Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Three Dog Night

One of the bands that tends to attract a great deal of attention on my list of bands that have not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is Three Dog Night. Despite the fact that they were not particularly known as songwriters, their interpretations of songs did provide them with a great deal of popularity and up to 40 million albums sold during their period of peak popularity between 1968 and 1973 [1]. While those people who appreciate songwriters would not find Three Dog Night to be among their favorite choices (their songs were mostly written by such songwriters as Laura Nyro, recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame herself, Randy Newman, Paul Williams, and Harry Nilsson), their interpretations of songs like “Mama Told Me Not To Come” and “Joy To The World” are still popular and enduring to this day. Also, just about every other band with their level of albums sold and popular hits is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Why not Three Dog Night as well, named reputedly after a freezing cold Australian night.

Three Dog Night’s Contribution

Since none of the three lead singers of Three Dog Night were known as songwriters, the main contribution of the band is in its singles and in its ability to popularize the songs of others. As song interpreters, Three Dog Night were quite excellent, and even though the band has not had any new hits for a while, they still perform at places like Oregon’s Spirit Mountain Casino [2]. The band has an impressive body of work, including fourteen gold albums (one of which went platinum in the 1960’s), as well as three #1 hits (“Black And White,” “Joy To The World” and “Mama Told Me Not To Come”) and eight other top tens, as well as ten other top 40 hits [3]. Such a body of work, which includes other classic songs like “One” and “Just An Old Fashioned Love Song,” is still well-regarded in Classic radio. Considering their standard of performing and the enduring nature of their body of work, Three Dog Night is definitely worthy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Why Three Dog Night Is A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

While the band is no Chicago [4], they did have twenty-one top 40 hits, 11 top 10 hits, and 3 #1 hits. That body of work, played by a band that is still touring the nostalgia circuit and still being played on the radio, along with being a band that was successful in popularizing harmony singing (albeit three-part rather than four-part), is worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Their popularity was focused between 1968 and 1975, but that sort of concentrated popularity has not prevented similar bands like The Mamas & The Papas from induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Three Dog Night is in that general range of band in terms of their popularity (if not their songwriting). Given that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has generally been kind to the songwriters, the odds are pretty good that Three Dog Night will eventually have their day in the Hall of Fame as well.

Why Isn’t Three Dog Night In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

There are probably a couple of reasons why Three Dog Night is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and that is a short period of popularity as well as the fact that they did not write their own songs. While they were not the most notable artists of their generation, they were popular enough, and influential enough in their use of harmonies and in their popularization of the songs of others, that they deserve induction.

Verdict: Put them in, as they are one of the late 1960’s acts that deserves induction that is still not in, and there are not very many bands at this date that can say that.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Dog_Night

[2] http://spiritmountain.com/event/three-dog-night

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Dog_Night_discography

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-chicago/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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79 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Three Dog Night

  1. Chris corman says:

    100 percent agree

  2. jeffbeckinc says:

    I agree that 3 Dog Night should be inducted, just saw them this past weekend live and they were great (especially considering their advancing age). They might not have wrote much of their material, but they had the ability to recreate songs into their own style quite successfully.

    Big Chicago Fan as well, glad they finally made it. Here’s my blog on Chicago and RRHOF if you care to check it out:


    • Thanks 🙂 I’ll take a look at your Chicago entry. My thoughts on Three Dog Night are that they were great song interpreters, and as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has recognized that sort of musician before, it would make sense to do so for Three Dog Night as well.

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Who Did It First?: Great Pop Cover Songs And Their Original Artists | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. John says:

    you left out the fact that they virtually invented the ‘stadium tour’ to accomodate the huge concert draw they had. Thier live show in the early 70’s was one of the best.

  5. Vicki Wilson says:

    Three Dog Night should be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Songwriters such as Harry Nilsson, Laura Nyro, Paul Williams, Hoyt Axton and others wouldn’t be so well known or popular if it wasn’t for TDN. Their harmonies were and interpretation of songs were impeccable.

  6. Tom says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Another artist who has been tragically overlooked is T Rex.

    • Yes, that is true, and that is one of the acts I would like to write more about.

      • Tom says:

        …and Harry Nilsson!

      • I’m not sure when I will get to Harry Nilsson, but his cover of Badfinger’s “Without You” was an excellent one. I would put him, along with Joe Cocker and a few others, as some of the great song interpreters that deserve induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

      • Tom says:

        That was actually one of the few covers he recorded. I only recently went down the rabbit hole in his catalog, and I was stunned. Not only did he write his own songs, and was a brilliant lyricist and arranger, but his voice was flawless. (Before he destroyed it in a drunken screaming contest with Lennon.) Think Mel Torme, but in rock. A good starter would be the albums ‘Aerial Ballet’ and ‘Harry’, released in ’68 and ’69, respectively. Every song is a stunner and both John and Paul were huge fans of those records before him and John ever met. You’ll have a newfound respect for his immense talent after you listen to those those.

