My first crush, Denny Doherty, The Mamas and The Papas

My first crush, Denny Doherty, The Mamas and The Papas

I grew up in the 60’s but it wasn’t until the 70’s when I became a teen that I had my first crush. Like many others my age, my first crush was on none other than Denny Doherty, the great tenor voice behind The Mamas and The Papas. I lived (and loved) to wake up just to turn on the music to hear him sing. He passed away, 11 years ago today. On January 19, 2007, he died of kidney failure. I felt like some of my best memories of my childhood died with him as I did when the band split.  Even though I was extremely young when they were a group, it made an impression on me when I was a bit older and realized that quit performing together.

Denny was a voice to be reckoned with and was in many bands throughout his life, but it was The Mamas and The Papas that I think his best voice shown through. Make no mistake though, he had a successful career for the whole of his life. Doherty had three children: a daughter, Jessica Woods, from a brief first marriage, and a daughter, Emberly, and son, John, by his 20-year marriage to his second wife, Jeannette, who died in 1998. During the short time, the group was together, he had an affair with Michelle Phillips who was married to John Phillips, both of whom were in the band. It broke Cass Elliott’s heart, who was also in the group. And mine. I have no doubt that John had his own heartache to deal with.

Cass died at such an early age. She had heart failure due to fatty myocardial degeneration due to obesity. She had one of the best female voices I’ve ever heard and to this day, I would rather hear her sing than many of the newer singers. Cass (real name Ellen Naomi Cohen) loved Denny and even asked him to marry her. Sadly, her weight was a problem for him. I believe as many do that he loved her but he wouldn’t act on it because of the weight. When she died, he said that was his only regret in life, meaning not marrying her. I guess appearances were perceived differently in the 60’s.

Cass was married twice although her marriage to James Hendricks was to keep him from being drafted. The marriage was said to have never been consummated and was annulled in 1968. A year before that, she had a daughter, Owen Vanessa Elliot (who sings every bit as good as Cass). It was a big deal at that time to raise a daughter as a single mother and it wasn’t until many years after she passed away that the fathers’ name was revealed. It was none other than James Hendricks, her first husband, who she had an annulment from, a year after their child’s birth. She then married again in 1971 to Donald von Wiedenma and that marriage ended a couple of months later. It wasn’t until 2001 that Hendricks learned that Owen was his daughter.

My Little Port

Before Michelle and John were married, John was married and had a son, Jeffery, and a daughter, Mackenzie Phillips who many remember in the show, “One Day at a Time.” There was a scandal between her and her dad,  although it was consensual matter. There was a lot of drug use going on between both of them but there’s never an excuse for what happened between them which started when she was 19 and went on until she was 29.  Before his death, he remarried a third time and had two more kids, Tamerlane and Bijou Phillips. Because of his lifestyle choices, he had to have a liver transplant. He went back to drinking and soon after passed away.

Michelle turned to acting after the band split. Many may remember her in “Knot’s Landing” as the constantly scheming Anne Matheson Sumner. She ended up marrying 4 more times and has two other children besides Chynna (who is a singer and an actress and has been married to William Baldwin since 1995); Austin Hines, and Aron Wilson. She is the only member of the band who is still living. She reunited with her ex-husband John Phillips and former lover Denny Doherty in 1998 for The Mamas and the Papas induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  There are quite a few movies on YouTube that I watch often of this band which only lasted a short while but is still going strong to this day.  The 2005 movie sure brought back some memories.

This group of talented individuals raised some amazingly talented children of a whole new generation. You may have watched them in movies or heard them sing, not realizing that their parents were in one of the best musical bands of the 60’s. Look them up, you might just be surprised. Fair warning, you’ll want to wear headphones as you crank up their music.

If you’re experiencing a bit of nostalgia on this day of remembrance, as I am, check out this CD of 16 of The Mamas and The Papas greatest hits.

If I ever have the opportunity, I would like to go pay my respects to these amazing singers of my time.

My Little Port

Do you have a favorite group or song from the 60’s era?

*images from & Wikipedia.

40 Comments to “My first crush, Denny Doherty, The Mamas and The Papas”

  1. Okay okay. I must admit that I have never heard of the Mamas and the Papas lol. However, I do remember my first band crush!

    1. mylittleport says:

      Oh my goodness, I can’t imagine not hearing of them. You must be a lot younger than I am, lol.

