Spread the love

Three Dog Night, Strange name for a band with a distinct sound.

 Three Dog Night: The Show Must Go On

The rock band Three Dog Night, with 12 Gold albums to their credit, and 21 consecutive Billboard Top 40 hits, began in the late 1960s and became one of the most successful bands in the United States. Their hit recordings were due in large part to their founders and lead singers; Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron, and Cory Wells. But the backup created by the remainder of the band gave it the needed depth for their signature sound. Those members were Jimmy Greenspoon, (keyboards,) Joe Schermie, (bass,) Mike Allsup, (guitar,) and Floyd Sneed (drums.) Sadly, we recently learned of the loss of another member of Three dog Night, Cory Wells. More on that later in the story.

“Joy To The World”

Their songs were joyous, and frivolous, a sound that was uniquely theirs. You always knew a Three Dog Night tune, because no other band sounded like they did. One of the songs most celebrated is “Joy To The World,” and no, it wasn’t the one we sang in church at Christmastime. That’s quickly made clear with the first few words:

“Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine, I never understood a single word he said, but I helped him drink his wine. And he always had some mighty fine wine. Joy to the world, all the boys and girls now, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me.”

Harmony, Three Dog Night’s 7th Gold Record in 3 years

Three Dog Night’s Hits Kept Coming

Although they had problems (Negron was admitted to rehab for a time, but has been drug free since 1991) and there were changes in the lineup from time to time, Three Dog Night continued on. Some of their biggest hits were; “One” by Harry Nilsson, “Easy To Be Hard,” a combined composition from three composers, Gerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermott, “Eli’s Coming,” by Laura Nyro, “Mama Told Me Not To Come,” by Randy Newman, “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” by Paul Williams, “Joy To The World” and “Never Been To Spain,” by  Hoyt Axton, “Shambala” by Daniel Moore, “Liar” by Russ Ballard and “The Show Must Go On,” by Leo Sayers. The band broke up in the mid-1970s but reunited briefly early in 1980.

How Did The Band Get Its Name?

If you’ve been a fan of Three Dog Night since its beginning, you know how the band got its name, but for the younger crowd who may not know, here’s the story.  Danny Hutton’s girlfriend, actress June Fairchild read a magazine article about indigenous Australians, who on cold nights would sleep in a hole in the ground with one dingo (feral dog) to keep them warm. If it was a bitter cold night, they’d bring in two dogs, and if it was freezing cold, it was a “three dog night.” They liked the odd sound of it and took it as their name.

Jimmy Greenspoon and Cory Wells Deaths

Since then, Three Dog Night has continued to tour and record with the original members, Hutton, Wells, Greenspoon and Allsup, plus members Paul Kingery and Pat Bautz, until Jimmy Greenspoon’s death from Metastatic Carcinoma on March 11, 2015.

Cory Wells began his musical career after joining the United States Air Force after high school, then formed a band known as The Enemies, an interracial group. He was inspired by the Del-Vikings, another interracial group formed from Air Force buddies in the 1950s. Their recording of “Come Go With Me,” was a particular favorite. They became the house band at Whiskey A Go Go, where he met Cher who asked him to go on tour with her and then spouse Sonny. His career took off after that, when he met Danny Hutton on the tour. Sadly, on October 20, 2015 Cory Wells died in Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, New York. The cause of his death is now listed as Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer.

But THE SHOW MUST GO ON! and their music lives on.

If you love Three Dog Night’s music, here’s some of their work you might want to own.


Nancy Hardin is a writer, author, journalist and mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She is a military veteran of the Vietnam War era, as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.