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Eve of Destruction | California Dreamin'
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California Dreamin'

     Story behind the photo: The Mamas and The Papas were in the studio with Barry McGuire, singing backup on a song for one of Barry's albums (Barry thinks the song was probably "Hang On Sloopy"). While they were recording the song, a guy named John Antler came into the recording booth. With him was the new Miss Teen USA, whom Antler was escorting to various places. Mr. Antler began tapping Lou on the shoulder, trying to shout over the music to get Adler's attention, saying, "Antler! John Antler!" Lou couldn't really hear what the guy was saying, and thought that he was mispronouncing Lou's name. So Lou shouts back at the guy, "It's Adler! Lou Adler!" Then the song ended and the guy shook Lou's hand and said, "Antler. John Antler." Lou got on the intercom and told Barry and The Mamas and The Papas what had just taken place, and they all cracked up. It was at that very moment that someone took the photo seen above.

     After the release of Barry’s first Dunhill album, some of Barry’s old friends from New York migrated to California. Barry had met John Phillips in 1962, and whenever he was in New York with the Christys, he used to go to the Earl Hotel in Greenwich Village where Phillips and Roger McGuinn were both living and join in on jam sessions with them and other folk musicians. Barry had also met John’s wife Michelle and Denny Doherty (who, with John, made up the group The New Journeymen), along with Cass Elliot (who had been in The Mugwumps with Denny, John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky). By now, John, Michelle, Denny and Cass were calling themselves The Mamas and The Papas, and they were looking for a place to record.

     Denny Doherty remembers it this way: “Cass calls up McGuire who's got Eve of Destruction on the charts, a huge hit, and is in the middle of recording another album. He comes over to the apartment, gives a listen; ‘Yeah, man sure, you guys sound really good. Look why don't you come down and sing for my producer Lou Adler.’ So, there we are at Western Recorders, Lou Adler in the booth. We sing him California Dreamin' and this voice comes out of talkback: ‘You got any more?’ Got any more! Sure we got more! We sang him everything we had. We sang him ‘Straight Shooter,’ ‘Monday, Monday,’ ‘Go Where You Want To Go.’ And this voice from the booth just kept asking for more. ‘What else you got? What else you got?’ Finally Cass says: ‘That's all we got. What do you think?’ And he says: ‘I think we can do business.’” Barry adds, “Lou heard them sing, and he thought Michelle was cute. That was his main comment after hearing them sing: ‘Who’s the blonde?’ But he did like their sound and they sang backup on my second album for me. They told me that that’s where they actually found their counterpoint. That’s when their sound really came together, singing backup for me."
Originally, "California Dreamin'" was going to be Barry’s second single from This Precious Time. Barry says that while they were recording his version, “it just really came together for them, and John asked me if they could release it as their first single rather than my second one, and I said, ‘Sure, John, it's your tune, man, you wrote it.’ So, they just took my voice off of it, put Denny's voice on it, put a flute on it, and that was their first megasong.”

So in place of “California Dreamin’,” Dunhill released “Child of Our Times” (with “Upon a Painted Ocean” as the B-side) as Barry’s second single from the album. The third single was the title track, “This Precious Time.” All three songs were great compositions by Phil Sloan, and are three of Barry’s best performances. Yet, none of these songs did well in the charts. The album, released December 14th, 1965, also charted poorly, despite the fine sound created between Barry and The Mamas and The Papas. Besides the Sloan songs on this album, there are some great covers, like the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Do You Believe in Magic?” and The Beatles’ “Yesterday” and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” It was obvious that the DJs and playlist controllers were having their revenge for the way “Eve of Destruction” had become a hit without their involvement.

     The Mamas and The Papas also sang backup on Barry’s next album, World’s Last Private Citizen, released in 1967. Band members from Paul Revere and the Raiders also played on this LP. The songs ranged from repeats from the previous album, like “Hang On Sloopy” to the hippy anthem “The Grasshopper Song” and the psychedelic-folk tune “Inner-Manipulations” (co-written by McGuire and fellow former Christy member, Paul Potash). Private Citizen also contained Travis Edmonson’s composition, “Cloudy Summer Afternoon,” which featured a New Orleans style horn section and honky tonk piano. But despite this single’s greater accessibility than the more esoteric tunes from the album, it charted down at #62 in Billboard and #85 in Cash Box. Barry comments, “That was a great tune. See, I thought it was gonna go all the way. It was a ton of fun, it had a great groove, but - nothin’. So something was goin’ on out there. They just stonewalled what I was doin’.”

     In June, 1967, the Monterey Pop Festival took place, organized mainly by John Phillips. Many people have wondered why Barry McGuire wasn't there, seeing as he was so tight with The Mamas and the Papas. Turns out, Barry was engaged in a much more exciting experience: the birth of his daughter, Ever. Patty Wilson, formerly married to Ramblin' Jack Elliott, is Ever's mother. She and Barry had met at the Hungry i, and were together for three years. 1967 also saw Barry’s entrance into acting. He appeared as “Old Wrangler” in The President’s Analyst. Barry says he didn’t really do any real acting in that role, as the character was pretty much like him: a hippy rock musician. Severn Darden, who plays the Russian spy, Kropotkin, in the movie got McGuire the role. Barry had a contract with Paramount that had to be fulfilled. Barry says, “Paramount had already taken two extensions. It was a pay-or-play contract, so they had to use me in something. Severn read the script and told them, ‘I know this guy, he lives out in Topanga.’ And I knew James Coburn. He made it really great for me. He was a real gentleman with me, ‘cause I was out of my element. He did his lines and then - usually the star leaves and you do your lines with the script girl. But he stayed so I could do my lines working with him, and he was really super to work with.” In the film, Barry performs “Inner-Manipulations” while kicking back on a bunch of cushions in a field. Unfortunately, when Paramount released the home video version of The President’s Analyst, they cut out Barry’s song and replaced it with a song by the group America - a song not even in existence when the movie was originally released. Whatever their reason$ for cutting Barry’s performance of this song, Paramount stripped the movie of one of its best scenes by doing so.

     World’s Last Private Citizen was Barry’s last Dunhill album. Lou Adler sold the label, and the new owners didn't seem to want to keep Barry on. So, after filming The President’s Analyst, Barry dropped out of sight for a time. He went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for about a year and lived in a commune of sorts. “It didn’t work, because nobody took out the trash, and everybody smoked dope and strung beads, and pretty soon you’re up to your eyeballs in garbage; and so it’s just easier to leave than it is to try and clean the place up."

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