Three Dog Night, a band that marked the 70’s

Dimanche 25 Janvier 2015

Interview. Three Dog Night was a very popular band in the 70’s. They sold more than 40 million records all over the world. Danny Hutton, founding member of the vocal trio, has been kind enough to answer to my questions.

Life in Laurel Canyon in the 60’s became a myth. How was life there at the time?

I've lived in Laurel Canyon since 1963. My first house was up the street from the Canyon Country Store. Jim Morrison, Jack Nicholson and Harry Dean Stanton were my neighbors. It was a wonderful, magical, innocent time, full of creative people who had a new way of looking at the world.

(Danny Hutton still resides in Laurel Canyon – he has lived there for over 30 years and still draws on the creative energy that the canyon offers. He and his family live in a home that was previously owned by Alice Cooper).

Three Dog Night’s songs are often used to illustrate the life of the hippie days. Do you consider Three Dog Night as a hippie band?

I never considered Three Dog Night as a hippy band. We were not into communal living. We all had been in the music scene for years and could really sing and play. I had been on 5 record labels as a writer, singer, arranger, and producer by the time I was 23. I had 2 top 40 hits in L A in 1965. I had the 2nd hit in the Laurel Canyon community.The Byrds had the first hit in April 65(Tambourine Man) and I had the 2nd one in Aug.65 (Roses and Rainbows).

What were the band’s musical influences?

Our band had diverse tastes in music. Folk, Blues, Rock, Country, Classical, R&B and Pop. Little Richard, Bobby Blue Bland, Laverne Baker, Chet Atkins, Steve Cropper, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and the music of Gustav Holtz are some of our influences. We have been on all types of musical charts.

Three Dog Night is famous for its ability to transform unknown songs from other singer-songwriters into hits. What kind of songs were you looking for?

We have always looked for songs with good melodies and choruses. Lyrics about emotions or fun, told in a unique or clever way.

Three Dog Night's songs sound very spontaneous. How was the recording process?

Our first album was done in 3 or 4 days. Basic rhythm track with guitar or keyboard overdubs, then vocals. Cory sang "Try a little tenderness" live with the band, no overdubs. We started getting more complex on some of our later albums, adding a lot more textures, but we would still do live recordings if it served the song.

Three Dog Night has only recorded one album in the 80’s. What do you think of 80’s music?

I think it was wonderfully diverse. From Punk (I managed a band called Fear in 1980), The Clash, to CBGB's acts, Heavy Metal, Prince, Paul Simon’s Album (Graceland), Queen, Nirvana.

I read in an interview that Three Dog Night disbanded because you were disenchanted with the music industry. What had changed in the music industry in the mid-70’s?

I think we were burned out by the work load and the pressure we had to come up with hit records. We hold the record in Billboard Magazine for having the most consecutive top 40 hits of any group. It was a lot of hard work!

Which countries are the more sensible to your music?

We mainly tour in America, Canada and Japan. We are touring in New Zealand in January with Heart and Foreigner. We perform about 60 dates a year.

Is there a change to seen you live in France someday?

One of my dreams is to tour France. When I finished High School in 1961, the first place I went to was Paris. I will never forget it. My wife and I have friends in Dordogne. We visited them last year. We are talking to our agent at WME and hopefully we'll get to go there soon.

What is your best memory with Three Dog Night?

Playing in the afternoon in Washington DC on the 4th of July at the Washington Monument in front of 500 thousand people and then flying to the beach in Miami and playing for 100,000 people.

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Boris Plantier