And, once again, this is really a smattering. Most “vocal events” in rock and roll history are deep enough and broad enough to warrant their own encyclopedias. The Byrds, Bob Dylan and the Mamas and the Papas, for instance, could each easily sustain a list of this length all by themselves.
–The Mamas and the Papas (Denny Doherty, lead vocal; Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips, harmony vocals): The greatest pure vocal group in folk rock and probably in all of rock and roll, with two fantastic leads (one male, one female) and, because of the unrivaled gender balance, so many ways to approach harmony that my lifetime of listening has never stopped yielding surprises. And their credentials were fully established before they escaped the first line of their first record. (Incidentally, I heard a right wing talk show host play this coming out of a commercial break just the other day. He wanted to make some point about the uselessness of hippies–yes they still do that. He thought this was the song to do it with. Believe me, it was a mistake.)
I was able to “split” St. Louis once, some years later, and take off with friends for a protest march in Washington, DC, where Peter, Paul and Mary performed outdoors. It was a highlight in my life, and a surprise that they were even there. Everything else from that day is in black and white in my memory, except PP&M on stage. It was magical. The year 1966 was a pretty great year for me as far as music goes. I saw The Beatles in August of that year at the “old” (real) Busch Stadium. Never saw The Mamas and The Papas, though, except on T.V.