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Three Dog Night founder Cory Wells dies at 74

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10/22/2015 (4 years ago)

Wells was talent behind such classics as 'An Old Fashioned Love Song,' 'Joy to the World'

Cory Wells, one of the original founders of the Seventies super group Three Dog Night, has passed away at the age of 74. Wells had been performing with the band as recently as last month, when he complained of severe back pain.

Cory Wells' story was one of musical talent overcoming almost insurmountable odds.

Cory Wells' story was one of musical talent overcoming almost insurmountable odds.


10/22/2015 (4 years ago)

Published in Music

Keywords: Cory Wells, Three Dog Night, death, super group, songwriters

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Wells' story was one of musical talent overcoming almost insurmountable odds. Born to a single mother in Buffalo, N.Y., Wells grew up on tough streets, absorbing the music his black friends listened to.

"My rhythm and blues roots show in my music," Wells said in 1978. After a stint in the Air Force, he moved to California with the Vibratos, which evolved into Cory Wells and the Enemys.

The Enemys became the house band at the Whisky a Go Go nightclub on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. It was there that Wells met Sonny and Cher at a party thrown for Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

Sonny and Cher invited Wells to tour with them, where he met future band mate Hutton. Teaming up with Chuck Negron, the three struggled for a name. Learning on how Australian aborigines kept warm, pulling up three dogs to sleep with on the coldest night, the name Three Dog Night stuck.

The band's super-smooth sound became well known with such hits as "Joy to the World," "One," and "An Old Fashioned Love Song." Three Dog Night's songs became AM radio staples; eventually recording 21 Number One hit songs.

"Cory was an incredible singer - a great performer, he could sing anything," Hutton said in the statement this week. "We had been together since 1965 and I am in shock at this sudden loss."

More importantly, the band opened the way for such premier songwriters such as Elton John, Harry Nilsson, Laura Nyro, Hoyt Axton and Randy Newman.

Newman's "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" one of the Three Dog Night's biggest hits, sold more than a million copies. The song, about a naive man's introduction to the wild Los Angeles party scene ("That ain't the way to have fun, son!") remains on heavy rotation today.

Wells, on lead vocals, would frequently tell of a phone call he later received from Newman. "He said, 'I just want to thank you for putting my kids through college.' Then he hung up."

"Our whole claim to fame is we discovered a lot of unknown songwriters who turned out to be giants in the industry," Wells said last year in a newspaper interview. "We brought them to the forefront and they became famous."

His wife of 50 years, two daughters, and five grandchildren survive him.


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