by Greg Gargs Allard

Corey Wells, one of the three-founding members of Three Dog Night, a group that recorded 21 top 40 hits in the late ’60s and early ’70s, died unexpectedly at the age of 74 on October 20. Wells, who sang on many of the band’s songs, is perhaps best well known for singing the band’s rendition of Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come.”

Wells, who had been touring with the band up until a month ago, had to leave the tour due to back pain.

Along with Wells, Three Dog Night also comprised Chuck Negron and Danny Hutton.

The band is perhaps the only group who has so many hits but is not in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. One of the reasons may be because they were mostly a cover band who rarely ever wrote their own material.

Negron left the group in 1985 and became a homeless man due to drug addiction. Sometimes, he recalled, hearing himself singing from car radios that he would go up to to beg a dollar from. He became sober in 1990 and although he has performed since then, never rejoined the band.

Starting in 1968, the band had also been originally composed of Jimmy Greenspoon (keyboards), Joe Schermie(bass), Mike Allsup (guitar), and Floyd Sneed (drums). Greenspoon passed away in March of 2015. Over time, the band has been through a myriad of lineups.

“Mama Told Me Not to Come” hot number one in 1970. The group scored two other number one hits: “Joy to the World,” and “Black and White.” All of their number one hits were sung by different singers.

From left to right: Wells, Hutton and Negron Photo by Ed Caraeff / Getty Images File

From left to right: Wells, Hutton and Negron
Photo by Ed Caraeff / Getty Images File

Lead vocal credits[edit] (from Wikipedia)

  • “One” – Negron
  • “Try a Little Tenderness” – Wells
  • “Eli’s Coming” – Wells
  • “Easy to Be Hard” – Negron
  • “Celebrate” – Hutton (Verse 1), Negron (Verse 2), Wells (Verse 3), who sings melody through the end refrain
  • “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” – Wells
  • “Out in the Country” – Group vocal in unison
  • “One Man Band” – Hutton sings melody with Negron on harmony on verses, then Negron takes the lead through the end refrain
  • “Liar” – Hutton
  • “Joy to the World” – Negron
  • “Never Been to Spain” – Wells
  • “The Family of Man” – Hutton (Verse 1), Negron (Verse 2), Wells (Verse 3)
  • “An Old Fashioned Love Song” – Negron
  • “Black and White” – Hutton
  • “Pieces of April” – Negron
  • “Shambala” – Wells
  • “Let Me Serenade You” – Wells
  • “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here” – Wells
  • “The Show Must Go On” – Negron
  • “Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)” – Wells
  • “Til the World Ends” – Negron
  • “Your Song” – Hutton
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