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Papa John

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  263 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
The sensational autobiography. A roller-coaster ride and a cautionary tale.
His songs were hitting the top of the charts but they had to cart him off to jail before he knew he'd hit bottom.
Now John Phillips holds nothing back. With stunning honesty he tells the story of the dizzying ride up and the spiraling skid of addictions that brought the Mamas and the Papas down, br
Hardcover, 444 pages
Published April 16th 1986 by Doubleday
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Sep 09, 2016 Tosh rated it it was ok
There is always a dark presence or cloud in one's area of interest. I love rock n' roll. In fact, I love music. And I love reading musician's memoirs. At the best, they are brilliant with strong characteristic qualities - Jah Wobble, Ray Davies, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Viv Albertine, Oscar Levant, and numerous jazz memoirs. The weak one's are usually written for money - well, more likely all for money, but still, the character comes through and makes it a fascinating read. Unfortunately, John Ph ...more
Dec 14, 2010 Hilary rated it it was ok
I can't decide how I feel about this book. I couldn't put it down, but since I read Makenzie Phillip's book first - I think that Papa John was lying in quite a bit of his book. Maybe lying isn't the right word, but omitting certain facts that Makenzie stated. I don't know why I believe her over him, but I do.

That being said whenever he said he went into recovery/treatment/or getting clean in the book, he always glossed over it. Or said they were sweaty, etc. He never said how detoxing from hero
Carol Storm
Feb 22, 2017 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing
I read this book about fifteen years ago and I didn't think much of it, just because I wasn't much of a Mamas and Papas fan. Looking back, however, it was really amazing. Not only is John Phillips totally honest about the way drugs took over his life (you'll be amazed in medical terms at what the human body can stand) but he's incredibly insightful about his dysfunctional family, his father's alcoholism, and the way addiction can be passed down from generation to generation. And he's also really ...more
Katherine Basto
Oct 18, 2015 Katherine Basto rated it really liked it
What a juicy sordid read! Papa John Phillips, the brains behind the Mamas and the Papas takes the reader through his life, beginning with his origins. His humble start begins in Alexandria, Virginia born to a French Canadian Marine and a Cherokee squaw from Oklahoma. Claude his father becomes an alcoholic who prefers the company of his dogs and bourbon in the basement to being the father his family needed.
After successes with the folk industry, John starts the Journeymen and thus begins his musi
Oct 31, 2011 Derek rated it liked it
Another in my long line of "rock and roll" books. (This one was better than the Joan Baez one, but not as good as the Janis Ian one, for the record.) John Phillips doesn't pull any punches about all the bad choices he's made in his life, and he's made some doozies. From his troubled upbringing to his arrest for trafficking drugs in the mid-1980's, this is John's story, at least as much as he wants to tell you. I got the feeling at times that he was "stretching the truth," and embellishing things ...more
Kelly Paprocki
Jul 27, 2009 Kelly Paprocki rated it did not like it
you can take the drugs out of an asshole but you still are left with an asshole.
name dropping and chemical popping, that's all it offers, besides what a complete 'head up my ass' kind of guy he was. i feel sorry for anyone that had to be involved with this waste, especially his children.

and, yes, i love the music.
Oct 01, 2007 Noel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history
Whether or not you appreciate John Phillips music (writer and member of the Mamas & Papas plus solo projects) it is definitely an interesting account of an era in time and is great for learning lessons about excess. Very easy read too as it is an autobiography written by a dude that did more acid than anyone I've ever heard of. Decently written. My expectations were not very high and I was pleasantly surprised.
Carey Shea
Sep 20, 2012 Carey Shea rated it really liked it
Ok, John Phillips gets the worst father of the century award. Introducing his kids to drugs at such a young age is the worst thing besides being a molester. The later he is not. Thanks to God for that. He writes about the band (Mamma's & Pappa's) and other musicians he hangs with and he hangs with some very famous people. That part is so interesting. The problem is that he is a dope fiend and will do anything to party. This is a worth while book to read. It is un-put-downable.
Jeff Wombold
May 22, 2013 Jeff Wombold rated it really liked it
An interesting story about the life and times of John Phillips. I was amazed by how much of what he was given and achieved was wasted away by his abuse of drugs and alcohol. He was such a musical genius; I like to imagine what he could've achieved if he had stayed straight. He did not have the best of life growing up and I would guess that had much to do with it; I was glad to see he finally straightened his life up.
Feb 12, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ashliegh
Before the DIRT - there was PAPA JOHN. basically the 60's and early 70's version of a man who had nothing, wrote some songs, got everything, and than procedded to drink, drug, schtup it away. also, wierdly started the whole 'confessional' celebrity culture by appearin on Oprah with his daughter to confess his addictions/sins.
May 07, 2010 Vikki rated it it was ok
This is an autobiography of John Phillips. I always loved the Mamas and the Papas. My they were wild! This was written in 1986 so it doesn't tell of his liver transplant and last ten years. They were so wild and horribly into drugs. He was shooting up every ten minutes in the 80s. The drugs had control. I learned a lot. Pretty depressing book, actually.
Jun 05, 2008 Nathaniel rated it it was amazing
The best rock autobiography I have ever read. Papa John invented the outdoor rock festival, wrote the anthem for the Summer of Love, barely missed being slaughtered by Charles Manson and ran a massive drug ring! That's just the beginning! Truly the blueprint to a wreckless/fulfilling life in the music industry.
Nov 15, 2011 Janski rated it really liked it
I had not been a huge fan of the Mamas and Papas, although I liked their music well-enough. The book is interesting for all the information on the time and the group. Like another reviewer said, the man was an a**hole, but the book is fascinating. I read the book about twenty years ago and have recently read MacKenzie Phillips' story, which I thought was honest and brave.

