Meet Three Dog Night!
This week’s “Wednesday Bookmobile” tells the story of one of the most popular and successful bands of the early 70’s – and one rock star’s spectacular fall from grace.
Let begin with the music.
Here is one of the biggest hits of 1972, performed by the band “Three Dog Night” with lead vocals from Chuck Negron – here is the iconic smash hit “Joy To the World”:
That terrific clip is from “Reelinintheyears” on YouTube – check them out for terrific material from rock’s past!
Three Dog Night ruled the music charts for many years, with 8 straight gold or platinum albums! Among their many hits were “One”, “Celebrate”, “Eli’s Coming”, “Mama Told Me (Not To Come), ” “Never Been To Spain” and many more.
The band had three leader singer: Chuck Negron, Cory Wells and Danny Hutton. The most prominent voice of Three Dog Night is often attributed to Negron.
By the time the group disbanded in 1976, Negron had a very serious drug problem. In 1999, he chronicled his story in his autobiography, with one of the greatest cover photos and titles ever:
“Three Dog Nightmare” Indeed!
I bought this book several years ago, but just got around to reading it – and all I can say is:
Chuck was the most flamboyant member of the group, and he reveals unbelievable stories about his life in the band – the good, the bad, and the VERY UGLY.
He has a fascinating childhood, and once he discovers his singing voice, it’s a fun read as he meets Cory and Danny and they form a band. They become overnight rock stars, with hit songs and world tours. They were living the “rock star” life…to the point that Negron was having so much sex that his penis exploded.
Yes, it did.
You will not believe some of the stories in this book, especially once Chuck gets hooked on drugs, which causes a spectacular downward spiral, leading to this mug shot:
From this incident to years and years of drug abuse, Negron reveals shocking detail after shocking detail of his downward spiral…before we go on, let’s take a break to appreciate the music again.
Another reminder about just how great Chuck’s voice was – here is Three Dog Night performing “Celebrate” from 1975:
Negron had a great voice, the band was hugely popular, but he seemed to have a “death wish” – and he describes it all, revealing the worst of himself and his addiction over the years before he finally reached bottom. He is honest about his addiction and what it took to finally kick his deadly habit.
As the Singer said candidly in an interview to Boomerocity.com:
“Yeah, well, I guess there’s a bigger plan for me. Ha! Ha! The book has become part of a program of many rehabs across America. I’ve ended up speaking. Several months ago, I spoke in Kansas for many judges and probation officers and incarcerated men about addictions. It seems that I’m helping a lot of people understand addiction. It seems to be a greater purpose for me.”
Chuck explains why he was so brutally honest about his life:
“There have been many people who have said that it’s touched them. One of the reasons is that it is so straight forward and honest and it’s not glamorizing or romanticizing something that is ugly and very, very sad. People see themselves in that – not only in addiction but in many other obsessions. It helps people. There’s no disclaimer in it where you can kind of get the side door out. It’s really just blatantly honest. I think people just relate to that.
“I wanted it to help people and I knew if I said, ‘Blah, blah, blah, but . . .’ that would give a lot of people reason to turn away and go, ‘Oh, yeah, this guy . . .’, you know? I didn’t want to do that. At that point in my recovery, that’s exactly where I needed to be and had to be was owning everything with no disclaimers, no pointing the fingers at anybody else. Just accepting that this is something that I did. At that point, it was very, very important to write it that way.”
I have to tell you that, while the stories of the band’s hit songs are terrific, the story of Negron’s slide into drug addiction is equally riveting. It really is shocking that he survived this trip!
“Three Dog Nightmare” is a great book: a history lesson on rock music in the 70’s, an up-close look at how stardom can destroy you, and a tale of redemption as well.
But back to the music: here’s another great clip of the band in their prime, here they are performing “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”:
I loved the book, and if you can take some really tough sequences about the depths of addiction, it’s a riveting tale.
Negron isn’t the only Rock Star who has shared candid personal stories:
Pete Townsend shares his story from The Who to solo career success: and the nervous breakdown during it all…it’s a raw and candid look at his own life, and you can read more about it here:
Another classic rocker also shared his story:
Keith Richards wrote ALL of the great Rolling Stones songs – and he fought a battle against heroin addiction and a LOT with Mick Jagger as well – click here to see his fascinating memoir:
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