Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Ignorance Is Dangerous

Ignorance is Dangerous


The Bronx in the 1950s was a perfect time and place to be an adolescent. World War II was behind us and the country was prospering. Both pre-baby boomers and boomers filled the neighborhood streets, thus creating a playground for friends and rivals to compete in the games and sports on the asphalt of this wonderful borough. I grew to depend on my friends and admired the pride we all exhibited during spirited schoolyard contests. Throughout my years of competitive sports, I found the team players always had each other's back, understanding that the common goal was to win and not to be concerned with statistics.

These were my experiences; however, some band members in Three Dog Night approached their careers, and life in general, differently. Regrettably, there can be a tedious and precarious period when different philosophies clash in the pursuit of artistic cohesiveness. Only time can establish the hierarchy in a band. Hopefully, there is no dissension when band members find themselves with less status or rank than they believe is deserved. Nevertheless, the standing of all concerned is established organically, without a word or a vote, but by a preponderance of the units actions. Feelings get hurt when power shifts, leaving one or more of the artists input diminished as they find themselves adjusting to their new role. Overcoming this hurdle can be a lofty undertaking, but they must attempt it to keep the band socially, spiritually, and artistically viable.

To be candid, at first I viewed Danny as the principal player in Three Dog Night and never thought it would be a problem. He perceived himself as the leader. He was creative, savvy in public relations, easy to get along with, and, at that juncture, he was the most suited to speak for the band. I enjoyed the time Danny and I spent together, he was fun and we had much in common. Before Van Dyke Parks turned us on to the name Three Dog Night, we recorded "It's for You" with Greenspoon, Schermie, Wells, Hutton, myself, and a drummer.  

Around 1:30 AM the following morning, I was awakened by a call from Danny requesting my presence at his place. When I arrived, he explained he had the tape of the "It's for You" session we had done just hours earlier. He asked if I would lie on the floor, place my head in between the speakers, and insisted I smoke some pot to enhance the experience. Hearing the recording moved me deeply for it was special! Danny had experienced similar feelings and wanted someone to share them with. I was touched he called me. In my mind, that recording was 100% better than the version on our first album, but, regrettably, that master tape was lost so we were forced to record it again.

        The Common Denominators: Respect and Music!

Since the three singers were often looked at as separate entities, when one of the three brought in a song they wanted to record, it was considered his project. The success or failure of that song would be attributed to him.

I was unaware of this unusual situation until "One" sold a million reaching:
  • Number 1 on the World Record Charts
  • Number 2 on Cashbox
  • Number 5 on Billboard
The manner in which the band acknowledged our milestone was to congratulate me by shaking my hand. To me, this was bizarre, but I was very proud to have been important to the team! On occasion, this mindset of attributing hits and misses to a specific singer established an unhealthy, competitive environment that could be stifling for some, separating the band into different factions.

Our backgrounds varied. Some of us had done extensive live performances while others learned the trade primarily in the recording studio. It did not take long for the seven of us to get up to speed on all facets required in order to fulfill our roles as proficient recording artists and live performers.

When one of the band members was emotionally, or physically, compromised and unable to contribute, the band would pick up the slack. Sometimes, this forced us to work hundreds of extra hours in the recording studio in an attempt to adjust to the absence of a downed colleague. In these circumstances, ignorance is bliss for knowing the facts behind their inability to contribute would most likely be upsetting.

Having three previously solo artists was a precarious undertaking often leading to insecurities, grandiosity, and major league competition, but, in the end, this led to common ground and respect!

The Three Dog Night Concept

The bands follow-up single to "One" was "Easy to Be Hard," also featuring my lead vocal, creating some tension. I totally understood for I was getting most of the face time on TV contributing to a falsehood that I was the only lead singer in Three Dog Night. In 1970, Cory's Number One hit, "Mama Told Me Not to Come," defused the anxiety and restored some balance in the band.

The concept of Three Dog Night revolved around the uniqueness of three lead singers. It was paramount to establish our brand that each lead singer contributed hit records stimulating individual face time on TV, magazines, industry publications, and during live performances. Our concept of three different voices creating three distinct and diverse records would only work if we were patient and helped each other realize our goal.

Envy has no place in a band, although it did appear from time to time. It is a powerful drug much like hate so it must be eradicated before it can breed a cancer there is no cure for! Envy is as covert as the Brown Recluse spider, as offensive as prejudice, and as unscrupulous as Judas.

The three of us shared a bond, a three-part harmony, that linked us together. We needed each other to create this powerful and unique gift from God. Our three-part harmony was our most effective and recognizable asset. Not embracing this blessing was ignorant and potentially dangerous, as was not respecting one another, and naïvely getting caught up in all the distractions success makes available. This is easier said than done for young men in their twenties. Only one of the original seven was able to achieve this seemingly lofty goal of remaining focused and grounded--Cory Wells. He did not waver in his work ethic or personal behavior, and never let us down. The remaining six members were all involved in reckless behavior at one time or another.