Oct 31, 2007 Ed rated it liked it
self indulgent. I'm currently at the tail end of an obsession with his album wolf king of LA but he barely mentions it in this book. Never cared that much about the mamas and papas. Pretty entertaining but also annoying in his druggy self-justification.
Apr 11, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
Man, did I love The Mamas and the Papas when I was in high school (late 1980s)
Sep 03, 2008 Terri rated it liked it
Shelves: music, memoir, the-1960s
Not bad. I read this when I was really into 60s music. The part about Monterey Pop is especially interesting.
Kelley Nance

This book seriously disturbed me (and I read this AFTER reading Mackenzie's book)!
Jan 03, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
How this man lived as long as he did is a wonder
Arlene Allen
Jul 31, 2010 Arlene Allen rated it liked it
His version of the story.
Jeff Gramm
Dec 12, 2007 Jeff Gramm rated it it was amazing
Dec 11, 2016 Andrea rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and it's a little funny because John Phillips comes off as kind of a sleazeball. Not because of the drugs but because, from the get-go, he seemed to thrive on being a fuck-up. The man seemed to have no real morals. That said, he must have been an extremely charismatic person to have gotten away with so much shit for such a long time. And it made for a fantastic book--hearing about all the people he interacted with, the origins of the Monterrey Pop Festival, and, of cou ...more
Judy Moore
Mar 09, 2017 Judy Moore rated it it was amazing
One of the best biographies I've ever read. It definitely speaks for a generation. You won't be able to put it down.
Tom Schulte
This is a detailed, sordid, and lengthy survey of Phillips' rise with The Mamas and The Papas and descent into drug addiction. Phillips does very little to defend his actions from "fag rolling" (blackmail for queerbashing) as a juvenile to cheating on his pregnant wives including talking one into an illegal abortion where the he believed the feared molestation by the doctor occured. Of interest for music history, we hear the times and contexts for writing "Kokomo", "Go Where You Wanna Go", "Cali ...more
Jun 28, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it
Turns out all the stuff in those songs were true, still who would have thought that Papa John would become one hell of a 70’s junkie. It certainly was a wild ride, and the book captures that quite well. Even reaching back to the pre-Elvis and pre- Beatles era, abortion era 50’s and early 60’s culture. Not as bleak as Chuck Negron’s or Jimmy Greenspoon’s tales of addiction…but an engrossingly good story- even if much of them seem like PG versions of the events.
Heather G
Apr 05, 2014 Heather G rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I was mesmorized, horrified, doubtful and absolutely entranced for more than 400 pages. What a life outside anything I will ever experience. Would llike to read Mackenzie or Michelle's version for a different perspective.
Shirley rated it liked it
Dec 18, 2016
Kelly rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2012
Vicki Scotti
Vicki Scotti rated it it was amazing
Feb 01, 2013
Dara S.
Dara S. rated it really liked it
Jan 14, 2010
Kathleen rated it liked it
May 11, 2012
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John Phillips, born John Edmund Andrew Phillips, was an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Known as Papa John, Phillips was a member and leader of the singing group The Mamas & the Papas. He is the husband of band mate Michelle Phillips and the father of Jeffrey Phillips, Mackenzie Phillips, Chynna Phillips, Tamerlane Phillips, and Bijou Phillips.
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