The Mamas and Papas have some of my favorite vocals ever, but they had a short career with only several albums mostly consisting of cover songs. They had poor production values and there was tension in the group, so the Mamas and Papas ended in the late 1960s and came back to make one more album in the early 1970s.
In 1968, Mama Cass, the lead vocalist for the Mamas and Papas, made a song called Dream a Little Dream of me that inspired Mama Cass to set out on her own solo career. Also, the newer Mama and Papas songs were not charting well because the Beatles were leading rock and roll in a direction that the Mamas and Papas could not follow.
Dunhill Records required Mamas and Papas to come back and make one more album in 1971. If the Mamas and Papas did not make their final album due to contractual obligations Dunhill would sue each of them for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The Mamas and Papas were rarely all together to make the final album called People Like Us, so they used a lot of dubbing to get it done. People Like Us was the only album by the Mamas and Papas not to chart in the top twenty in the US.
There were some tensions in the band that could’ve helped lead to their disbanding. The Mamas and Papas stayed at a hotel in Britain in 1968 and set out to do some touring at places like the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall. However, Mama Cass was brought back to Britain because a companion of Mama Cass’ named Pic Dawson was suspected of drug trafficking. Mama Cass was put in prison for not paying her hotel bill and questioned about Pic Dawson but acquitted. The Mamas and Papas had a party for Mama Cass getting out of prison and Mama Cass was telling Mick Jagger her story when John Phillips said that Mama Cass was telling the story wrong and Mama Cass yelled at him. This led to the Mamas and Papas parting ways for the first time. However, Mama Cass and John Phillips were able to reconcile, so that they could finish making their album called Papas and Mamas, the inverse of their band name because they had already named their second album after their band name.
Another story that might explain the break up of the Mamas and Papas was that Michelle Philips cheated on her husband, John Phillips, with Denny Doherty, who was dating Cass. All four people invovled in the affair were members of the Mamas and Papas. However, the affair happened early in the career, and they were able to reconcile their differences.
Many people feel that the band came to an end because of primarily conflicts between group members, but I think it was because of just becoming irrelevant. The Mamas and Papas could reconcile their differences, but they were not able to keep up with the changing times. With the success of Dream a Little Dream of Me by Mama Cass alone it became apparent that the Mamas and Papas would be more successful with each member having their own solo career.