Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 50° Cloudy
A&E >  Music

Three Dog Night’s Danny Hutton said band, show is better than ever

UPDATED: Thu., June 20, 2019, 4:17 p.m.

After more than 50 years in the music business, it’s no surprise Three Dog Night founding member Danny Hutton has so many stories to tell.

There’s the period of time when the band and Led Zeppelin used the same private jet to get from show to show.

“They’d be doing their tour, paint their name on the side of the plane, and then we’d go on tour and we’d paint our name on the side of the plane,” he said.

Or the time he got to spend with one of his best friends, Brian Wilson. Hutton was the best man at Wilson’s last marriage and got to sit in on “Pet Sounds” recording sessions.

“He’s like my mentor,” Hutton said. “I learned a lot from him. They throw around the word ‘genius’ but he is probably one of the real deals.”

But the stories Hutton most likes to tell are about Three Dog Night, which he affectionately calls his baby.

The band – guitarist Michael Allsup, drummer Pat Bautz, Hutton, bassist/vocalist Paul Kingery, keyboardist Howard Laravea and vocalist David Morgan – will headline the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox on Sunday.

Three Dog Night released its debut single, “Nobody,” in 1968. The next year, the band’s second single, “Try a Little Tenderness,” peaked at No.29 on the Billboard Top 40 chart.

Every single the band released after that, including “Mama Told Me (Not to Come),” “Joy to the World,” “Black and White,” “One” and “Shambala,” through 1975’s “Til The World’s End,” from “Coming Down Your Way,” made the Top 40 chart.

When he talked with the Spokesman though, Hutton was most excited to share news about the band’s upcoming release, its first album of new material since the “It’s a Jungle” EP in 1983, which will include six songs Hutton wrote himself.

“We always used to get nailed because everybody would politely say ‘You discovered so many writers,’ ” Hutton said. “They basically said ‘You didn’t write any of this.’ My old theory was when Randy Newman walked into the studio and said ‘Here’s a song, Danny, you want to do it?’ and I had written something, I’d say ‘I think maybe I’d rather do Randy Newman’s song.’ ”

Critics would say Three Dog Night performed covers of other people’s songs, but Hutton feels that the band “resurrected” them.

Hutton references Harry Nilsson’s song “One,” from the 1968 album “Aerial Ballet.” But the song wasn’t a hit until Three Dog Night included the song on its self-titled album.

“My mother always used to say ‘Self praise is no praise at all’ ” Hutton said with a laugh. “But we’re good arrangers and actually good writers. But we could get a song and pull it apart, move it around, change the verse to the chorus and do a good outro.”

That knack for writing and arranging has served Three Dog Night well as the band works in Hutton’s home studio on its new album, which Hutton hopes to have completed by the fall.

Hutton said he always listens for “happy accidents” when he and the band are recording, moments that, though unintentional, end up being just what a song needs.

Some of the songs on this new album are older, while others were written more recently. Hutton encourages his bandmates to not worry about playing the song as it’s written, and play what feels natural.

“I basically had the templates for this stuff,” Hutton said. “I brought in the band and they’ve all added their innocence. What it is is they’re fabulous professional musicians but you have to get all the rules out of them by throwing them in the water. They’re so good, they don’t drown.”

Fans can look forward to hearing a new tune or two when the band takes the stage at the Fox, but Hutton doesn’t want to overload the audience with new material.

For one, he said that’s when fans usually go to the bathroom or grab another drink.

For another, Hutton knows fans want to hear the hits.

“To pull out a hit to put in a new song, I’m not there to please myself,” Hutton said. “I’m pleased when the audience is pleased.”

And Hutton is sure the audience will be pleased, because he thinks the band and its show is better than it’s ever been.

A Three Dog Night show, he said, starts like a rocket ship and just keeps going.

“You can be dark. You can be political, lecture, but it’s not the way we do it,” he said. “I want people to leave with a big smile on their face going ‘Man, I didn’t know they did so many hits. They sound great for old guys. They don’t look that good but they sound good.’ ”

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email