Denny Doherty, Canadian member of Mamas and Papas, dies

TORONTO (CP) — Halifax-born Denny Doherty was remembered Friday as the “angelic voice” that carried the ‘60s folk-pop group the Mamas and the Papas through such memorable hits as California Dreamin’ and Monday, Monday.

Doherty died early Friday at his home in suburban Mississauga after suffering an aneurysm in his abdomen, said his sister Frances Arnold. He was 66.

“Everybody used to think that John Phillips, who wrote the songs, was also the main voice of the group, but it wasn’t — it was the angelic voice of Denny Doherty,” said Larry Leblanc, Canadian editor of Billboard Magazine.

“He was often overlooked, but it was really his voice that carried the group; also Cass (Elliot) was a formidable singer.”

The group’s hits also included Dream a Little Dream of Me and Dedicated to the One I Love.

Doherty co-wrote the songs I Saw Her Again Last Night and Got a Feelin’.

Despite being together for just three tumultuous years marked by drug use and destructive love triangles, the Mamas and the Papas had 10 hit singles over five albums. The band broke up in 1968 amid internal squabbling.

Doherty, along with Elliot and John and Michelle Phillips, sold an estimated 20 million records.

In 1974, the 30-year-old Elliot suffered a fatal heart attack. John Phillips, the group’s chief songwriter, died in 2001 at age 65.

“What made the group special was their haunting and sumptuous harmony singing,” according to The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll.

Kim Cooke of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences compared Doherty to other top performers of the time.

“He was one of a group of Canadians of that era that would have included Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and others who were heading to the U.S. to make music and in some cases, fame and fortune,” Cooke said.

Doherty started his music career in Montreal in 1960 as the co-founder of the Colonials, which later became the Halifax Three.

He launched an acting career in the ‘70s and appeared on Broadway in the 1974 play Man on the Moon.

Later in Halifax, he joined John Neville at the Neptune Theatre, where he was in The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing and Cabaret.

The Mamas and the Papas had a short-lived comeback in 1982, adding two new faces to the classic group — John’s daughter MacKenzie Phillips and Elaine (Spanky) McFarlane.

Doherty suffered kidney problems following surgery Dec. 14 and was put on dialysis.

He was released from hospital last week.

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