The music world was shocked to hear this week that Cory Wells, founder and singer of the 1970’s rock band Three Dog Night, died at 74 years old. Cory had been performing with the band through September, when he developed severe back pain. His fellow band mates and musicians considered him to be a fantastic singer, calling him a man of inspiration. His music is part of the fabric of America. It’s no wonder the band performed on the road for 40 years.
You might be wondering where the band got their creative name. One of the band member’s girlfriends came up with the name after reading an article about indigenous Austrailians who on cold nights would sleep with dingos (dogs) to stay warm. A freezing cold night was considered a “three dog night.” This was fitting since the band started with three vocalists in 1964.
The band recorded over 20 albums in their career, twelve of which went gold. They recorded 21 consecutive Billboard Top 40 hits. They had three #1 songs in the United States; “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” “Black and White,” and probably their most well known hit, “Joy to the World.” Because the band changed personnel often, all three of these songs have different lead vocalists. Although these songs were big hits with record consumers, critics of the time usually didn’t have many good things to say about the band.
Even though they had some unforgettable singles that they had composed, they are mostly known as a cover band, introducing the world to many songwriters. When the band was just starting, the new trend in music was for bands to write their own songs, because that was what the Beatles were doing. Songwriters who were not performers were thankful for bands like Three Dog Night because their music was still getting out there to the world. Just a few of these hits for the band were Harry Nilsson’s “One,” Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Comin,” Odis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” Paul Williams’ “Out in the Country,” and from the musical Hair, “Easy to Be Hard.” They also made several recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra.
One more accomplishment of these talented musicians is how many of their songs have been included in movies and television shows. Their music has appeared in the movies Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Forrest Gump, among many others. Their songs can also be heard in such television shows as Lost, Supernatural, House, Malcom in the Middle, and Criminal Minds.