Three Dog still has its day
The biggest band in the world between 1969 and 1974 might surprise you: Three Dog Night sold more records, had more Top 10 hits and sold more tickets than anyone. And since 1986, they’ve been touring under a near-complete reunited lineup.
“After the Beatles, we were the first (band) to do stadiums – a lot of people don’t know that,” says co-lead singer Danny Hutton. “It was a pretty crazy time, but I just love the early days. As I always tell my sons, you’re only new once.”More than the band’s early fame and fortune, though, Hutton misses the crazy musical melting pot of the late 60s and early 70s, when rock n’roll, blues, folk, R&B and even heavy metal acts played side-by-side. “What I loved about music then was that you had so much musical variety and richness all at the same time – everything is in musical ghettos now,” he says. “You go to Ozzfest and you’ll see 40 metal bands. We toured with James Taylor; he opened, we went on second and Led Zeppelin closed. I loved all those guys. It really was almost like (the movie) ‘Almost Famous.'”But don’t think Hutton is pining for glory days gone by: In addition to playing for rapturous crowds, Three Dog Night continues to sell huge numbers of albums, top classic rock station playlists and their instantly recognizable songs have enjoyed a pop-culture resurgence of late in movies and on television. A recent episode of “Lost” prominently featured their hit “Shambala” as a major plot point.”We’re asked to do special projects all the time – it’s amazing, all that stuff,” Hutton says. “People ask ‘how come I still hear ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come?’ Why is it still kind of popular?’ The songs are timeless, and they’re about things everyone can relate to, like love, human emotion and just plain party songs. They don’t get dated. The chords are good, and we performed them well. It can be timeless.”To celebrate their timeless popularity, Three Dog Night completed a recording session with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road studios.”Abbey Road studio was magical,” he says. “I thought, ‘Wow this is a bunch of pros – this is the real deal.’ The whole feel of the songs kind of changed with the London Symphony. It became like a Phil Spector wall of sound.”Three Dog Night tours nearly 80 days out of a year, but they’ve since learned how to do it in style. “First of all, we just do fly dates,” Hutton says. “I usually go out on a Thursday and I’m home for Sunday dinner. I (always) have a big Sunday dinner with all sorts of people. We get to go out, have fun and be home with our families by the end of the week.”Hutton’s musical adventures have inspired his sons to embark on their own musical conquests – all three are either professional musicians or involved in the music industry. But dad is still just dad, not the world-famous singer of “Joy To The World” or “Black and White.””I get no respect – the only respect I got was when I bought our house from ALice Cooper,” he says. “But I just tell ’em you’re only new once, and listen to music other than what you like to play.”Hutton, along with original singer Cory Wells, guitarist Michael Allsup, keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon and new bassist Paul Kingery and drummer Pat Bautz, is currently in the middle of recording new, original Three Dog Night songs for an upcoming album – just don’t hold your breath yet.”It’ll be done when it’s done,” he says. “I have studio at my house, and we were doing it last night. We’ll record from 3 until 8, and then just have some dinner and red wine. We’re flexing our wings a bit, but it works out perfectly.”In the meantime, Hutton and Three Dog Night will keep on delivering their timeless hits as long as the masses want to hear them, which is likely to be for several years to come.”We play every venue we can think of,” he says. “And the more magical the setting, the better. After Beaver Creek, we’re doing two days in September the Honolulu Symphony and before that, it’s Maui, so it’s all good. I can’t believe I get paid to do this.””I have no plans on retiring unless the audience retires me.”Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado