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September 29, 2013

Sept. 29, 2013: Letters to the editor

There’s a place called Kokomo, somewhere

A recent Tribune article talked about the use of “Kokomo” in songs and movies. The Beach Boys’ 1988 song, “Kokomo,” was cited, but the song is about beaches and Kokomo is landlocked. So it was wondered what the song was talking about. Why put Kokomo in the Florida Keys? Would a rational mind do this?

The writers were quite an assortment of talent. Probably the main writer, John Phillips, was a principal member of the 1960s rock group The Mamas & the Papas, and with Michelle Phillips, his wife at the time (he was married four times) wrote many of that group’s songs.

His talent was undeniable, but he was a drug abuser who almost lost a leg to infection, and his abuse brought him to a point where he had difficulty finding a fresh place anywhere on his body where he could inject himself. Also an abuser of alcohol, he had a liver transplant, shortly after which he was seen drinking in a bar. When asked about it, he replied he was just breaking in his new liver!

Scott McKenzie helped on the song. He was the singer of “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” which John Phillips wrote about the 1967 “summer of love.” Phillips helped McKenzie get his stage name. It came from Phillips’ daughter, Laura Mackenzie Phillips, who later accused her father of having an incestuous relationship with her. When she became pregnant, it wasn’t clear by whom, Phillips paid for her to have an abortion.

Terry Melcher, another co-writer, was the son of Doris Day and a music producer who saw some promise, at least for a while, in the music of ... Charles Manson, who became known for things other than his music.

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