Danny would have our next Number One single, a song he had found while vacationing in Europe. This project was a positive example of cohesiveness in the band. Cory felt a children's choir on the chorus of "Black & White" would be perfect so he arranged for the children to record and showed them their vocal parts. We all continued working early into the mornings and once Danny sang his vocal, it was completed.

Fascinating Facts and Figures

One of my dearest friends, and Three Dog Night's Road Manager in the 1960s and 1970s, Bob Tommaso, recently emailed me some chart positions that were not available for years since the publications were out of print. With the advent of Google, these missing charts were recovered. I found the magazine publications and chart positions from 1968 to 1976 enlightening. I am enclosing the information Tommaso gathered from the Record Industry Charts depicting the positions of the Three Dog Night in those exciting and magical days.

"Information Without Perspective is Incomplete."

Ten people are responsible for the following music--Cory Wells, Jimmy Greenspoon, Joe Schermie, Floyd Sneed, Danny Hutton, Michael Allsup, Chuck Negron, Richard Podolor, and Bill Cooper.

Three Dog Night was blessed with 7 million-selling singles and RIAA Gold Record Awards. We also received 12 Gold Records that eventually turned Platinum. According to our unwritten mission statement, our hits were attributed not just to the band, but also to the lead singer of said performance. 

Here are the 7 million-selling RIAA Gold Record singles and their artists:

  • "One," "Joy to the World,""An Old Fashioned Love Song", and "The Show Must Go On" all featured me as the Lead Singer.
  • "Mama Told Me Not to Come" and "Shambala" were attributed to Cory Wells.
  • "Black and White" was courtesy of Danny Hutton, with assistance from Cory, myself, and the band.  
Other band achievements according to the Billboard, Cashbox, and/or the Record World Top 100 charts include:
  • Cory Wells is credited with Number One hits of "Mama Told Me Not to Come" and "Shambala."
  • "One," "Easy to Be Hard", "An Old Fashioned Love Song (video),""Joy to the World", and "The Show Must Go On," featured me as the Lead.
  • Danny's song, "Black and Whiteachieved Number One status as well.
  • Plus, "An Old Fashioned Love Song" ranked #1, "Pieces of April" ranked #6 and "Till the World Ends" ranked #11 in Record World's Adult Contemporary genre.

Time to Move On

I must admit I am completely fatigued being associated with the mortality of Three Dog Night when factual information, and historical data, prove differently. If the truth is not laced with a modicum of understanding and fairness, you run the risk of appearing unkind. With that in mind, I will proceed carefully.

History has proven that many bands experience dysfunctional relationships with members who do not get along, yet are capable of working together. However, when a band member, who is responsible for much of the drama, perpetuates consistent division and is involved in unconscionable sabotage, it is inevitable that he will crack the foundation hastening the demise of the band. 

In the world of celebrity and Rock & Roll music, there is usually enough blame to go around when the end is near! Let me add, at this point in time there is no need, nor desire, to become a Monday morning quarterback on a game that ended over thirty years ago. Who is to blame for the beginning or the end of this creative juggernaut is irrelevant, for we are now men in our 70's with decreasing endurance for such mundane matters! I find it more rewarding, and forgiving, dwelling on the positive enabling me to perceive all complicated matters with a broader, softer perspective.

One's state of mind can fluctuate, becoming unpredictable, when words of an inappropriate or untrue nature are spoken by someone you have worked so hard to forgive and forget. In these unpleasant situations, when it is difficult to let it go, I pray for the understanding that if I do not let it go, the resentment will kidnap my mind and serenity leaving me spiritually floundering.

A Chance to Spread My Wings

One of my rewards when I got clean and sober on 9/17/91 was not returning to this artistically barren group that was sadly crippled by the resentments and bitterness harbored by the two remaining partners for each other.

I moved forward releasing 7 solo albums of new material, 5 singles, a best selling book, and a "PRISM" Award winning DVD. I also produced a Three Dog Night album entitled "Three Dog Night--Greatest Hits--LIVE! " made from unreleased live concert tracks from 1972 Three Dog Night masters I own.

My latest album, "Negron: Generations," features my two youngest daughters Charlotte, 23, and Annabelle, 16. Working with them fulfilled a dream of mine not just to share my songs with them, but to also record and sing harmony with these beautiful girls.

Solo Albums


PRISM Award winning DVD

The PRISM Award recognizes the accurate depiction of drug, alcohol, tobacco use, and addiction in film, television, music, DVD, interactive, and comic books.

Live in Concert DVD

I am a published writer in respected health journals.

I am a best selling author!

Three Dog Nightmare has been incorporated into the course of studies in rehabilitation facilities across America. 

Please excuse my display of pride, but from where I came from to where I am today, it took many people, and God working through them, to help me find my way. The fact that I was capable of this body of work is something akin to a miracle, especially since only five years before I attempted my first solo album, I was in a lockdown mental ward suffering from dementia and my voice was gone! 

