The Mamas and the Papas are a pop vocal group of the 1960s. The group recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968 with a short reunion in 1971, releasing five albums and 11 Top 40 hit singles. They have sold nearly 40 million records worldwide.
Their signature sound was based on four-part male/female vocal harmonies arranged by John Phillips, the band's songwriter. After the split-up of their two previous folk groups, The Mugwumps and The New Journeymen, bandmates Denny Doherty and John Phillips formed a new group, which included John's wife Michelle. The last member to join was Cass Elliot.
After briefly being known as The Magic Cyrcle, the group found they disliked the name. One night, the band watched the Hells Angels on a television talk show; one of their members said "Now hold on there, Hoss. Some people call our women cheap, but we just call them our Mamas." Cass stood up and said, "Yeah! I want to be a Mama!" Michelle joined Cass; they danced around, chanting "We're the Mamas! We're the Mamas!" After a couple of minutes of this, John and Denny looked at each other and shrugged. "The Papas?" From then, shortly after signing a five-album contract with Dunhill Records, they referred to themselves as The Mamas and The Papas.