Doug Riley

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Doug Riley
BornApril 12, 1945
Toronto, Canada
DiedAugust 27, 2007
Occupation(s)Musician, producer
Formerly ofThe Silhouettes, Dr. Music

Douglas Brian Riley,[1] CM (April 12, 1945 – August 27, 2007) was a Canadian musician, also known as Dr. Music. He spent two decades with the Famous People Players as its musical director, besides his participation on over 300 album projects in various genres. Riley died of a heart attack on August 27, 2007.[2]


Riley was a graduate of the University of Toronto and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Doug Riley was born and raised in Toronto. At the age of two he was diagnosed with polio. When he was three, as a way to help cope with his physical disability and to provide him with a means of self-expression, he began to study piano. In his teens, he played with R&B band the Silhouettes. He attended the University of Toronto and, in 1965, graduated with a Bachelor of Music. He went on to do his postgraduate work on the music of the Iroquois. In 1969, Riley was the arranger and keyboardist on Ray Charles' album, Doing His Thing. In a 2006 interview with the Toronto Star, Doug Riley said "Ray Charles was my first influence outside the boogie-woogie and stride pianists like Albert Ammons and Fats Waller".[3] After the completion of the album, Ray Charles asked Doug Riley to join his band but Riley turned down the offer and decided to stay in Toronto to continue his musical career.

Career (groups)[edit]

The Silhouettes[edit]


As a teenager, he was in the Silhouettes, playing r&b at the Blue Note, a night club in Toronto.[4] Musicians also included Steve Kennedy and Dianne Brooks. One date they played at was The Blue Note on February 22, 1964. This is where William "Smitty" Smith first met Steve Kennedy.[5] The Silhouettes were actually the house band there,[6] replacing the original house band, The Regents and inheriting their saxophonist Kennedy in the process. They played at the Blue Note for three years.[7] They recorded two singles with Hardin, "I'm Not Running After You (Anymore)" bw "I Will Never Turn My Back On You" (1966) and "She'll Be Back" bw "Love Is Wonderful" (1967).[8] They were also the backing band on Eric Mercury's 1966 single, "I Wondered Why" / "Softly".[9][10]


In early 1965, the group was backing singers Jack Hardin and Dianne Brooks, appearing at The Hawk's Nest in Toronto as the opening attraction.[11] A ad appeared in the May 30, 1966 edition of RPM Weekly predicting a guaranteed 100% Canadian and possible international smash hit for "I'm Not Running After You (Anymore)".[12] Reviews in the June 20th edition of RPM Weekly were luke warm. Barry Sarazin of CJET didn't believe the song had the spice to be an instant hit but had merit to deserve airplay. Dave Charles of CJBQ said that it would at least deserve a chart rating. He also complemented Hardin's voice saying that the song was ideal for the singer's style.[13] As Jack Hardin & The Silhouettes, they played at the Whitby Arena on May 13, 1967.[14]

Dr. Music[edit]


Riley formed the group Dr. Music in 1969. It began with Riley being asked to put together musicians for The Ray Stevens Show on CTV. This was for the 1969 to 1970 season. The core of the ensemble stayed together after the show's cancellation and they recorded and toured together.[15] The group had a run of Top 20 hits during the 1970s.[16]


Their single "One More Mountain to Climb bw "The Land" got a good review in the September 11, 1971 edition of Cash Box.[17] Spending 7 weeks on Vancouver's CKVN chart, it peaked at #15 in October that year.Their debut album was released on the GRT label in 1972. Self-titled, the album featured the tracks, "Sun Goes By", "One More Mountain to Climb" and "Try a Little Harder". Riley produced the album as well as co-arranging it with Steve Kennedy.[18] "Sun Goes By" which Kennedy wrote spent 9 weeks on Vancouver's CKVN chart, peaking at #12.[19] Not long after the release of their album the group broke up. He later formed another version of the group.[20]

Composer, producer[edit]

A prolific composer of jingles at the age of 20, he was working in collaboration with Mort Ross, Tommy Ambrose and Larry Trudel. Trudel had the company Trudel Productions.[21]

He composed the song "Show Him (He's Not Alone)" which was Dianne Brooks' second single that was released on Revolver REVS 003 in 1969. It was produced by Mort Ross.[22] With Ross, he produced "When I Die" which was a hit for the group, getting to No. 1 in Canada and Top 20 on the U.S. charts.[23]


Dr. Music[edit]

  • Dr. Music (1971)
  • Dr. Music II (1973)
  • Bedtime Story (1974)
  • Doctor Music (1977)
  • Circa '84 (1984)


  • Dreams (1975)
  • Freedom (1990)
  • Con Alma (1994)
  • A Lazy Afternoon (1997)
  • Stride (2005)
  • You Can't Make Peace (2007)

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ "Doug Riley". IMDb.
  2. ^ The Canadian Press (2007-08-29). "Dr. Music, Doug Riley, dies at 62". Charlottetown Guardian. Archived from the original on 2012-09-12. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  3. ^ (qtd. Martin).
  4. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia - Doug Riley
  5. ^ A Stroke of Luck by William D. Smith 2008, ISBN 0615235654 - Page 279
  6. ^ Nicholas Jennings, Tuesday, 22 March 2022 - Dr. Music and Brother Ray
  7. ^ FYI Music News, Jan 23, 2017 - A Conversation With ... Doug Riley by Bill King
  8. ^ 45Cat - Jack Hardin And The Silhouettes - Discography, Canada
  9. ^ 45Cat - Eric Mercury - Discography, Canada
  10. ^ (© Museum of Canadian Music) - Brooks, Dianne - Some Other Kind of Soul Information/Write-up
  11. ^ Billboard, January 23, 1965 - Page 49 News From The MUSIC CAPITALS OF THE WORLD, TORONTO
  12. ^ RPM Weekly, May 30, 1966 - Page 2
  13. ^ RPM Weekly, June 20th, 1966 - Page 4 sounding board
  14. ^ Garage Hangover, MARCH 9, 2009 - GRANT SMITH AND THE POWER
  15. ^ Doug Mallory - Dr. Music
  16. ^ CBC News, Aug 28, 2007 - Entertainment, Doug Riley, Canada's 'Dr. Music,' dies at 62
  17. ^ Cash Box, September 11, 1971 - Page 18 cash box | singles reviews, Newcomer Picks
  21. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia - Doug Riley
  22. ^ RPM Weekly, Volume 12 No. 5, September 20th, 1969 - Page 12 Revolver ad, Page 13, DIANNE BROOKS' NEW SINGLE
  23. ^ Canadian songwriters Hall of Fame - When I Die

External links[edit]