  2. This is showing my age for sure, even though I have heard of the Mamas and the Papas, I have never heard one song from them! I’ll have to pull them up on Amazon Music, and have a listen.

    1. mylittleport says:

      I hope you like their music. Every time I think of the ones in the group that have passed away, I feel so sad. They took entirely too much LSD, lol, but boy could they sing.

  3. Joan Cajic says:

    I don’t think I have any favourites from then but I like listening and exploring all kinds of music which makes me learn more about them.

    1. mylittleport says:

      I love all kinds of music as well.

  4. Amber Myers says:

    I love this group. I’ve always been a fan of “oldies” and I have a lot of their songs on my playlist. One of my favorites is Make Your Own Kind Of Music.

    1. mylittleport says:

      Each of their songs really outdoes the last one. I’ve never heard a song of theirs I didn’t like.

  5. Sarah Bailey says:

    I have to say I’ve heard of the Mamas and Papas but I didn’t know a whole lot about them so it was really interesting to find out a little more about them.

    1. mylittleport says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you’ll take a listen to them.

  6. Valerie says:

    Ive never heard of this band , but i know what its like to have a band crush gehehew … my first crush was the backstreet boys lol

    1. mylittleport says:

      Oh you are young, lol. My daughters loved them too.

  7. Anosa says:

    I loved reading about your first crush though I have no clue who Mamas and the papas are, definitely before my time

    1. mylittleport says:

      My own kids have no interest in them, lol. They think any music except today’s hits are boring.

  8. maayan says:

    I love the Mamas and Papas! I agree they are one of the best 60’s bands

    1. mylittleport says:

      Yeah! Another fan.

  9. Milton Goh says:

    We all have our favorite first artistes and bands and it’s really nostalgic thinking back about those times right? 🙂

    1. mylittleport says:

      It really is. I saw an interview with Michelle and to see her aging makes me feel so old myself.

  10. Dee Jackson says:

    Wow. This is so nostalgic. My mom would talk about them all the time. Groovy.

    1. mylittleport says:

      I’m still talking about them lol. They’re still going strong in my home.

  11. I have never heard of them but I definitely learnt a lot about them through you and your post. It felt like you were talking about someone so close to you. Will definitely check out their videos.

    1. mylittleport says:

      They have some great songs.

  12. Jay Colby says:

    I’ve never heard of Denny Doherty or The Mamas and the Papas but for all the background you gave they sound like a amazing group. I might have to listen to some of their music.

    1. mylittleport says:

      I thought he was IT. First band crush stuck with me, lol.

  13. I don’t know The Mamas and The Papas. I think I’ll ask my parents if they know them. I got curious. I’ll watch their songs in youtube later.

    1. mylittleport says:

      I think you’ll like them if you like all genres of music.

  14. My mom used to love this band, and it was because of her that I got exposed to all sorts of good music! It’s so sad that most of our legends of yesteryear have passed away, but they live on through their music!

    Amber S. |

    1. mylittleport says:

      This is so true. Michelle who is only living person from the band, said she’d of never thought their music would be going strong, all these years later.

  15. I never actually heard of Denny Doherty or The Mamas and the Papas. But I will give them a listen because I like all genres of music.

    1. mylittleport says:

      My kids have no interest in them. They didn’t when they were young either. They’re all married with kids and have their own love of different bands but not this one. Ha, they think it’s old music.

  16. anshul says:

    I youtubed Mamas and the Papas after reading this and went through a few articles. They sound like a new follow for the next few days.

    1. mylittleport says:

      I want their music played at my funeral, lol. I love them to pieces.

  17. I have not heard of Mamas and Papas but I do remember Knot’s Landing. I watched it faithfully.

    1. mylittleport says:

      I didn’t like Michelle in Knots Landing, lol.

  18. Kitty says:

    I am not into bands… I never heard of this one before… but I would love to listen to them ☺️👍🏻

    1. mylittleport says:

      Oh wow, a non band fan, I can’t imagine, lol. I love music to the point it’s always playing where ever I’m at.

  19. pija mizan says:

    Never heard of them. But when you talked about artist and performers dying it seems lately there are many that is gone.

    1. mylittleport says:

      There really is a lot of them that I miss.

  20. Wildish Jess says:

    I’m not going to lie. I had no idea who that was based off of the name. I know who the band is though!

    1. mylittleport says:

      I was his biggest groupie (all of them really).

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