- - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In 1968 Chuck Negron formed the band Three Dog Night. Through the band’s nearly 10-year career, they sold more than 60 million albums and had 21 top 40 hits including “Joy to the World” “One” and “Easy to Be Hard.”

Mr. Negron spent many of those years riding high — in every way possible. When the band called it quits for the first time in 1976, Mr. Negron was deep in the grips of a serious drug addiction. Rehab followed, and then Three Dog Night reformed in the early ‘80s with Mr. Negron hopeful for the future. Sadly, a relapse  — and another rehab stint — in 1985 led to him parting ways with the band for good.

Mr. Negron went through not less then 30 drug programs before sobering up for good in 1991 — all of it outlined in his 1999 autobiography “Three Dog Nightmare.” Now Mr. Negron continues to tour and record as a solo artist, often sharing the bill with other ‘60s and ‘70s acts like The Turtles, The Cowsills and the Spencer Davis Group.

Mr. Negron discusses his life, music, sobriety and what body parts he won’t sign in public.

Question: Do you do a lot of autograph shows where you get to meet your fans?

Answer: I didn’t do any for years, other than book signings when my book came out. Then some friends asked me to do it. They said I’d have a good time. It’s nice to meet people who love what you do. I can’t believe the commitment these people (the fans) have made.

There is a group of people, and this is what they do with their money. They spend a lot of money and they travel all over the place. It’s more than I ever thought it was.

Q: What do most fans of your music say when they get to meet you for the first time?

A: They often say, “You were the first band I ever saw live.” I love that. And they say, “I love your music. I can’t tell you how much your music meant to me.”

Many say they can’t articulate how special it was. I understand that because when I was a kid, there was music that was very special to me. I relate. It’s an honor that what I’ve done has touched them.

Q: Is it odd when someone asks you to sign a body part?

A: Well, it’s really not too odd to sign someone’s breasts. There are parts that I won’t sign. And I have been asked to sign a few parts that were inappropriate. Not the parts, but the venue — inappropriate to sign in public. [laughs] I say, “Not here. We can talk later if you want.” [laughs]

Q: I know you’ve had one hell of a life and battled addiction for many years. How is the sobriety going these days?

A: Oh man, I’m great. I’m coming up in September on 25 years. Clean and sober. Life is difficult at times. Especially when you’re a parent. And have your own parents that get older. Both of mine are now passed away. Stuff shows up. Life is difficult. Everyone is kind of into what they’re doing and you can get lost. But I’m blessed.

Q: I know you’ve recently toured with Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad. How did that go?

A: We are still doing some dates. I’m also on the “Happy Together” tour this summer with Flo & Eddie. We are doing sixty dates through the summer. It’s good.

Q: What is the vibe like of the “Happy Together” tour with bands that came through the same era?

A: There is an understanding that we have all been through it. We try to be as gracious as we can to one another. Because no one needs the drama. Let’s all be nice. And then everyone gets along. They’re all old pros and they perform great. Because one bad guy can just make it a nightmare.

Q: Are you also updating your 1999 biography “Three Dog Nightmare”?

A: I’m writing some more chapters in the book because they want to rerelease it again.

Q: In your time in Three Dog Night, you created an amazing catalog of hit songs. Which ones are you favorites to sing when you perform live?

A: That’s a good question. My favorite for me to sing is “One,” because I can nail that. “Easy to Be Hard” is also enjoyable, but it is more of a challenge because I was at my best when I recorded that initially. So it’s 50 years later. I still do all the songs in the same key. So some of them are challenging.

“Joy to the World” is fun because of the reaction it gets from the audiences. The people get excited. I love singing “Eli’s Coming.” And “Celebrate.” A lot of them! [laughs]

Q: Fifty years on, how are you able to sing in the same key? What do you do to keep your voice?

A: I have no idea. I sing in the same key because the chords and the voice would just sound so different to me if I changed the key. Actually, I might eventually change.

Look at me talking like I’m twenty. Eventually, when I’m 80 [laughs]. Maybe on my centennial tour.

I save my voice for talking. That’s easy. The singing makes it harder for me to talk. [laughs]


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