11 March 2011

Rock-n-Roll Oldies: Three Dog Night- 1970

"That ain't the way to have fun, son..."

Three Dog Night is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, CA. Best known for the songs they created from 1968 to 1975, as of 2010 the group is still actually recording and making live appearances.

Legend has it that vocalist Danny Hutton's then-girlfriend came up with the band's name in 1968 after reading a magazine article about Australian aboriginals and how they -on cold nights- had a custom of sleeping in a hole in the ground whilst embracing a dingo -a native species of wild dog- as a personal heater. On colder nights they would sleep with two dogs and if the night was freezing, it was a "three dog night"...

In the early years, the band assembled three lead vocalists to make some early recordings in 1967 with Brian Wilson, initially going by the name "Redwood". Shortly after abandoning that moniker, the three founders hired a group of backing musicians, creating a group that was to be one of the most successful of rock's golden era... at least on the US side of the pond. 

Three Dog Night earned 13 gold albums and recorded 21 Billboard Top 40 hits, seven of which went gold. The first hit came with "One" (US #5)- written and recorded by Harry Nilsson. They had three US number one songs: "Mama Told Me Not to Come", which was also their only Top 10 hit in the UK, "Joy to the World" and "Black and White". Dunhill Records claimed an astounding 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 by the group were written by outside songwriters. Notable hit covers include:

Randy Newman- "Mama Told Me Not to Come" (US #1)
Laura Nyro-"Eli's Coming" (US #10)
Russ Ballard- of Argent "Liar" (US #7)
Hoyt Axton- "Joy to the World" (US #1)
"Never Been To Spain"- (US #5)

Elton John/Bernie Taupin- "Lady Samantha" & "Your Song"
John Hiatt- "Sure As I'm Sittin' Here"- (US #16)
Leo Sayer- "The Show Must Go On" (US #4)
Harry Nilsson- "One" (US #5)