Bird & Animal Names In Rock 'n' Roll History - Part 18
Three Dog Night, that dog
Author: Robert Benson
Robert writes about rock & pop music, and vinyl record collecting.
Let's continue our ongoing article series here at DigitalDreamDoor about "bird" and "animal" groups and artists in rock and roll, this time exploring some 'dog' names.
Three Dog Night
The group Three Dog Night was a band that was formed in 1968 and included members Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells. They provided AM and FM radio with an eclectic series of singles oriented pop rock songs from 1969 through 1974. The band took their name from Danny Hutton's ex-girlfriend, who thought of the name when she read a magazine article about indigenous Australians, in which was explaining that on cold nights they would customarily sleep in a hole in the ground while embracing a dingo, a native species of wild dog. On some of the colder nights they would sleep with two dogs, and if a night was especially cold, it was a "Three Dog Night."
Danny Hutton worked for Walt Disney Studios where he recorded voices for animated programs,
while Cory Wells was the lead vocalist for the house band at the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go called the Enemies. Wells asked Hutton to team up and record, but Hutton wanted to focus on his solo career (he had minor success with a song called "Bright Eyes"). Hutton came up with the idea of a singing trio (secretly auditioning their friend Chuck Negron for the role) after noticing a display of classic cars while driving past the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angles. He marveled at the fact that each individual classic auto being an integral part of the overall display. He surmised it would be interesting to apply this technique with a group of talented singers, where each member would be a lead singer at one time or another. Interestingly among others that were considered to team up with Hutton and Wells were Billy Joe Royal (of "Down In The Boondocks" fame) and Crazy Horse founder Danny Whiten. They went with Negron and expanded the group to include several talented backing musicians and Three Dog Night was born.
Besides scoring an impressive string of eighteen consecutive Top 20 Billboard hits (eleven of which were in the Top Ten, including three number one hits), the group also showcased some of music's dynamic song writers including Randy Newman (who wrote the 1970 number one hit "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)," Harry Nilsson (for the Top Ten hit song "One" in 1969), Laura Nyro (who penned the Top Ten hit "Eli's Coming" in 1969), two Hoyt Axton written songs, "Joy To The World" which he originally wrote for a children's animated television special (a song that spent six weeks at the top position on the Billboard Top 40 in 1971) and "Never Been To Spain" in 1972. Russ Ballard wrote the group's 1971 Top Ten hit "Liar" and Three Dog Night also took Leo Sayer's song "The Show Must Go On" to number four in 1974. The band also hit number one with a David Arkin (father of actor Alan Arkin) and Earl Robinson penned tune called "Black and White," a song that was written in 1955 and also recorded by Sammy Davis Jr.
Other Top 40 Billboard hits by Three Dog Night included "Easy To Be Hard" (number four in 1969), the happy anthem "Celebrate" in 1970 (number fifteen), the sappy hit "An Old Fashioned Love Song" (number four in 1971) and the B. W. Stevenson penned "Shambala" (number three in 1973) among others. Their last charted single "Til The World Ends" was released in the summer of 1975.
In the late 1970's Hutton was managing punk bands including L.A.'s Fear and also formed a band called Danny Hutton's Hitter's who appeared on the "Pretty In Pink" soundtrack. The group reunited in 1981 and released their final record; an EP entitled "It's A Jungle." Hutton and Wells have continued to tour with other musicians as Three Dog Night and the group's music has appeared in numerous movies and television ads.
Friends since high school, Anna Waronker (guitar and vocals and the daughter of record industry mogul Lenny Waronker), Rachel (bass) and Petra (violin) Haden (two of the triplet daughters of famed jazz titan Charlie Haden), and drummer Tony Maxwell formed the alternative power-pop group called that dog. The quartet's debut, self-titled release in 1994 is an exciting blend of sweet melodies, crunchy guitars and inventive violin work. The record was a college radio staple and the lighthearted video for the single "Old Timer" was popular on MTV.
During this time that dog members became friendly with Beck and often performed on his albums, contributing to his release "Totally Confused." The band also toured with Beck, Weezer and The Rentals and band members played on the Weezer release "I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams."
In 1995, that dog released their follow-up album, an appealing concept album that
explored the emotion of love and personal crushes, the aptly named LP "Totally Crushed Out!" The clever album, filled with tight punk-pop, splendid ballads and three-part harmonies exemplified Waronker's continuing maturation as a songstress and included cuts like "Ms. Wrong" and "He's Kissing Christian."
A planned Waronker solo effort was planned, but instead her collection of emotionally depth filled melodic pop music was used for that dog's final album together, called "Retreat From The Sun" (1997). The group would also go on tour with various acts including Blur, The Wallflowers and The Counting Crows. But, in September of 1997, the band issued a formal statement announcing their break up.
However, all the members of that dog have remained active in the music business. Anna Waronker has released her solo effort, "Anna" in 2002 and has contributed music to soundtracks. Petra Haden has released two solo albums, in 1999 she released "Imaginaryland" and in 2005 she released a critically acclaimed re invention of the Who's classic album called "Petra Haden Sings The Who Sell Out," in which she recreated each song a capella on a cassette eight-track using only her voice. She has also contributed vocals and violin work to many bands including Green Day and The Rentals (among others) and in 2005 she joined the Decemberists as a full-time member. Rachel has kept busy as well, contributing vocals on albums by Jimmy Eat world, Ozma and Nada Surf and is a member of the reformed band The Rentals.
Taking their name from the British euphemism for imminent doom, the group the Black Dog carved a small niche in the early 90's mixing techno dance beats with ambient electronica. In 1992 this British trio of Ken Downie, Ed Handley and Andy Turner released a full-length debut called "Bytes," an airy mix of complex rhythmic patterns and diverse ambient European "intelligent techo" that was well received in Europe. A few albums later, the release "Music For Adverts (and Short Films)" saw this engaging trio reduced to just Downie as the lone "Dog." The album included a wistful collection of post-rave electronica and an adept mix of elements of techo rock, hip-hop and jazz.(Black Dog is also the name of the definitive Led Zeppelin tribute band, the closest thing to the live sound of the legendary group)
Three Dog Night Tidbits:
Members (as of 2009) - Danny Hutton, Cory Wells, Jimmy Greenspoon, Michael Allsup, Paul Kingery, Pat Bautz
Three Dog Night earned 13 gold albums and recorded 21 Billboard Top 40 hits, 7 of which went gold.
Danny Hutton unsuccessfully auditioned to become a band member for the Monkees in 1965.
On a number of early recordings one of their in-studio background singers was Donna Gaines, who would later find stardom on her own as Donna Summer.
In 2009, Three Dog Night are still touring, performing 85 concerts a year, with the lineup feature founding members Wells and Hutton, Greenspoon, Allsup, Paul Kingery and drummer Pat Bautz.
that dog Tidbits:
Tony Maxwell has worked as a composer, most notably on the films Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl (both written by Mike White).
Anna Waronker and her band frequently play clubs in the Los Angeles area.
Petra and Rachel have sporadically gigged with third sister Tanya (the three are triplets) as the Haden Sisters.