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10 Albums That Changed My Life: Chuck Negron

Singer Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, gives the 10 Albums That Changed His Life.
 Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night performs at the 2018 Happy Together Tour at Mayo Performing Arts Center on June 28, 2018 in Morristown, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night performs at the 2018 Happy Together Tour at Mayo Performing Arts Center on June 28, 2018 in Morristown, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

At age 77, vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, continues to perform up to 70 times a year, even while suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). In the last few years, Negron has also become a welcome part of the popular Happy Together Tour.

Growing up in the Bronx, New York, Negron learned his craft by singing with doo-wop groups. In 1967, he joined Three Dog Night, which became one of the most successful bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s with mega-hits such as “One” and “Joy to the World.” Later, after battling drug addiction, Negron went on to a solo career.

Negron’s autobiography, Three Dog Nightmare, is on its 4th edition, which includes additional chapters from the singer.

— Compiled by Ivor Levene

Johnny Mathis, Johnny Mathis

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My mother obtained a record player from this woman at work who had just gotten married. I was 16 years old and it was my sister’s album. I listened to Johnny Mathis and I thought, “God, this guy has one of the most beautiful vibratos I’ve ever heard.” His voice was so sweet. I loved that album. It changed the direction of what I was doing or trying to do vocally.

The Drifters, Greatest Hits

I thought this album was great, it had so many hits on it. I couldn’t believe how many hits there were. And it wasn’t just the sound of the music that got me, it was the songwriting. The album had songs written by Goffin and King, Leiber and Stoller, all the Tin Pan Alley writers, it was real Brill Building stuff. That really changed my outlook on writing music, the whole singer-songwriter thing.

The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones

When I was in college, someone had a Rolling Stones album and played it for me. I really had no idea who they were, it was before they had really hit. I looked at the album and thought, “Wow, who would buy this?” They looked so different, with their long hair and everything, and that was not who I was of course. These guys were so honest, so real, and so funky!

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

This was for me, and a lot of people, a really big change in the musical landscape. When I heard this album I realized that what I loved about music and songs were these magic moments that records captured, that these things will never sound the same as they did right then on that record. Not even if they sang it two minutes later right there in the studio, it would never sound the same.

Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced

I forced myself to get into the album. It was so foreign to me, and everyone loved it. What (Jimi) was doing was just so special, but I really didn’t understand it until I went to see him play live and thought, “Oh my God, look at what he’s doing. All those notes!” When I heard the record, I assumed it was all done with overdubs, until I saw him. That album taught me that it was possible to play more than one part at the same time.

Take 6, Take 6

When Take 6 came out, I really loved them because of the vocal harmonies. They were doing five or six part harmonies! It may have been a little slick for me, it was just a little too pristine, but it was still really good. I loved what they did, but it got a little too vanilla, excuse me for saying.

Various Artists, Saturday Night Fever

I thought Saturday Night Fever was one of the most in-tune soundtracks ever recorded. I think the film was written around the album, not the other way around. A lot of the songs were written well before anybody ever heard about the movie. A lot of the movie was adjusted for the soundtrack. It was an album of great songs and brilliant singing. It was the first thing in the whole disco thing that I liked.

Boston, Don’t Look Back

Years after Boston had put out their debut album, I heard them for the first time. I missed their debut because I was a drug addict. I was in rehab and one of the only addicts who still had a driver’s license. I was chosen to drive the vans and run errands. So when I was out driving, I would hear all of this Boston music. This was another group for me that had incredible harmonies, and the lead singer had an incredible range.

Steely Dan, Aja

This was another band that I had missed the debut due to my drug addiction. It’s not like the music wasn’t around, it’s just that by the time I was fully into heroin, I wasn’t paying close attention. So I ended up missing the intricacies of this band. What struck me the most about Aja was the production. I had never heard anything quite like this album before. This album made me realize that nothing was impossible in the studio.

James Brown, Sex Machine, The Very Best Of James Brown

When I was in college in 1961, and I was on the basketball team, there were many men of color, and they all listened to James Brown. When I first heard him, I thought, “Wow, this guy is so unique!” but, again, it wasn’t until I got through my addiction that I went out and purchased his albums. Brown taught me that if you open your heart and mind to things that are totally different, you’re going to learn something.