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On July 29th, 1974 the world awoke without Cass Elliot in it for the first time in 32 years. She’d died in the wee hours of the morning and was found in bed at a London flat belonging to singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, the victim of heart failure; by the time the rest of the world had woken up that morning, news outlets were flooded with the news of Elliot’s untimely death at the age of 32 with reports coming in from all over the world, each one summarizing Cass’ brief life and meteoric rise to fame as a member of The Mamas and the Papas and an accomplished solo artist.
The night before her death was as normal as a night in the life of Cass Elliot got. She’d closed out a two week run at the London Palladium, giving an absolutely stunning solo performance that night before exiting the stage to the roar of a standing ovation. An international phone call to Mamas and Papas’ Michelle Phillips marked the last time she spoke with her friend, by Phillips’ account sounding “elated that she had received standing ovations each night.” Cass headed over to the home of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger for a party, remarking to actress Debbie Reynolds as she left that she was going back to Harry Nilsson’s flat at 9 Curzon Place, returning home alone and retiring for the last time, ultimately succumbing to heart failure in her sleep.
And just like that, one of the era’s biggest voices and brightest stars was gone.
Equal parts sweetness, great humor and an unbelievable talent, Mama Cass brought an element of magic to all that she did – one that floated you away from the rigors of daily life and into something far more soft, hazy, and joyous. 43 years on, both she and the magic she brought to the world are fiercely missed.