Earth Mother of Hippiedom
July 29, 1974 - Cass Elliot died on this day. She was only 32 years old.
She is most remembered as Mama Cass, the powerful voice that dominates many of the hits sung by the sixties pop quartet, The Mamas & the Papas. Cass joined the band while on vacation in the Virgin Islands. She famously claimed that a freak accident caused her vocal range to improve by three notes. In a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Cass explained how some workmen dropped a copper tube on her head and knocked her to the ground.
I had a concussion and went to the hospital. I had a bad headache for about two weeks and all of a sudden I was singing higher. It's true. Honest to God.
Whether or not the pipe story is true, The Mamas & the Papas went on to have huge success with hits like "California Dreamin," "Monday Monday" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me."
The band officially called it quits in 1971, but Cass had already established a very lucrative solo career. She played Vegas and made the rounds on all the TV variety shows of the era.
She had just finished 2 weeks of sold out shows at the London Palladium when she died in her sleep of a heart attack. False rumors still persist that she choked to death on a ham sandwich, but the coroner confirmed that no food was found in her trachea.
Ironically, the same flat where Cass Elliot died would host the death of another music legend 4 years later. Keith Moon, the dynamic drummer for The Who, died of an overdose in the same apartment in September of 1978.