Doherty, Canadian singer in the Mamas and the Papas, dies

Halifax-born singer-songwriter Denny Doherty, who achieved his greatest fame as a member of the Mamas and the Papas folk group in the 1960s, has died.

Halifax-born singer-songwriter Denny Doherty, who achieved his greatest fame as a member of the Mamas and the Papas folk group in the 1960s, has died.

The pop group the Mamas and the Papas pose outside a hotel in London, England, in this Oct. 6, 1967, photo. The four members are, left to right, Denny Doherty, Cassandra Elliot, Michelle Phillips, and John Phillips. ((Canadian Press) )

His sister, Frances Arnold, saidDoherty died at his home in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday after a short illness. He was 66.

In addition to his singing career, Doherty is known for playing the harbourmaster on the Halifax children's TV series Theodore Tugboat.

Doherty was a veteran of the folk scenewhen he joined the Mamas and the Papas, known for their haunting harmonies.

Formed in 1965

The group formed in 1965, merging the talents of John Phillips, formerly of the Journeymen, Cass Elliot, Michelle Phillips and Doherty.

They had a string of hits such as Monday, Monday, California Dreamin' and Dedicated to the One I Love and are closely associated with the California-based hippie lifestyle of the mid-1960s.

The Mamas and thePapas were inducted into the Rockand Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and Doherty is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

"Denny will be missed," said John Dalton, a former CBC Radio producer in Halifax, whoworked with Doherty several times over the years.

Doherty worked with Dalton onthe production of Dream a Little Dream,billed as the nearly true story of the Mamas and the Papas,at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.

"In the play he was open and honest about the sudden rise to fame and all of the concerts, the Ed Sullivan shows, the wild times and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that were squandered away," said Dalton.

"In spite of all that, Denny remained a gentleman and he was easy to work with."

Doherty born in Halifax

Doherty was born in Halifax on Nov. 29, 1940. He became part of his first folk act, the Colonials, in Montreal in 1960.

Denny Doherty, a former member of the Mamas and the Papas, poses prior to performing in his show at the Village Theater in New York, on April 7, 2003. ((Robert Spencer/Canadian Press))

That group, which included Toronto guitarist Zal Yanovsky, later of the Lovin' Spoonful, was renamed the Halifax Three and issued a 1963 album San Francisco Bay Blues.

Dohertywent toNew York, where he first met Elliott (Mama Cass), and sang in 1964 in the seminal folk-rock group the Mugwumps with Elliott, Yanovsky and James Hendricks.

When the Mugwumps didn't achieve success, Doherty and Elliott moved on to the Mamas and the Papas.

The group broke up in 1969 amid messy romantic entanglements and disaffection about their artistic direction.

In 1980, Doherty helped reform the group with John Phillips, Phillips's daughter MacKenzie, and Spanky McFarlane. They toured until 1986. Elliot had died in 1974.

Doherty had a solo career in the 1970s, recording Watcha Gonna Do, and returned to Nova Scotia where he sang at the Atlantic Folk Festival and was host of Denny's Sho' on CBC Halifax in 1978.

He took dramatic roles at the Neptune Theatre and was in a 1988 production of Fire, a gospel-rock musical by Canadians Paul Ledoux and David Young.

Doherty has lived in the Toronto area since 1986. He had a Gemini nomination for best performance in a children's or youth program for his appearance on Theodore Tugboat in 1997.

In the late '90s,the singer appeared as the main storyteller in The Needfire, a Canadian-celtic musical performed at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto.

He also has appeared in TV movies such as Pit Pony and had a guest appearance in 2005 on the CBC-TV series This is Wonderland.

Doherty is survived by his siblings Frances, Joe, Denise and Joan and children John, Emberly and Jessica.