Three Dog Night
Synopsis of Pop Music
"Jeremiah was a bullfrog,
Was a good friend of mine..."
The 1970’s were a wonderful time for pop music because radio stations played all kinds of pop at once: it wasn’t uncommon to hear a hard-rock epic, a bubblegum tune, and a soul song all in a row while listening to the radio. This led to a lot of groups who combined many different styles of pop to create interesting new hits. One of the best to perform this creative alchemy was Three Dog Night, a pop ensemble that scored an impressive 21 hits in only six years. More importantly, they used their time in the spotlight to popularize the work of brilliant new songwriters like Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Laura Nyro.
Three Dog Night was the brainchild of Danny Hutton, a singer who envisioned a group built around three lead vocalists with the chops to perform all different kinds of pop songs. Hutton quickly recruited fellow L.A. scenesters Cory Wells and Chuck Negron to fill the other vocal slots, and the three assembled a dynamic group of musicians sharp enough to play the diverse styles of music they wanted to pursue. The new group decided to call themselves Three Dog Night after an Australian expression that described sleeping conditions on a chilly night in the outback.
Three Dog Night quickly became a live favorite at clubs in Los Angeles, leading to a record contract in 1969. Unlike many groups of the day, they downplayed the idea of writing their own songs in favor of using songs by new, untested writers. That year, they scored their first Top-5 hit with “One,” a driving version of a Harry Nilsson song anchored by Negron’s operatically powerful vocal. “Easy To Be Hard,” a song from the musical Hair, also cracked the Top-5. They also hit the Top-10 with their moody yet dynamic version of the Laura Nyro tune “Eli’s Coming,” which provided an excellent vehicle for the singers’ harmonic blend.
In 1970, Three Dog Night scored their first #1 hit with “Mama Told Me Not To Come,” a funny tale of a strange party written by the then-unknown Randy Newman. On this hit, the band provided a memorably funky backdrop for Cory Wells' slyly comic lead vocal. They also went Top-20 that year with the gospel-styled “Celebrate,” which featured the horn players from the band Chicago as guest musicians. The next year, they scored another #1 smash with “Joy To The World,” an exuberant slice of funky good-time pop, and went Top-5 with the lovely “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” another vibrant showcase for the group’s vocal blend.
By this time, Three Dog Night were as successful on the concert stage as they were on record. Their combination of three vocalists and diverse pop material made for a fabulous show that filled concert halls and stadiums from coast to coast. Meanwhile, the hits kept rolling in for Three Dog Night. They made their third visit to the #1 slot in 1972 with “Black And White.” This sing-along classic paired bubblegum hooks to a reggae backbeat and drove it all home with the help of a children’s chorus. Another big hit from that year was the soulful “Never Been To Spain,” which later become a live favorite for Tom Jones and Elvis Presley.
Three Dog Night continued their hit-making streak into the mid-1970’s. In 1973, they sailed to the #3 slot with “Shambala,” a funky tune graced with killer high-harmonies on its “yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus. They went top-five in 1974 with “The Show Must Go On,” a catchy Leo Sayer song built on a organ-led ‘carnival’ sound and sealed by a raw, emotional vocal from Chuck Negron.
In 1976, Danny Hutton left the group to pursue other interests. By the next year, Three Dog Night had retired from their amazing pop music career. However, they did reunite briefly in the early 1980’s and became a popular live attraction all over again.
Today, all of the Three Dog Night vocalists remain active in the music world. Danny Hutton and Cory Wells continue to tour in a modern lineup of Three Dog Night that includes two members of the original backup band, while Chuck Negron fronts his own touring band. Audiences around the world continue to eagerly seek out these performances, proving that the multi-faceted sound of Three Dog Night remains as satisfying as ever.
Artist Release History1969 - Three Dog Night
1969 - Captured Live At The Forum
1970 - It Ain’t Easy
1970 - Naturally
1971 - Golden Biscuits
1971 - Harmony
1972 - Seven Separate Fools
1973 - Around The World With Three Dog Night
1974 - Cyan
1974 - Hard Labor
1975 - Coming Down Your Way
1975 - Joy To The World: Their Greatest Hits
1976 - American Pastime
1982 - The Best of Three Dog Night
1984 - It’s A Jungle
1993 - Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsThe Best Of Three Dog Night (MCA)
Band MembersDanny Hutton vocals
Chuck Negron vocals
Cory Wells vocals
Jimmy Greenspoon keyboards
Joe Schermie bass
Floyd Sneed drums