Healthier Than I was In My 30's & 40's

Cri-Help taught me about the life-changing benefits that exercise and weight training offers an addict of my ilk. With guidance and persistence, over a period of many years, my body and mind were healing, transforming a broken, 126-pound shell into a healthy, and physically imposing, 200-pound man. At almost 60 years of age, I was healthier and stronger than I had been through my 30's and 40's.

A dream of mine, which I always included in my prayers while in Cri-Help, was to be accepted back as a member of Three Dog Night. Upon my graduation from rehab, I stayed clean and sober one day at a time, worked with new addicts and alcoholics, studied voice, and trained every day hoping the time would come that I would be given another chance by my old band mates.

The day came where I was face to face with my old partners and offered a position back in the band! I quickly realized I would have to find a new dream for I had come too far and been through too much to accept a position I felt would be detrimental to my sobriety and my serenity. Maybe it was simply too much water under the bridge, for it all felt foreign and unnatural. I was comparatively new in sobriety and more fragile than I realized.

Many years have passed and, by the grace of God, my life is full. I avoid conflicts with Three Dog Night as much as possible. At times, I have overreacted when confronted with behavior that I feel is inappropriate and unnecessary by my former partners or their associates. My writing to you is in no way stimulated by anything but the wave of emotions and nostalgia I experienced when I lost two of my old comrades!

The Authentic, Original, And Only Three Dog Night

When Cory Wells and Jimmy Greenspoon passed away, so did Three Dog Night in my heart and mind. The latter is not meant with any malice, but with a dose of reality and sadness at the end of an important part of my life. What has stimulated a reaction in me are the admirers of Three Dog Night's music who understandably desire a reunion before any more of the original members pass. Not appreciating the reality, it is simply too late. Cory Wells and Jimmy Greenspoon were far too important to be replaced! 

To be honest, we all did the best we could for almost a decade, considering we were in our twenties at a time in American history unlike any other--peace and love, the sexual revolution, experimentation with drugs of all kinds, political and humane rights involvement, and, of course, the explosion of Rock & Roll into mainstream big business. 

We wanted to change the musical landscape and achieve unprecedented success. We did, but our celebrity, exploration into drugs, and insecurities ended our long-term goals of even greater success. By 1976, we had sold 55,000,000 records and had 21 consecutive Top 40 hits. Irregardless, we lost four of the original seven making it painfully difficult to continue. 

American Pastime

There was one more album we had to complete to honor our recording contract; however, it would be a daunting task in that we were emotionally, physically, and artistically drained. As I look back, regrettably, I remember that Danny, Cory, and I rarely, if ever, utilized our greatest asset, our three-part harmony, together on this final album. We could no longer put our feelings aside and were now unwilling to work together. Instead, we recorded our parts independently. I did work with Danny singing harmony on "Mellow Down" and on a track in which he wanted to incorporate the theme music from the movie A Patch of Blue. It sounded great, but he never completed it. I worked with Cory on a few of his songs and sang harmony on the single, "Everybody Is A Masterpiece." The hubris to not utilize what helped us achieve our success was not just ignorant, but also dangerous!

We all knew this was the end for the remaining members of Three Dog Night could no longer maintain the high level of artistry attributed to them throughout their recording career. Vince Lombardi once stated, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." That sums up our situation while recording this album. Observe the back cover of the album, (I have enhanced the image so you can clearly see the hands on the clock.) You will see a subtle, yet glaring, acknowledgement that it was the end for the hands on the clock read a little past three.

Cory did his best work on this project with "Easy Evil" and "Yellow Beach Umbrella" as well as a few other selections you will love. Danny did one song, "Mellow Down," and I contributed 3 solo efforts and a duet with Cory on the single "Everybody is a Masterpiece." Exhausted and spiritually spent, we completed American Pastime. 

Not long after, we were on tour with a lineup I had no visceral connection with, and were musically and spiritually alien to me. My feelings magnified while recording for it was not Three Dog Night in any way. It was without the majority of the men who made the original records. Floyd Sneed, Michael Allsup, Joe Schermie, and Danny Hutton were no longer with the band. This led to our final curtain call at The Greek Theater at Griffith Park in Los Angeles on July 26, 1976. The adventure that had begun in 1967, ended in 1976!

God bless all the original members of Three Dog Night and thank you for the experience of a lifetime! I also want to thank Jack Ryland, Bass, and Skip Konte, Chamberlain, for their contributions on Cyan, Hard Labor, Coming Down Your Way, American Pastime, and the Number One singles "Shambala" and "The Show Must Go On." 

I love you all and miss the learning, creating, and camaraderie. We knew our worth as did the millions who bought tickets to see us live or purchased our records. We were the band no one wanted to follow on stage at almost every festival. Big bands would insist on performing before us, and this happened at many of the festivals we did. Many of the canonized and enshrined wanted nothing to do with Three Dog Night Live--for we were just too good!

Left to right: Jack Ryland, Michael Allsup, Skip Konte, Floyd Sneed, Danny Hutton, Jimmy Greenspoon, Cory Wells, Chuck Negron