks (whom she was married to briefly enabling him to avoid being drafted to service in Vietnam), and the Mugwumps with Zal Yanovsky, James Hendricks and Denny Doherty.

It was Denny who would eventually introduce Cass to John and Michelle Phillips. The four would go on to form the very successful singing group The Mamas & The Papas. After recording four gold albums (the group recorded a commercially unsuccessful fifth album, People Like Us in 1971), seven top-ten singles and a 1966 Grammy Award for best single (Monday, Monday), the group parted ways leaving each one to pursue solo careers. Cass took the break-up in stride as she had always wanted to venture out on her own and become a star independently of her Mamas & Papas fame. And what a star she was.

She recorded six solo albums (3 for the Dunhill label and 3 for the RCA label) and had numerous charting singles. She headlined in Las Vegas, starred in several television specials and even guest hosted the Tonight Show no less than a dozen times. She had a starring role in the feature film version of H.R. Puff 'n Stuff and guest starred on the Scooby Doo Cartoon Hour as the inheritor of a haunted candy factory. A brief musical pairing with Dave Mason produced one album that met with little commercial, but some critical, success.

It was while on a tour in the UK, after having played two sold-out shows at the London Palladium, that Cass Elliot died of a massive heart attack in a London flat owned by Harry Nilsson. She was just 32 years old. Her legacy lives on through her daughter Owen Vannessa, herself a singer and raised by Cass' sister Leah Kunkel.

Her many recordings and other work she has left behind as a testament to her great talent as a singer and entertainer. Her work is still enjoyed by many fans of all ages the world over.

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