Thanks to Longreads we recently came across this Guardian reprint of a fascinating 1967 piece written by Danny Fields for the now-defunct rock magazine Hullabaloo, outlining a series of encounters between Andy Warhol and singer “Mama” Cass Elliot of The Mamas and the Papas and other seminal acts.
In a few fleeting scenes Fields charts the ill-starred professional relationship between Elliot and Warhol, stemming from a screen test Elliot did for a movie Warhol never made. Tantalizing hints emerge of the film that might have been (Warhol’s idea was to call it The New Beauty) and of both figures’ mutual appreciation of each other’s work, but what stands out is Fields’s atmospheric, journalistic portrait of the 1960s avant-garde scenes of Los Angeles and New York. Of Elliot’s first visit to Warhol’s Factory, Fields writes:
“The Mamas & the Papas arrive at the Factory together, while the small crowd gathered there is looking at the first screening of a movie made by Andy earlier that week. Cass, John, Denny and Jill [Gibson, the interim Mama, remember her?] walk from the doorway to the screening area. As they move down the length of the vast tinfoil-coated room, no one rises to greet them, no one even makes a gesture to acknowledge their presence. This is not rudeness – just Factory cool in action, or non-action.”
For more on Elliot and Warhol, check out this New York Times coverage of the ongoing efforts to digitize much of Warhol’s film work, and for good measure, here’s a video of Elliot’s 1969 appearance on The Johnny Cash Show, with lots of music—including a duet with Johnny Cash on a medley of popular hits (“Gentle on My Mind,” for example)!