      • I will definitely have to take a listen to those albums. Admittedly I’m not familiar with his discography and that likely constrains me from writing about him. Having the support of the Beatles is definitely something that should give a band some serious credibility, though.

      • Tom says:

        You said, “Having the support of the Beatles is definitely something that should give a band some serious credibility, though.”. Doesn’t get any better.
        After those two, ‘Nilsson Sings Newman’ which is his Randy Newman cover album which showcases his unique and heartbreakingly beautiful voice better than any other (I like Harry’s covers better than the Newman originals. He breathes new life in to them.) , and the soundtrack for ‘The Point’, which was a children’s cartoon he wrote, and wrote the soundtrack for. Those, and the two I already mentioned are the true highlights of his recording career, in my humble opinion. Those should definitely keep you busy for a while. Get back to me in 6 months and let me know what you thought.

      • That sounds good to me; that should keep me busy for a while, hunting down those works and giving me a listen. :p As far as this feature goes, I want to make it a centerpiece of my own patreon campaign given the interest it drives among my readers. 🙂

  7. Big Al says:

    The fact that it took until 2016 for Chicago and Deep Purple to be inducted is a clue to how flawed the induction process is. Three Dog Night was an incredible band — as mentioned above, the first to sell out STADIUMS! Elvis didn’t write songs either, so that’s a red herring. It takes talent to turn a song into a real rocker — for example, compare the original recordings of “Blue Moon” to the way the Marcels sang it. Three Dog Night did that with many diamonds in the rough. I was born and raised in Cleveland, OH, and remember a tremendous amount of Three Dog Night airplay. For decades it was hard to find anyone in America who wasn’t familiar with “Jeremiah was a bullfrog!” That alone should get Three Dog Night inducted.

    • Good points, and yes, you’re right that the way that the HoF votes is sometimes quite odd.

      • John says:

        yeah, the pervasive radio play of TDN singles well into the 80’s, is a very good point. Whenever I ask people who are younger than me, say, between 40 and 50, they dont quite remember who they were….but when you quote lyrics, they KNOW TheShowMustGoOn, Shambala, BlackNWhite, and all those earlier realllly famous songs….from the radio airplay. Adult stations still seem to love PiecesOfApril and TilTheWorldEnds. This longevity Pop tunes is something that truly should be taken into consideration.

      • Yes, catalog value is one of the qualities I look for when it comes to examining someone’s worthiness as a band. And Three Dog Night certainly has catalog value, although growing up when I did only their most successful songs were familiar to me.

  8. Mitch says:

    Three Dog Night (no brainer), and also The Grass Roots, The Turtles, and (Don’t shoot me) The Partridge Family.

  9. John says:

    I just realized that my Rock Idol is not in the Hall of Fame: Ian Hunter. He and his first band, Mott the Hoople, were so influential to various later rockers….. and he still rocks on!!

    • I must admit I don’t know much about Ian Hunter. Was he in any other notable bands?

      • John says:

        Hunter disbanded MottTheHoople in ’75, then began releasing solo albums, to the day. Recent albums have been released under the moniker Ian Hunter and the Rant Band…..and he has toured incessantly ever since the 70’s. The most important thing to research is the crazy years of Mott, and the notoriety and wildly GREAT reviews they recieved. They were the first band to play on Broadway in 74, (for a week, no less) and had Queen as thier opening act!! You also need to find out how much newer rock bands paid tribute to Mott as a huge influence. The other thing to research is Ian Hunter’s songwriting skills, which are stellar, and widely touted.

      • That’s how I’ve heard of the name before, because Queen opened for them. I don’t mind having research to do, though :p.

  10. Chris says:

    So, how do we get the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to put Three Dog Night in where they belong?

    • I think if you want to look at how to do it, look at the campaigns for such acts like Janet Jackson. People have to know that there are others who care about Three Dog Night.

  11. John Colbert says:

    TDN were great. I wish they were inducted. I love the Hall in Cleveland. This year i’ve been voting for the Moody Blues and Bon Jovi.

  12. Guy Minardi says:

    The reason they are not in the RRHF is beacause while they had a string of hits in the late 60’s earlly70’s and were “cool” they soon became uncool. A little too much commercial pop success, overexposure and maybe lack of original music relegated them to an almost bumble gum type tag. The kiss of death for a rock group. I call it the Joan Jett syndrome. Joan Jett had 2 songs that had any airplay. One of those songs was less original than anything ever done. It had a nice opening drum riff and catchy hook. Joan Jett with 2 mediocre songs gets into the RRHF while if compared to the body of work by 3DN , is a total joke.

