Three Dog Nightmare: The Chuck Negron Story
Author: Chuck Negron
Publisher: Renaissance Books
Reviewed: September, 2009
Okay, listen to me real good. I want you to think back to when you were a teenager. Now, try to remember when you were listening to the radio and a Three Dog Night song started to play. I’m thinking of songs like “Shambala”, “The Show Must Go On”, “Joy To The World” or “Old Fashion Love Song”. Was it just me or did you also get the impression that these guys that were in a band whose name was a reference to a cold winter night were wholesome, good living kind of guys? I mean, c’mon! To hear the definitive voice of the group, Chuck Negron, as well as the perfect harmonies provided by Danny Hutton and Cory Wells, you couldn’t help but think that these guys were church choir boys who hit the big time in rock and roll.
Well, if you were thinking these same thoughts as I was, you would have been SO wrong.
To read Chuck Negron’s autobiography, Three Dog Nightmare, you get the sick feeling that you’re watching 25 year long train wreck happen and there’s not a darn thing that you can do about it. The book is a by-the-numbers recounting of Chuck and the band personifying the old adage of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
As with many, if not most, successful artists, Negron tells the story of a rough life during his childhood in very tough world of the Bronx. To deal with the internal pains and demons that he wrestled with, Chuck pursues sports and music, achieving excellence through diligence.
However, it wasn’t long before Negron found another way to deal with his personal demons and insecurities: Drugs. With the same diligence that he gave to his sports and music pursuits, Chuck applied to his drug use. And yet, in spite of it, he managed to score some very lucky breaks that ultimately lead to the formation of Three Dog Night.
In “Three Dog Nightmare”, you’ll read about the stories behind their many hits that led to over 20 Top 40 hits and 13 gold albums resulting from their 40 million in album sales. Like many hits, you’ll be amused by just how simply the hits came about. You’ll also learn of the in-fighting, insecurities and petty jealousies that ultimately tore the band apart.
Sadly, the most pathetic character in the Three Dog Night story is Chuck Negron. With a “warts and all” approach to his story, you’ll soon agree with him that he was not a very good person to hang with. You’ll read of his many torrid love affairs, both with women and with heroin. You’ll wince at the story of exploding body parts. You’ll hear mind boggling tales of mountains of money being literally blown on mountains of cocaine. You’ll read about the beautiful homes and the fleet of expensive cars.
By the time you get to the last five of the thirty-three chapters, you’ll be thinking to yourself, “There ain’t no way this guy is going to live” (forgetting, of course, that he has to because he wrote the book). Chuck doesn’t just hit bottom. He breaks through the bottom of a very nasty, rusty bucket of self-destructive drug addiction and comes back out on top as a new man who knows that he is blessed way beyond that which he deserves. You sense that the self-absorption that dominated his Three Dog Night days has been replaced with humility and knowledge that he’s been given an incredible second chance. Chuck has taken his eyes off of himself and the personal destruction the litters his past and now reaches out to others who are presently where he used to be.
When Chuck Negron isn’t busy performing during his still successful tours, he performs charity concerts for the Union Rescue Mission and personally works with patients of Cri-Help. When you’ve read “Three Dog Nightmare”, you’ll know that Chuck is, indeed, a completely different man.