|Origin||Greenwich Village, New York City|
John Phillips and Scott McKenzie (born Philip Blondheim) were childhood friends and had sung together in various groups, including the Abstracts and the Smoothies, during the 1950s. By early 1961, they were singing in clubs in Greenwich Village, New York City, alongside singer, songwriter and banjo player Dick Weissman. As a trio, The Journeymen began performing together in Gerdes Folk City nightclub, and soon won a five-month residency there. Their manager, Frank Werber, who also managed the Kingston Trio, won them a contract with Capitol Records, and they soon recorded their first self-titled LP, comprising traditional songs and two written by Phillips.
Phillips turned down Werber's suggestion that he join the Kingston Trio after Dave Guard left, and continued to work with McKenzie and Weissman. The group's virtuosity in singing – with McKenzie usually taking the lead – performing, arranging and, increasingly, writing their own material, won them a following. They recorded their second album, Coming Attraction - Live!, at a show in Minneapolis. They also released several singles on Capitol. According to Bruce Eder at Allmusic, "the Journeymen engaged in piercing, topical humor, which gave their act an edge that was decidedly early '60s rather than late 1950s."
They had some success with a single, "River Come Down", written by Phillips and Weissman, and continued to perform together in 1962, though the record company started to lose interest, and McKenzie increasingly suffered from mental health issues. The trio recorded a third album, New Directions In Folk Music, with most of the songs written by the group. However, McKenzie's problems worsened and his friendship with Phillips deteriorated. In 1963, Phillips married Michelle Gilliam, and the group began to fall apart, a process exacerbated by the "British Invasion" which made their style of music less fashionable. The trio finally split up in early 1964.
For a time, Phillips then worked with his wife Michelle and banjoist Marshall Brickman as The New Journeymen. When Brickman decided to leave, he was replaced by Denny Doherty. In 1965, John and Michelle Phillips, with Doherty and Cass Elliot, formed The Mamas and the Papas, to great success in the mid and late 1960s. John Phillips also wrote and co-produced McKenzie's 1967 global hit, "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)". Weissman continued to record, as a virtuoso banjoist, singer, songwriter and musicologist.
John Phillips died in 2001, and Scott McKenzie in 2012.