- 66 years old
- Born Nov 29, 1940
- Died Jan 19, 2007
- London, United Kingdom
Born November 29, 1940 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Denny started his musical career in 1956 in Halifax with a band called the Hepsters. With friends Richard Sheehan, Eddie Thibodeau and Mike O'Connell they played at social clubs in and around Halifax. They were together for about 2 years. Sheehan recalls they drew crowds wherever they went due to Denny's incredible voice. In 1960, aged 19, Doherty cofounded a folk group called The Colonials in Montreal, Quebec. When they got a record deal with Columbia Records, they changed their name to The Halifax Three. They had a minor hit, "The Man Who Wouldn't Sing Along With Mitch" ; but ultimately broke up in 1963. Ironically, they broke up at a hotel called "The Colonial".
In 1963, Doherty established a friendship with Cass Elliot when she was with a band called "The Big Three". While on tour with "The Halifax Three," Doherty met John Phillips and his new wife, model Michelle Gilliam.
A few months later, Doherty's band broke up and he and his accompanist, Zal Yanovsky, were broke in New York City. Elliot heard of their troubles and convinced her manager to hire them. So he and Yanovsky joined the Big Three (increasing the number of band members to four). Soon after adding even more band members, they changed their name to "The Mugwumps." They soon broke up also due to insolvency. The Mamas & Papas song "Creeque Alley" briefly outlines this history.
About this time, John Phillips' new band, "The New Journeymen," needed a replacement for tenor Marshall Brickman. Brickman had left the folk trio to pursue a career in television writing, and the group needed a quick replacement for their remaining tour dates. Doherty, then unemployed, filled the opening. After the New Journeymen called it quits as a band in early 1965, Elliot was invited into the formation of a new band, which became "The Magic Cyrcle". Six months later in September 1965, the group signed a recording contract with Dunhill Records. Changing their name to The Mamas & the Papas, the band soon began to record their debut album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears.
In late 1965, Doherty and Michelle Phillips started an affair. They were able to keep it secret for a long time, while the band enjoyed their new-found success.
Eventually their dalliances were discovered. John and Michelle moved out to their own place (they had been sharing a house with Doherty), but the band kept recording together. Eventually the band signed a statement in June 1966 with their record label's full support, kicking Michelle out of the band. She was quickly replaced by Jill Gibson, girlfriend of the band's producer Lou Adler. Gibson's stint as a "Mama" lasted two and a half months and during this period, Doherty drank heavily trying to get over Michelle.
Due to some fan demand and mostly to John, Michelle was allowed to rejoin the band in late August of 1966, while Gibson was given a lump sum for her efforts. However, by the time of Michelle's return, the band had lost focus, momentum and direction. While trying to create another album, Elliot left the group, bringing about the end of The Mamas & the Papas. The band finally broke up in the summer of 1968.
Elliot and Doherty remained friends. Doherty continued trying to drink the memory of Michelle out of his life. Hot on the heels of the band's break-up, Elliot had a hit solo show. She eventually asked Doherty to marry her, but he declined. Doherty was stunned and saddened to hear of Elliot's passing in 1974 at age 32. He and the other former members of the band attended her funeral.
In 1982, Doherty joined a reconstitution of the Mamas and the Papas consisting of John Phillips, his daughter Mackenzie Phillips and Elaine Spanky McFarlane, which toured and performed old standards and new tunes written by John Phillips.
Doherty produced a Broadway show called Dream a Little Dream which was a narrative of his perspective of the story of The Mamas & the Papas. It was well received and garnered favorable reviews.
In 1993, Doherty took on not just the VO role of the Harbour Master but all the VO roles in Theodore Tugboat, a children's television show chronicling the "lives" of vessels in a busy harbour loosely based upon Halifax Harbour.
Denny Doherty died on January 19, 2007 at his home in Mississauga, Ontario, from kidney failure following surgery on an abdominal aneurysm.
Doherty had three children: a daughter, Jessica Woods, from a brief first marriage, and a daughter, Emberly, and son, John, by his 20-year marriage to his second wife, Jeannette, who died in 1998.