California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas

First Second

Mar 15, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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Any book with such a niche subject must be a true labor of love for its author. And while much of the graphic novel California Dreamin' focuses on the pre-fame life of singer Cass Elliot, better known as Mama Cass of '60s pop hitmakers The Mamas & the Papas, the narrative's breadth encompasses more than Elliott's formative days may suggest.

The book's context takes shape in its prologue, with a radio DJ interviewing Mamas & the Papas fans and finding how they favor Elliot for a number of reasons, including her voice, her humor, and her self-confidence. From there, author Pénélope Bagieu offers a window into a post-WWII Jewish upbringing for an overweight girl whose outsized personality and obvious vocal talent make her seem destined for something bigger. 

Fans of Elliot will enjoy this sketch of her transition through the folk trio The Big 3 to the more rock-oriented Mugwumps and beyond, and when fame finally dawns it demands a second edition to Elliot's story. (

Author rating: 6.5/10

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