Denny Doherty

From Academic Kids

Dennis Gerrard Stephen Doherty (born November 29, 1940 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) is a singer and songwriter. He is most widely known as a member of the famous 60s musical group The Mamas & the Papas.


A difficult start

In 1960, he cofounded a folk group called "The Colonials" in Montreal, Canada. 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 due to insolvency. Ironically, they broke up at a hotel called "The Colonial."

In 1963 he established a friendship with Cass Elliot when she was with a band called "The Big Three." While on tour with "The Halifax Three," he met John Phillips and his new wife, seventeen year-old Michelle Phillips.

A few months later, Doherty's band broke up and he and his accompanist, Zalman Yanovsky, were broke in New York City. Cass Elliot heard of their troubles and convinced her manager to hire them. So he and Zal joined the Big Three (growing 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.

About this time, John Phillip's new band, "The New Journeymen," needed a tenor for a tour and Doherty, currently unemployed, filled the opening. Eventually Cass Elliot was invited into the band about the time the band got a recording contract. Changing their name to "The Mamas and the Papas," the band started recording their debut album.

Infidelity threatens the band

About this time, Dennis and Michelle started an affair. They were able to keep it secret for quite a while 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 Dennis), but the band kept recording together. Eventually the band signed a statement in June 1966, kicking Michelle out of the band. She was quickly replaced by Jill Gibson, girlfriend of the band's producer Lou Adler. Jill's stint as a "Mama" lasted two and a half months and during this period, Dennis drank heavily trying to get over Michelle.

Due to fan demand, Michelle was allowed to rejoin the band in late August of 1966, while Jill Gibson was given a lump sum for her efforts. However, by the time of Michelle's return, the band had lost focus, inertia and direction. While trying to create another album, Cass left the group and what followed was the fall of The Mamas and the Papas. The band finally called it quits in the summer of 1968.


Cass Elliot and Doherty remained friends, however. Doherty continued trying to drink the memory of Michelle out of his life. Hot on the heals of the band's breakup, Elliot had a hit solo show. She eventually asked Doherty to marry her, but he declined.

He was stunned and saddened to hear of Elliot's passing in 1974. He, along with the other former members of the band, attended her funeral.

Doherty produced a 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 the role of the Harbour Master in "Theodore Tugboat", a children's television show chronicling the "lives" of vessels in a busy harbour loosely based upon Halifax Harbour.

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