Rockapaedia Obituaries

Denny Doherty

Band: The Mamas & the Papas

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Denny Doherty died aged sixty-six at his homphoto of Denny Dohertye in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada on 19th January 2007, from kidney failure following surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He is interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.
Denny was born in Nova Scotia, Canada on November 29th 1940. He began his musical career there in 1956 with a band called the Hepsters, featuring his three friends Richard Sheehan, Eddie Thibodeau and Mike O'Connell. The group played at a number of clubs in the Halifax area and according to Sheehan they drew crowds wherever they went due to Denny's incredible voice. Two years later, they disbanded and then in 1960, still in their hometown, Denny Doherty at the age of nineteen, along with Pat LaCroix and Richard Byrne, began a folk group called The Colonials. Columbia Records signed the group several months later, upon which time they changed their name to The Halifax III. The band recorded two LPs and had a minor hit, "The Man Who Wouldn't Sing Along With Mitch", but broke up in 1963.
In 1963, Denny Doherty established a friendship with Cass Elliot when she was with a band called "The Big 3". While on tour with "The Halifax III", Denny Doherty met John Phillips and his new wife, model Michelle Gilliam.
A few months later, The Halifax III dissolved, and Denny Doherty and their accompanist, Zal Yanovsky, were left broke in Hollywood. Cass Elliot heard of their troubles and convinced her manager to hire them. Thus, Denny Doherty and Yanovsky joined the Big 3 , increasing the number of band members to four. Soon after adding even more band members, they changed their name to the "Mugwumps"who soon broke up also due to insolvency after which Yanovsky went on to form The Lovin' Spoonful with John Sebastian.
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. Denny Doherty, then unemployed, filled the opening. After the New Journeymen called it quits as a band in early 1965, Cass 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, Denny Doherty and Michelle Phillips started an affair. They were able to keep it secret during the early days of the band's new-found success.
When the affair was discovered, John and Michelle Phillips moved to their own residence (they had been sharing a house with Doherty), and the band continued recording together. Eventually the group signed a statement in June 1966 with their record label's full support, firing Michelle from 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.
Due to fan demand, Michelle Phillips was allowed to rejoin the band in August 1966, while Gibson was given a lump sum for her efforts. The band completed their second album, titled simply, 'The Mamas and the Papas' by re-recording, replacing, or overlaying new vocal parts by Michelle Phillips over Jill Gibson's studio vocals.
After a continuing string of hit singles, many television appearances, including a notable and critically well-received TV special featuring the music of Rodgers and Hart, a successful third studio album 'The Mamas and the Papas Deliver' in March 1967), and the groundbreaking sociological impact of the Monterey International Pop Festival, which had been organized by John Phillips and Lou Adler, in June 1967, an ill-fated tripicture of Denny Dohertyp to England in October 1967 fragmented the already damaged group dynamic. Cass Elliot quit, after a stinging insult from John Phillips, although she returned to complete her parts for the group's overdue fourth album.. By then, Michelle Phillips had given birth to Chynna Phillips and a formal statement had been released, announcing the group's demise.
Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty remained friends after the band's break-up, while Cass had a hit solo show. She eventually asked Denny Doherty to marry her, but he declined. He released a few solo LPs and singles during this period, two of note being 1971's 'Watcha Gonna Do'? and 1974's 'Waiting for a Song', the latter of which went unreleased in the US. Featuring both Michelle and Cass on background vocals, the recordings would be Cass Elliot's last, as she died after a sold-out run in London a few months later after the record was finished. Denny Doherty was stunned and saddened to hear about her death in 1974 at age 32. He attended her funeral several days later in early August along with the Phillipses.
In 1982, Denny Doherty joined a reconstitution of The Mamas & the Papas consisting of John Phillips, his daughter Mackenzie Phillips, and Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane.

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song: "I'm Home Again", by Denny Doherty