In Memoriam: John Phillips (3)

From The Los Angeles Times,
Thursday, March 29, 2001

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The event, which was open to the public at no charge, began with film footage of the Mamas and the Papas at their '60s peak and ended with an all-star performance of the folk-rock band's signature hit, "California Dreamin'." In between, a parade of many key names in the California folk-rock movement offered anecdotes and musical tributes to Phillips through many of his best-known songs and several of their own.

"It's an unbelievable night," Phillips' oldest daughter, actress-singer Mackenzie Phillips, said offstage after the show ended near midnight. "We didn't know what kind of turnout we would have."

In keeping with the spirit of John Phillips' own freewheeling life, participants acknowledged his estimable musical contributions as a songwriter and vocal arranger as well as the tumultuous lifestyle that led to a nasty breakup with his wife, the Mamas and the Papas' Michelle Phillips, and his struggles with alcohol and drugs. He had received a liver transplant in 1992.

"The reactions I heard a lot when he died were, 'Oh, no' and, 'I can't believe he lasted this long,' " singer-songwriter John Stewart said after the tribute.