  13. Bill Kopase says:

    The Rock and Roll hall of fame sees fit to put in Madonna but won’t Put in a band that sold more concert tickets than just about everyone including Crosby, Stills, and Nash and had 18 consecutive top forty hits with their own produced versions of songs. Shame on hall of fame.

  14. John says:

    The late great Cory Wells, the voice of Eli’sComing and MamaTold Me and Shambala and NeverBeenToSpain is quoted as saying that Ahmet Ertegan, who is a music business powerhouse and figures prominently as a power that be in the RRHOF, hated and resented the band, because they turned him down when signing to a label, and went with ABC Dunhill. His famous resentment stands to this day. you know what they say about a woman scorned…..

  15. Cheran A says:

    They are still rockin and rollin, playing sold out venues to this day. Definitely not a band that “was” great and popular, they still are.

    • I still see their concerts advertised and their tours are still popular, that is true, but they are clearly a legacy act at this point, not charting new hit singles. That is what I mean by “was” popular, referring to the pop charts not to their obvious appeal to loyal fans.

    • John says:

      the three lead singers were Chuck Negron, Danny Hutton, and Cory Wells. Chuck has not sung with the band since the mid 80’s…Danny and Cory wouldn’t let him back- his historic famous heroin addiction and it’s pitfalls apparently bruised them too much, regardless of his sobriety. Danny and Cory toured as Three dog Night since ’90 or so, and they sang Chucks leads as well as their own. (I always thought it would be more appropriate to call themselves 2 Dog Night.) Cory died of cancer in 2015, and Danny still tour’s SOLO as Three Dog Night. As much as I love Danny Hutton, I dont think he should still be doing it under the original moniker…it makes me sad. The original four instrumentalists of the band were divided amongst the Danny/Cory version and Chuck’s Solo band… Jimmy Greenspoon and Joe Shermie have now passed on.

      • I assume that the reason the band name is still used is because that is what people are fans of. Otherwise it would seem more like a covers band than seeing the real thing.

      • John says:

        of course. It’s Danny’s legal right to use the name, based on thier original legal papers, which allowed Danny and Cory to sue Chuck when he began recording/touring in the early 90’s….He is forced to bill himself as “Chuck Negron, the voice of Three Dog NIght.” For me, and I repeat- I love Danny Hutton, it would be more graceful for Danny to bill his own name followed by “formerly of 3DN” or something like that. …and it’s weird and deceptive for him to be singing the lead vocals that were sung by Chuck or Cory. If you UTUBE it, you can find Danny Hutton singing lead on “Joy To The World”, which was Chuck’s original lead. It’s fine, but not the same. Same thing with “Old Fashioned Love song”. But that is just me, maybe, as I was such a huge fan in the early 70’s. Its all about the almighty dollar, I guess. Of course, none of this diminishes the band’s right to be in the Hall of Fame.

      • I agree wholeheartedly and I feel the same way about bands like Badfinger that have had similar divides.

      • Cheran A says:

        You do forget Michael Allsup, a founding member is still touring with the band.

      • That’s a fair point.

      • John says:

        Yes, Michael still plays guitar for 3DN, as did keyboardist extraordinaire Jimmy Greenspoon until he passed a few years back. Drummer Floyd Sneed plays with Chuck’s band, as did Joe Shermie before he died a few years back.

      • It appears that the instrumental players split up as well :/

      • John says:

        yep, I’m guessing it was all about each of them were looking for work at various times and landed where they could get the gig.

      • That sounds like a reasonable theory.

      • John says:

        the original band contract had Danny Chuck and Cory as principal decision makers and within that, two out of three was the winning decision. The four instrumentalists were hired to the band after the three singers formed the contract. Of course, Mike, Joe, Jimmy, and Floyd were integral parts of the band, throughout all of the success years.

      • Yes, from what I have read that is a fairly common arrangement in many bands.

  16. Debby says:

    Elvis didn’t write his either.

    • There are plenty of acts that have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that were not known for their songwriting, and so while I view songwriting as an additional quality that makes someone more worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I do not view it as a requirement.

    • John says:

      The “COVER BAND” label was spoken attempt by Ehrtegan to discredit them. I think a “cover band” is one that performs HITS that were made by other’s. 3DN used rather unknown songs written by others. It’s funny, after the first album, many songwriters were submitting songs to them in hopes that they would take them. Elton John was thrilled that they recorded Lady Samantha and Your Song. (Danny’s wonderful recording of YourSong was done well before Elton released his version).

      • That’s very true. Still, there is a stigma attached to bands and artists who are not known for songwriting.

