April 12, 1945 – August 27, 2007
Douglas Brian “Doug” Riley, 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.
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”. 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.