According to Hollywood gossip columnist Marilyn Beck, "Papa" John Phillips and "Mama" Michelle Phillips were the king and queen of the new Hollywood social order that coalesced in the late 1960s and included Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, music and film producer-director Lou Adler and just about every "hip" and very-successful Hollywood player then under the age of 40.
In his 1967 hit song "Creeque Alley" (with The Mamas and the Papas), the lyrics mention music contemporaries such as, Michelle Phillips (Mitchy), 'Mama' Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty, John Sebastian, Zal Yanovsky, Barry McGuire and Roger McGuinn.
Three of his five children followed him into entertainment: oldest daughter Mackenzie Phillips with first wife Susan Adams, as an actress in films like American Graffiti (1973), and the TV series "One Day at a Time" (1975) and "So Weird" (1999). Daughter Chynna Phillips with second wife Michelle Phillips was founding member of pop band Wilson Phillips along with two of The Beach Boys Brian Wilson's daughters and is now married to actor William Baldwin, and finally, Bijou Phillips, his daughter with third wife, Geneviève Waïte, has put out a CD, modeled and appeared in critically acclaimed films such as Black and White (1999/I).
In his autobiography, Papa John (1986) he described in graphic and sometimes disturbing detail, his lifelong battle with booze and just about every drug under the sun. He summarizes a family history of substance abuse but with a wry humor and is merciless in describing his own failings as a father, a husband and human being while under the thumb of cocaine, heroin and finally (again) booze. Along the way, the book also throws open a view onto the debauchery of the music biz circa the late 60s and into the 70s and contrasts that with the hopefulness of the Folk Movement of the early 60s.
He received a liver transplant in 1992 after years of abusing alcohol and illegal drugs had taken their toll.