      • John says:

        Yes, you are so correct. And in folk’s minds, this subject conjures up the words “creative’ and “artist”. The band was obsessed with making ‘hits’. (there are so few out there who are not obsessed with making HITS). They wanted to earn a living, and be appreciated. But, the bandmembers had certainly paid thier dues by the time Danny had the idea of a 3 lead vocal rock band. These seven bandmembers were certainly creative and artistic when they put their songs together. It’s become a cliche in describing what they did, but these guys truly made these songs their own using their own artistic music talents, via the immmaculate vocal and instrumental arrangements. Those albums (minus the final two) were cohesive albums that were unmistakably 3DN upon first listen. There were songs here and there that were dogs (no pun), but every great band had dogs. Anyway, my point is that we are not talking Menudo here. This was a bonafide Rock and Roll band, with alot of pop leanings.

      • I agree, and I grew up enjoying the band’s music. I still find myself singing along with their songs when I hear them. There is no question to me that they are a legitimate rock and roll band.

      • John says:

        nathanalbright….have you ever read Chuck’s biography, “ThreeDogNightmare” ? It’s alot of fun, especially if you are a big fan of early 70’s rock…. including an anecdote of when a very drunk Janis Joplin came backstage in pursuit of Cory to praise him, or ‘date’ him or something, etc because of his soul singing during the show, and (happily married family man) Cory trying to avoid her, and a very drunk Chuck ended up getting in a fistfight with her. fun stuff.

      • I’m not familiar with the book, but that sounds pretty exciting to read :). I’ll have to look for it.

  17. Judy lloyd says:

    We the generation that rocked loved Three Dog Night. The influence was so strong that we still listen to the songs that we loved to sing and knew every word. The greatness of the vocals of all three is undeniable. Cory Wells had that amazing soulfull voice and Chuck Negron when he sang the song One Is the loneliest #. Wow and Danny Hutton as well. The three together touched us and rocked us . The songs were heard because of them. They sang the words of obscure music that may have otherwise never been heard. They did contribute to that wonderful era of coming of age at the top of a generation alongside and equal to other greats and will live on and be loved by us . The fans of Three Dog Night

  18. Judy lloyd says:

    The greatest voices of all three cannot be denied. We the generation sang along and rocked to each song. The songs buried may never have been sung had they not looked and found them. The impact is undeniable that songs like Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog, and One Is The Loneliest Number , Liar, Eli’s Coming and many more we’re great. Proven by the sheer number sold. And it’s not the only band that did not write the songs they sang. They should be given the honor due them. After all these years the songs have stood the test of time and we the generation that rocked to them are still listening and singing. That’s good enough. Please honor them.

  19. Lawrence smith says:

    Three Dog Night not being in the hall of fame says volumes about the integrity or lack of that institution, and I use the word institution loosely. Moody Blues just being inducted in 2018….? Seriously?

  20. Ray philly says:

    It’s gotta be political because Elvis Presley never wrote a song so not writing songs can’t be the reason they were around long enough to be inducted .The grass roots are another super group that never made it I think the hall of fame is a bunch of idiots voting must be way to liberal

  21. Dave D. says:

    Love Three Dog Night. Excellent band. Eli’s Coming, Shambala, Out in the Country. On and on. The question that runs through my mind: Joan Jett and Madonna? Really? Guess it’s who ya know.

    • I consider some acts as setting the floor for who else should be accepted above them. I suppose Three Dog Night didn’t schmooze the nominating committee well enough? Personality seems to have a lot to do with when an act is inducted.

      • Dave D. says:

        Yeah. Elvis did not write his own songs either, but not taking anything away from the king. His favorite song was Never been to Spain. Shows he had very good taste in music.

      • Yes, he did have a good taste in music. I think that people make too much of not writing songs. When I look at an artist, their writing and producing only adds to their excellence in its presence, not takes away from the excellence of their performing in its absence.

  22. Rod says:

    I grew up listening to this band. After a long lapse of interest in them I’ve listened again lately. A lot lately actually. They were THE biggest seeking band in the world between 1969 and 1974. Very popular. .

    Cory Wells and Chuck Negron could really sing. I mean they really had it going on. Bob Dylan…. despite his status and all is a very poor singer by comparison. Being able to really sing is a talent. Why not credit talent. I’m not a Lady Gaga fan…. I’m 58…. but boy can she sing! Let’s recognize that with some honesty.

  23. Robert says:

    We put bands in that cant play, without There are machines and you call that a band list get real three dog night needs to be in rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame

  24. Terry Skinner says:

    Three Dog Night made our lives in the early seventies great they were a great band why they are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a goddamn question for the ages get their ass in there they deserve it

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