Singer Doherty's voice, humour remembered
Published Saturday, January 27, 2007 11:33PM EST
HALIFAX - Friends of Denny Doherty remembered the musician Saturday for his ability to touch the hearts of people with his voice and with his humour.
Playwright Paul Ledoux recalled Doherty's stories, especially about growing up in the working-class north-end of Halifax, before he entered St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church for his friend's funeral.
"I think people will always remember Denny as a handsome, charming man with a voice that ... melts your heart every time you hear it,'' he said outside the church on a crisp, clear winter day.
As a musician, Doherty left his mark on the turbulent 1960s as a member of the folk-pop group the Mamas and the Papas.
Doherty, who was 66, died Jan. 19 at his home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga after suffering complications from surgery.
After his death, friends remembered Doherty's angelic voice as a member of the Mamas and the Papas, famous for hits such as "California Dreamin''' and "Monday, Monday.''
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.'''
The group was only together for three tumultuous years marked by drug use and destructive love triangles, but they had 10 hit singles from five albums before breaking up in 1968.
Doherty went on to have a successful career in the theatre and in television, particularly for his role of the affable harbourmaster in the children's TV series "Theodore Tugboat.''
As the Mamas and the Papas, Doherty, Cass Elliot, and John and Michelle Phillips sold an estimated 20 million records.
The only surviving member of the band is Michelle Phillips, who spoke earlier about how difficult it was to write Doherty's eulogy.
Elliot died in 1974 at the age of 30 from a fatal heart attack. John Phillips, the group's chief songwriter, died in 2001. He was 65.
Phillips also recently recalled how she last spoke with Doherty a day before his death and believed he was on the way to recovery from surgery last month after suffering an aneurysm in his abdomen.
"He was extremely funny and jovial as always and he was just my same old Denny,'' Phillips said, adding they spoke by phone several times a week.
Doherty started his music career in Montreal in 1960 as the co-founder of the Colonials, which later became the Halifax Three before the band broke up in 1965.
Outside the church, Pat LaCroix, a member of the Halifax Three, said the world was a poorer place without Doherty.
"Denny was a lovely man,'' he added. "I liked this world a lot better when he was walking on it.''
In the 1970s, Doherty launched an acting career that led to his appearance on Broadway in the 1974 play "Man on the Moon.'' He later joined John Neville at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, 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 was involved in a number of musical projects, including an autobiographical musical, "Dream a Little Dream,'' which premiered in Nova Scotia in 1996 and had runs in Toronto and New York City.
Doherty was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996.
The TV series "Theodore Tugboat'' was originally produced in Halifax by CBC and featured a cast of small, radio-controlled tugboats. Doherty provided the narration and the voices for all the characters.
The show attracted a large following among its young fans in the mid-1990s when it appeared on CBC and later on PBS, the non-profit public broadcaster in the United States.
Every show featured Doherty's musical, mellifluous voice telling the stories of Theodore the tugboat and his friends, many of whom were named after places in Atlantic Canada.
Doherty, who was married twice, is survived by his siblings Frances, Joe, Denise and Joan and children John, Emberly and Jessica. Both of his wives predeceased him.
Ledoux said Doherty would be buried in nearby Lower Sackville.