DPO presents Three Dog Night in season kick-off of Rockin’ Orchestra Series
The most common approach involves amateurs with a burning desire to get into the music business, who meet at someone’s garage or rec room, set up their equipment, and begin by practicing cover songs, popular hits that most know by ear and for which few ever see any written music. Somewhere in the process, one or more of these aspiring rock stars will compose a song or two, and the group will practice performing its new, original music.
I don’t have access to the actual statistics, but I’m willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of these ventures end in years of mutually fond memories and little else. The music business is a hard taskmaster (this said from the perspective of personal experience).
Does it help if those involved in the startup of a rock band have some actual music industry experience? Definitely. A caveat here: there’s music industry experience, and then there’s music industry experience. Here’s a case in point….
It was the ‘60s. A young vocalist named Cory Wells was touring with Sonny and Cher, (music industry experience) when he met Danny Hutton, who had been loading and unloading records at the Disney studio (music industry experience, sort of…) before recording as a solo artist (music industry experience). See my point?
In 1968, they decide to pool their money and their talent and start a rock band of their own. But what to call the group? Hutton and Wells? Wells and Hutton? In the ‘60s, the conventional naming technique of referring to a group’s principal talent in its name had all but disappeared. While such groups as Loggins and Messina; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young still followed the convention, the practice began to revert to one of picking highly unusual and often extremely esoteric names for rock bands, e.g., Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane, Crystal Harp, Steely Dan.
Not to be outdone, Hutton and Wells came up with a name that – while suitably cryptic to comply with the governing fashion – actually had a basis in conventional usage. Well, sort of…. It’s reputed that, on cold nights, Australian aborigines in the outback sleep with their dogs for warmth. The coldest evenings are known as three-dog nights….
Armed with a name that could stand toe-to-toe with the most enigmatic of band names, Three Dog Night went about ensuring that its name would not only be suitably mysterious, but it would also become a hallmark in the world of rock music for outstanding harmonies and arrangements. Virtually unknown itself, Three Dog Night threw in its lot with new and mostly undiscovered songwriters, recording music to the words and melodies of Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Elton John, Laura Nyro, Paul Williams, and Hoyt Axton.
And, man, did the evenings ever get warm.
Not to date myself, but I can remember water skiing at Lake Cumberland and Lake Herrington during summer days and joining my Ski Club buddies at night in our campground or in the lodge to enjoy a variety of refreshing liquid beverages and dance to the music of Three Dog Night. I found it amazing how upwards of sixty men and women could dance and – at one and the exact same time, with little or no direction – sing Jeremiah was a bullfrog; he was a good friend of mine completely in tune! Hey, this is my flashback; I can remember it the way I want, right?
Three Dog Night: Live with Orchestra at The Schuster Performing Arts Center
Saturday 11/12/2011 8pm
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Joy to the World wasn’t the only one of Three Dog Night’s hits we and the rest of the world danced and sang to. After all, the group has had twenty-one consecutive Top 40 hits and twelve straight gold LPs, selling nearly 50 million records by the mid-‘70s. And the group continues to top the list of artists with the best Billboard Top 100 Chart average.
Still as good as ever, the 2011 version of Three Dog Night appears to be tireless. Beside founding members Cory Wells and Danny Hutton on lead vocals and original keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon, the group now includes guitarist Michael Allsup, with Paul Kingery on bass and vocals and Pat Bautz on drums.
Their concert schedule is, to say the very least, formidable. In the last 25 years, the group has performed over 2,000 shows, including two Super Bowls. They were so busy, in fact, that it wasn’t until 2009 that the group released its first single in all that time, Heart Of Blues backed by the ballad Prayer of the Children. Face it; you rest, you rust.
43 years after it started, Three Dog Night looks back on a career that resulted in a body of work with 21 songs that became Top 40 hits. Reading the names of some of those titles, I can hear the music in my head: Mama Told Me, Joy to The World, Black And White, Shambala, Easy To Be Hard, An Old Fashioned Love Song, One, Eli’s Coming, and Celebrate.
If you want to hear them again, go to the Schuster Center on Saturday, November 12 at 8 pm for Three Dog Night: Live with Orchestra. Experience Three Dog Night, backed by Music Director Neal Gittleman and the DPO. It might be cold outside, but don’t worry.
They’ve got the dogs to keep you warm.