Denny Doherty

Denny Doherty (Dennis Gerard Stephen). Singer, actor, songwriter, b Halifax, NS, 29 Nov 1940, d Mississauga, Ont, 19 Jan 2007.

Doherty, Denny

Denny Doherty (Dennis Gerard Stephen). Singer, actor, songwriter, b Halifax, NS, 29 Nov 1940, d Mississauga, Ont, 19 Jan 2007. Denny Doherty began his career at 15 with the Halifax dance band of Peter Power, and then sang with a succession of pop-folk groups - the Hepsters, the Colonials, and the Halifax Three. The latter (which at one time included Toronto guitarist Zal Yanovsky, later of the Lovin' Spoonful) made the LP San Francisco Bay Blues (1963, Epic BN-26060) and performed in eastern Canada and in the US. Denny Doherty sang in New York in the Big Three (with Cass Elliott and Tim Rose) and in 1964 in the seminal folk-rock group The Mugwumps (with Elliott, Yanovsky, and James Hendricks).

With a voice described as a "mellow tenor," Denny Doherty was a lead singer and songwriter of The Mamas and the Papas in Los Angeles, 1965-8. The most popular vocal group of its day, the Mamas and the Papas comprised Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, and John and Michelle Phillips. The quartet had several hit singles ('California Dreaming,' 'Monday, Monday,' 'I Saw Her Again,' and others) and made five LPs for ABC/Dunhill. Doherty co-wrote several hit songs with John Phillips, including 'I Saw Her Again' and 'Got a Feelin'.

The Mamas and the Papas re-formed briefly in 1971. Denny Doherty then pursued a solo recording career (Watcha Gonna Do? 1972, ABC/Dunhill S-50096) and acted off-Broadway before returning in 1977 to Nova Scotia. He sang at the 1977 and 1978 Atlantic Folk Festivals, was host for CBC Halifax TV's 'Denny's Sho' in the summer of 1978, and then took dramatic roles at the Neptune Theatre. In 1980, with John Phillips, Phillips's daughter MacKenzie, and Spanky McFarlane, he re-formed The Mamas and the Papas, touring internationally until 1986, by which time he had moved to Toronto. There he was seen in 1988 in Fire, a gospel-rock musical by the Canadians Paul Ledoux and David Young.

Throughout the 1990s Denny Doherty continued to develop his acting career on both stage and television, taking roles in several CBC television productions. These included most notably the harbour master on the children's program "Theodore Tugboat" (1993-2000), and "Pit Pony" (1997). Doherty performed as narrator and principal storyteller in the Celtic-Canadian musical Needfire (premiered Toronto 1998), and co-wrote and produced, with Paul Ledoux, the musical Dream A Little Dream: The nearly true story of The Mamas and The Papas, which premiered in Halifax in 1998 and had runs in Toronto and New York. In 1996 Doherty was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and in 1998 The Mamas and The Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Further Reading

  • Stambler, Irwin. 'The Mamas and the Papas,' Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul (New York 1976)

    Kimber, Stephen. 'Denny's back in town,' The Canadian, 3 Jun 1978

    Flohil, Richard. "Denny Doherty; On the road and busier than ever," The Record, 11 Mar 1996