Denny Doherty

Inducted in 1996

Maritimer Denny Doherty was a renowned Canadian singer, songwriter and musician. He is most widely known as a founding member of perhaps the most iconic folk group of the 1960s, The Mamas & the Papas.

Born in Halifax, N.S., in 1940, Doherty formed his first folk trio at the age of 19. Named The Colonials, the group played across Canada and, after changing the name to The Halifax Three, signed a recording contract in New York. After the trio broke up Doherty joined Cass Elliot as a member of her group, The Big Three. Inspired by the Beatles, The Big Three recruited Zal Yanovsky and John Sebastian and changed its name to The Mugwumps. Although the folky, rocking Mugwumps broke new ground, a record release was not forthcoming and the band split up. While Sebastian and Yanosky went on to form The Lovin’ Spoonful, Elliot and Doherty joined up with fellow folkies John and Michelle Phillips to become The Mamas & the Papas.

Career Highlights


In 1980, Doherty helped reform the group with John Phillips, Phillips’s daughter Mackenzie, and Spanky McFarlane. They toured until 1986.


Recorded top-selling albums and singles such as “California Dreamin’,” “Monday Monday,” and “I Saw Her Again.”


The group had nine top-40 hits from 1965-67 (six reached the top five).


Doherty and Elliott formed The Mamas & the Papas with John and Michelle Phillips

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Met ‘Mama’ Cass Elliott in New York City in 1964 and formed folk-rock group the Mugwumps.

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Quick Fact

Appeared as the main storyteller in The Needfire,a Canadian-Celtic musical performed at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto.