Three Dog Night finds continued success

If you happened to listen to the radio in the late 1960s or early ’70s, or if you typically make a habit of tuning into classic rock radio, chances are you would recognize many hits from American band Three Dog Night.

In the span of the five years between 1969 and 1974, the group racked up 21 consecutive Top 40 hits and 12 straight Gold records and sold more concert tickets than virtually any other band during the same period. The purveyors of songs including Joy To The World, Mama Told Me (Not To Come), Black & White and Shambala, Three Dog Night will be taking the stage at Casino New Brunswick Thursday evening.

Formed in 1968 in Los Angeles, Three Dog Night featured three lead vocalists: Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells. Although the group disbanded around 1975, it reunited in the ’80s without Negron and have since kept the group performing all over the world.

Speaking to the Times & Transcript last week from his home in California, Three Dog Night vocalist Danny Hutton says the group is keeping a live schedule that varies somewhere between 60 and 80 shows per year.

“A typical week for us has us leaving home on Thursdays for shows on Fridays and Saturdays. And then we are usually back home on Sundays,” Hutton begins. “Not too long ago though, we started working with a new booking agent and they stuffed as many gigs into the summer as they could which had the unintentional result of us landing back in the Billboard Top 200 albums,” he laughs.

At the turn of this century, Three Dog Night was given the opportunity to perform with the Tennessee Symphony Orchestra, shedding a new light on some of the group’s songs, some of which were nearing the quarter-century mark at the time. Hutton says that it was an honour to have their songs arranged by Moody Blues conductor Larry Baird in preparation for the show, which was released as a CD and DVD in 2002.

“Working with a symphony came about after speaking with our agent Robert Norman. I had chatted with him about wanting to work with a symphony and at the time, he was booking The Moody Blues so he is actually to credit for connecting us with Larry,” Hutton says.

“Having the opportunity to work with Larry was amazing though. Right from the outset, he had asked us not to change the way we play our songs, he actually wrote the symphony parts around us. It really helped shine a new light on our songs.”

Though Three Dog Night has a pair of new tracks available for purchase via its website (www.threedognight.com), the band has not made writing new music a top priority over the past 20 years. It is not that the group is content to simply rest on its laurels and live off their previous hits, Hutton simply doesn’t see a great deal of value in writing an abundance of new material.

“I really don’t think it is terribly conducive for bands like us to be making new music,” Hutton confesses. “Last century, if you had a hit record, you were known all over the country and that just doesn’t seem to be happening anymore. There are way more acts competing with one another these days. You can go in your bedroom, record yourself singing a song, post it on YouTube and you’re on your way. In a way, it is almost too democratic these days when it comes to new music; there is too much out there clogging up the path for others who are offering a better quality of music.

“If you were a part of a band in 1967, you would have had to have played in clubs for years, building your name before a record company would even look at you,” Hutton continues. “It took a lot to convince a record company to put money into you; it was a real filtering process before you got to make a record. These days, it seems to be quantity over quality but the truth of the matter is, the quality stuff will always rise to the top. Some things never change.”

Also not likely to be changing anytime soon is the business of Three Dog Night’s live schedule. Even when adding in the necessary travel days to their live schedule, Hutton is the first to admit that he wishes their schedule were a little more hectic.

“My partner Cory would like to slow down a little bit. He is an avid outdoorsman and is enjoying that pace quite a bit. But really, we are fortunate that we are still playing; it is about having a good time these days more than anything else. I would like to work more but we always manage to come to an agreement on how many shows we take on. Both of us end up compromising; it is just like being married,” Hutton says with a laugh.

Article published in August 24, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript