When Chuck Negron comes to the Stafford Centre tonight at part of the "Happy Together" '60s-music package tour, he says it will remind him of his Houston connection and how important the state of Texas was to the success of his former band, Three Dog Night.
"We broke out in Texas," recalls Negron. "Our version of 'Try a Little Tenderness' broke in Dallas and then Houston [in 1969]. And Texas was the first spot we got to tour and play big places.
"The first stadium we ever played and sold out was the Cotton Bowl, so Texas holds a very dear place in my heart," he adds. "We felt like stars in Texas, and then we went home and to other places where we hadn't had any big success yet."
Closer to the Bayou City, Negron says he used to visit his mother who worked as a secretary to the Vice President of the Arabian Oil Company based in Houston.
"I went out once to meet her in Houston...in August...and I said, 'I'll never come back here again!'" Negron laughs about his experience with the climate. "But she lived there for three years."
The band that was to become Three Dog Night was formed in 1967 by vocalists Danny Hutton and Cory Wells, who then invited Negron to join. The three then hired a four-man backing group and between the late '60s and mid-'70s racked up 21 Top 40 hits, 13 gold albums, and played to massive audiences.
The hits included "Joy to the World," "One," "An Old Fashioned Love Song," "Try a Little Tenderness," "Black & White," "Celebrate," "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)," "Pieces of April," "Easy to Be Hard," and many more. All are collected on the CD The Complete Hit Singles.
Three Dog Night was one of the most commercially successful rock acts of the '70s, and yet because the members didn't write their own material, was looked down upon by the rock cognoscenti.
But no one could argue with their choice of material. Whether covers of songs done by other artists or unreleased tracks, they introduced audiences to the work of songwriters like Randy Newman, Paul Williams, Laura Nyro, Leo Sayer, Hoyt Axton and even Elton John and Bernie Taupin.