Three Dog Night is an American rock band. They formed in 1968 with a line-up consisting of Danny Hutton, Cory Wells and Chuck Negron. The three lead singers were backed by Jimmy Greenspoon (organ), Joe Schermie (bass), Mike Allsup (guitar) and Floyd Sneed (drums). The band registered 21 Billboard Top 40 hits (with three hitting number one) between 1969 and 1975. It helped introduce mainstream audiences to the work of many songwriters, including Paul Williams, Hoyt Axton, Laura Nyro, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, and Leo Sayer. As of 2013, they are still recording and making live appearances.
Band name origin
The official commentary included in the CD set Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1964–1975 states that vocalist Danny Hutton's then-girlfriend June Fairchild suggested the name after reading a magazine article about indigenous Australians, in which it was explained that on cold nights they would customarily sleep in a hole in the ground whilst embracing a dingo, a native species of wild dog. On colder nights they would sleep with two dogs and if the night were freezing, it was a "three dog night".
The three vocalists, Danny Hutton (who got his start with Hanna-Barbera Records in 1964), Chuck Negron and Cory Wells (who landed a recording contract with Dunhill Records) first came together in 1967 and made some recordings with Brian Wilson and initially went by the name of Redwood. Shortly after abandoning the Redwood moniker in 1968, the vocalists hired a group of backing musicians – Michael Allsup on guitar, Floyd Sneed on drums, Joe Schermie from the Cory Wells Blues Band on bass, and Jimmy Greenspoon on keyboards – and soon took the name Three Dog Night, becoming one of the most successful bands in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Three Dog Night earned 12 gold albums and recorded 21 consecutive Billboard Top 40 hits, seven of which went gold. Their first gold record was "One" (US #5), which had been written and recorded by Harry Nilsson. The group had three US #1 songs, each of which featured a different lead singer: "Mama Told Me Not to Come" (Cory Wells on lead), which was also their only Top 10 hit in the UK; "Joy to the World" (Chuck Negron on lead); and "Black and White" (Danny Hutton on lead). Dunhill Records claimed that 40 million record albums were sold by the band during this time period.
As its members wrote just a handful of songs on the albums, most songs Three Dog Night recorded were written by outside songwriters. Notable hit covers include Harry Nilsson's "One" (US #5), the Gerome Ragni - James Rado - Galt MacDermot composition "Easy to Be Hard" (US #4) from the musical Hair, Laura Nyro's "Eli's Comin'" (US #10), Randy Newman's "Mama Told Me Not to Come" (US #1), Paul Williams' "Out in the Country" (US #15) and "An Old Fashioned Love Song" (US #4), Hoyt Axton's "Joy to the World" (US #1) and "Never Been To Spain" (US #5), Argent's Russ Ballard's "Liar" (US #7), Elton John and Bernie Taupin's "Lady Samantha" and "Your Song", Daniel Moore's "Shambala", Leo Sayer's "The Show Must Go On" (US #4), John Hiatt's "Sure As I'm Sittin' Here" (US #16), and Bush's "I Can Hear You Callin'".
Joe Schermie was replaced by Jack Ryland in 1973, and the band then became an eight-piece with the inclusion of another keyboard player, Skip Konte (ex-Blues Image). In late 1974, Allsup & Sneed left to form a new band, SS Fools, with Schermie. New members James "Smitty" Smith and drummer Mickey McMeel were recruited but by 1975 Smith was replaced by Al Ciner from Rufus and The American Breed and Ryland by Rufus bassist Dennis Belfield. By 1976 their run of hit records had ended and Hutton was succeeded by Jay Gruska. However, this lineup was short lived. Another former Rufus band member, Ron Stockert, was recruited as second keyboardist after Konte left that same year. After a summer concert tour was cut short, the group played their final show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles on July 26, 1976.
In 1981, Three Dog Night reunited and released the ska-inspired "It's a Jungle" in 1983 on the small Passport Records label, which garnered some airplay on the New Wave circuit. The EP failed to sell after Passport went bankrupt. The reunion featured all of the original members, except Joe Schermie, who was succeeded by Mike Seifrit until 1982, and then by Richard Grossman, who stayed until 1984. Two guitarists, Paul Kingery and Steve Ezzo, occasionally played with the band, filling in for Allsup on dates he was not able to make between 1982 and 1984. Ezzo replaced Allsup when he departed in late 1984 to take care of some personal and family matters. Sneed was let go from the band at the same time. In 1985, a spring and summer tour was postponed after Negron and Greenspoon were forced to enter drug rehab and the band hit the road in late 1985 with a revived lineup that still included Ezzo, bassist Scott Manzo and drummer Mike Keeley.
By December 1985, after a relapse into his drug habit, Negron was let go, and the group continued with Wells and Hutton fronting the band and Paul Kingery was brought back on guitar to cover Chuck's vocal harmonies. In 1986 their song "In My Heart" was featured in Robotech: The Movie.
There were more changes in personnel when guitarist T.J. Parker and vocalist and bassist Gary Moon replaced Kingery and Manzo in 1988, and were replaced themselves by Mike Cuneo and Richard Campbell during 1989. Allsup returned to the group to replace Cuneo in the spring of 1991, and Pat Bautz succeeded Keely as drummer in 1993.
In 1993, Three Dog Night performed for The Family Channel show Spotlight on Country, filmed in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Kingery returned to the band as their bass player in 1996 following Campbell's departure.
Negron was eventually able to clean up his life and has been drug-free since September 1991. He is currently pursuing a solo career. Original bassist Joe Schermie died on March 26, 2002.
In 2007, Sky Television launched a new ad campaign in the UK. The campaign promoted the company's aspirations to be seen as an environmentally friendly company, and used the band's song Joy To The World.
Three Dog Night is still touring and recording, performing 80 concerts a year. The current lineup features original members Wells, Hutton, Greenspoon and Allsup, along with longtime members Paul Kingery and Pat Bautz.
In May 2002, Three Dog Night With The London Symphony Orchestra was released. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and in London, England at Abbey Road Studios. The album includes two new songs "Overground" and "Sault Ste. Marie".
In October 2004, Three Dog Night released The 35th Anniversary Hits Collection Featuring The London Symphony Orchestra. The album includes live versions of "Eli's Coming", "Brickyard Blues", "Try a Little Tenderness" and "Family of Man".
In August 2008, Three Dog Night Greatest Hits Live, a compilation of previously unissued live 1972 and 1973 recordings from concerts in Frankfurt, Germany and Edmonton, England, was released.
On October 24, 2009, Three Dog Night released two new songs – '"Heart of Blues"/"Prayer of the Children". A new studio album, the group's first in 24 years, is being recorded during breaks from touring using producer Richie Podolor. Although an EP of five new songs was recorded and released in 1983, and two new songs were issued on Three Dog Night's 35th Anniversary Hits Collection Featuring The London Symphony Orchestra, Three Dog Night has not recorded a full-length album since 1976's American Pastime.