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  • Mamas & Papas' Denny Doherty Dies at 66

    Mon, 22 Jan 2007 08:57:13

    Mamas & Papas' Denny Doherty Dies at 66 - "Angelic" singer helped give folk quartet its signature sound.

    Denny Doherty, a singer in the popular '60s folk group The Mamas and the Papas, died on Friday (January 19th) at his home near Toronto at the age of 66. Doherty had been suffering from kidney complications following a surgical procedure, and had spent the last month on dialysis.

    Doherty sang the lead vocal on "California Dreamin'," the still-ubiquitous hit that rocketed The Mamas and the Papas to iconic status in 1966. Michelle Phillips is now the only surviving band member; chief songwriter John Phillips passed away in 2001, and "Mama" Cass Elliot died of a heart attack in 1974, effectively ending any hope of a band reunion (although there were fleeting attempts at revivals in later years).

    The quartet was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Despite their relatively brief lifespan, the group has sold somewhere around 20 million records. Because of Elliot's early death and a band-derailing divorce between John and Michelle Phillips in 1968, Doherty is sometimes overlooked when the group is retrospectively considered. But his vocals were an essential ingredient to the band's signature sound, and although John Phillips developed that formula, it was Doherty who often took the spotlight on the band's biggest hits, such as "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday."

    "Everybody used to think that John Phillips, who wrote the songs, was also the main voice of the group, but it wasn't," said Billboard's Larry Leblanc. "It was the angelic voice of Denny Doherty."

    In later years, Doherty became a star to a whole different audience by playing the Harbor Master in the PBS-broadcast children's show Theodore Tugboat. He also wrote and performed in the autobiographical Off-Broadway show Dream a Little Dream: The Nearly True Story of the Mamas and Papas.

    --The ARTISTdirect Staff

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