John Phillips may easily be called one of the best pop songwriters of the later 20th century. He honed his songwriting and arranging skills with singing groups that gained a modicum of success. But his crowning musical achievement was the work he did with his ’60s group the Mamas and the Papas. Photo: MTV
A Lifetime of Debauched and Reckless Behaviour
John Phillips, destructiveness was too extravagant even for Keith Richards, who once kicked Phillips out of his house for being too uncontrollable
Unlike some other musician/addiction profiles, the John Phillips story is not necessarily one with a cheerful ending.
Mackenzie Phillips, his daughter, was 10 years old when her father taught her how to roll a joint. She had her first taste of cocaine at age 11. At 14, she landed a role in the film American Graffiti , and one week after her 18th birthday, she was arrested for the first time.
When she was 10, her dad gave her, her first adult job.
“Dad said, ‘I’m going to give you a project,’ Dad had a job for me! This was exciting. I was in.”
“I got really good at rolling joints. I was the official joint roller for all the adults.”
McKenzie says she was allowed so much freedom as a kid that the only rules her dad gave her were to spend one night a week at home and to always change her clothes before returning in the early morning.
“A lady never wears evening clothes during the day. It’s cheap,” John Phillips, who died in 2001, told her.
He did have one boundary. One day, Mackenzie found a purple pill in her dad’s bedroom.
She instinctively took it. But it turned out not to be just any pill — it was the last of the LSD pills made by the famous drug cook Owsley Stanley, and it was a collector’s item among moneyed celebrity druggies of the time.
“It was as if I’d crashed a normal dad’s Porsche, he said, ‘You took my last hit of Owsley. You’re grounded!’ ”
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