Mama Cass Elliot - Ellen Naomi Cohen
09/19/1941 - 07/29/1974
We Will Always Remember
"When you're Extraordinary, you've got to do extraordinary things..." The song comes from the Broadway smash "Pippin," and Earl Brown's special lyrics for Cass tell it like she is...EXTRAORDINARY. Before taping her hit CBS Special, "Don't Call Me Mama Anymore," Cass took the songs to the audiences at Chicago's famed Mister Kelly's to see if everything worked. And to say that everything did work is an understatement. As she belted song after song, the crowd saw the emergence of one of today's best female singers and performers. The fact that Cass is a dynamite lady singer is evidenced by all the Gold Records already hanging in the bathroom of her Hollywood Hills home, but this album establishes Cass Elliot as a major star in not only voice...but personality. It's a fact that "you have to have been there" to sing the blues the way Cass does her Torch Medley. She's been a lot of good places, too...and you can hear it in I Like What I Like. As you listen to this album, you'll find that Cass Elliot is a very nice way to fill a room.
"When you're on stage, you gotta do it. People pay to see you, and they deserve to be entertained and you should go out there and really give it your best shot. And that's quite a challenge. You have a new audience for every show. Even though you do the same thing all the time, you gotta keep it fresh for yourself and you gotta keep it good and interesting and something you want to do. I'm anxious to have a really terrific act. Whatever it takes it takes."
--Cass Elliot, Spring 1973
Cass Elliot first put these words into action at age 7 with "Don't Fence Me In" at the Baltimore Hippodrome. Later, her role in a summer stock production of The Boyfriend hastened her decision to drop out of high school two weeks before graduation in 1960, and head to New York. Competing in the bigtime juxtaposed a range of experiences: from vying with Barbra Streisand for a part in Broadway's I Can Get It For You Wholesale, to working as a coat check girl at The Showplace, to travelling in a company of The Music Man.
With little success in this sphere, however, Elliot found herself performing as one-third of the Greenwich Village folk trio, The Big 3 and then as part of The Mugwumps, an anachonistic folk-rock group. But in 1965 it happened, when she skyrocketed as "Mama Cass," the vocal powerhouse of the sixties supergroup:The Mamas and The Papas. When this successful role came to an end in 1968, Elliot resumed her solo musical career; this time, with more success.
Cass swiftly became a welcome fixture on television and had her own prime-time special in 1969. She recorded seven albums and fourteen singles from 1968-1973 and collaborated with Dave Mason, Stephen Stills and The Electric Flag. She also appeared in the 1970 children's mod-fantasy film Pufnstuf and recorded film themes. One of these, the theme from the 1973 Andy Warhol/Paul Morrissey film L'Amour, debuts in this recording.
In 1971 Elliot linked with RCA Records, and she put out two albums within eight months the following year. Managed by Allan Carr and working with a coterie of Las Vegas Connoisseurs in 1973, she created a first-rate club act with which she enjoyed a successful run at The Flamingo in Las Vegas, and at a series of tony nightclubs.
Thus she landed at the exclusive Mister Kelly's. It was at this intimate and premiere Chicago venue, during the summer of 1973, that she recorded what would become her last album: Don't Call Me Mama Anymore. Cass had mixed emotions about recording the show. She mused, unwittingly, a few weeks before her appearances, "This whole thing about doing a live album I have been against. I think there's nothing more BORING than a live album unless you're somebody REALLY special. I think if you're really important - if you're Marlene Dietrich and you make one performance a year then you record it. No matter what she sings, no matter whether she falls you, you record it because you just don't know when she's going to do another one." The poignant paradox of Cass' statement would be realized just a year later at her untimely death.
-Taken from the Album lining of Don't Call Me Mama Anymore
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