Denny Doherty

doherty1November 29, 1940 – January 19, 2007

The story of the eventual creation of the Mamas & the Papas reads like a laundry list of formations, break-ups and reorgs – just listen to their song “Creeque Alley” for a little insight. There are no fewer than a dozen band names that finally led to the group that famously charted Top 10 hits all throughout the late 1960’s. All you need to know here is that Denny Doherty of the Halifax, Nova Scotia band The Colonials (aka, The Halifax Three,) met Cass Elliot while touring the folk circuits. Denny seemed to always be there to fill in when Elliot or John Phillips needed help with a new lineup or a lost group member. Eventually, Doherty landed a permanent spot in The Magic Cyrcle…which became the Mamas & the Papas.

It is also worth mentioning that Doherty carried on a secret affair with bandmate Michelle Phillips. The affair led to Phillips’ dismissal from the band for like a week1 before fans demanded she rejoin her husband, John, and the rest of the group. They continued recording hits in what were, no doubt, the most awkward recording sessions in history. In 1968, the group called it quits for good. Papa Denny’s solo career never took off but he spent the remainder of his years acting, competing with John over the “true” versions of the tM&tP’s story, getting sober and politely turning down Elliot’s marriage proposals. He died of an aortic aneurysm in his home at the age of 66.


Gate of Heaven Cemetery – Lower Sackville, NS, CANADA

Specific Location

Section 6G, Plot S, Grave 13A; 10 rows up from the maintenance shed and 12 markers in from the road on the south side of the row, basically smack in the center of the section.


1 – Technically…2 1/2 months.


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