Canadian singer Denny Doherty, a member of the Mamas and the Papas, died today (Jan. 19) at his home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. The singer/songwriter died after suffering from a long-time illness. He was 66.

While John Phillips was the writing force of the famed '60s folk-rock act, it was Doherty's soaring vocals that dominated such hits as "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday." The group also consisted of Phillips' then-wife Michelle, and female vocalist Cass Elliot.

Doherty, who was from the north end of Halifax, Nova Scotia, began his music career at 15 years old with Halifax dance band Peter Power. He then sang with a succession of folk groups including the Hepsters in Halifax, and the Montreal-based Colonials. The group later became the Halifax Three, which featured future Lovin' Spoonful guitarist Zal Yanovsky.

"It was 1960 and I had visions of myself behind the wheel of a fire engine red Cadillac convertible, with a white interior," Doherty later recalled. "I left home and crammed into an MG with two other guys with all our gear and a guitar."

The Mamas and Papas broke into the North American pop charts in 1966 with "California Dreamin'," followed by such hits as "Monday, Monday" (which won the band a Grammy Award for best contemporary group performance). Other hits included "Creeque Alley," "I Saw Her Again Last Night," and "Go Where You Wanna Go."

The band's heyday was brief, with a split in 1968 following the Phillips' divorce. Members reunited for a short time in 1971 for the album "People Like Us." In 1982, Phillips briefly constructed the group again with Doherty, Phillips' actress daughter Mackenzie, and Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane.

Doherty was host of CBC Halifax TV's "Denny's Sho" in the summer of 1978, then took dramatic roles at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax. He was played the Harbormaster and voiced all the characters for the Halifax-based children's CBC-TV series "Theodore Tugboat."

In 2003, he was co-author and performer in an off-Broadway show called "Dream a Little Dream: The Mamas and the Papas Musical," which traced the band's glory years.

In 1998, the Mamas and the Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Doherty was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

"My life has been like trying to get across a stream without getting your feet wet," Doherty previously wrote on his Web site. "You see a flat rock and you step out. You see the next flat rock and you . . . jump. Flat rock . . . jump, oh that's a slippery one and there's another and before you know it, you're running over these slippery stones trying to get to the other side and ... thank God! I made it."

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