November 27, 2017 Interview – Chuck Negron
No one is perfect, in fact, we are all flawed by nature. We make mistakes, we stumble and fall, but if we are lucky, we learn from our mistakes to become a better person. One of the original three lead vocalists in the legendary Three Dog Night, Chuck Negron, is also not immune to such harsh realities of life. Sustaining ups and downs, all these years later, Negron stands strong.
A vital part of the success of Three Dog Night, Negron’s voice is easily recognized on such Classic Rock tunes including “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” “Joy to the World,” and “One.” An equally vital part of Rock-n-Roll history, Negron continues to move forward, turning his attention to family, but keeping music an important part of his daily routine.
Teaming up with his daughters Charlotte and Annabelle, as a family, they recently released Generations – a new album full of classic as well as modern Rock undertones. Excited to talk about it all, Negron sat down to chat about the work behind Generations, his perspective on life, the roads travelled he with Three Dog Night, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music for nearly six decades. and, as one of the original lead vocalists of Three Dog Night, you built an eternal legacy in Rock-n-Roll history. Through all these years of working in music, how would you describe the wild journey you have been on?
Chuck Negron – It’s been a real gift being able to have the kind of success that I did with Three Dog Night in my twenties going into my early thirties and to have such an impact on the culture. With 21 top 40 hits and the kind of touring that we did all over the world, it was fantastic! As time goes by, from decade to decade leading up to 2017, the music is still on the radio. I still hear “Joy to the World.” I have kids, and my youngest is 16, almost every year one of her classes in school does “Joy to the World.” They alter some of the words but they all sing it in choir and it is really nice to be part of the Americana so to speak. It’s been a real blessing.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly sounds like it. You were a vital part of the band’s success as one of their three vocalists. As you mentioned, between the late ’60s in through the ’70s, you had a slew of hits. There were ups and downs, but do you overall have fond memories of your time in the band?
Chuck Negron – Yeah, it was a wonderful time. I mean, we helped change the landscape of Rock-n-Roll. Rock-n-Rock was new, it started in the ’50s going into the ’60s. It was a new business and when we came along we really changed the landscape by upping the stakes in the sense that we made it big business. We started doing stadiums, baseball fields, and arenas that were never played by Rock bands. We really turned it around into big business.
CrypticRock.com – That is true. After Three Dog Night, you remained thoroughly active in music. That in mind, back in June, you released a compelling new album entitled Generations. It is a rather unique album where you in fact work with your daughters. Tell us, what was the process behind Generations?
Chuck Negron – Well, my two youngest girls, Charlotte who was 19 and Annabelle who was 13 when we started, they are now are 16 and 23, they had been singing with me. Charlotte performed with me when she was 10 at the Hollywood Bowl in front of 17,000 people. She would come up on stage and sing with me. We recorded a duet together which was with one of my earlier solo projects when she was 9. She has been singing with me all of her life, and Annabelle, of course, followed suit when she was old enough. She wanted to go on stage and start singing.
Generations was kind of a natural progression. For me, it was something I wanted to do because I wanted to share the experience with my two girls while I still could. Just showing them what dad did when he was gone all the time. It was a wonderful project and they were so good!
CrypticRock.com – It is a really fun listen. It is also quite a refreshing listening experience with a broad range of sounds. It has Classic Rock vibe with a very modern twist. Was the objective to deliver something fresh and modern sounding?
Chuck Negron – Well, you know I am who I am. What comes out of me has something that has been in there a long time. As I grow as a musician my tastes change. My life has been like most lives, up and down. I have been very fortunate for the last 26 plus years just to have a very special life. These songs reflect my faith in people, God, and just the positive things in life.
CrypticRock.com – It does have a uplifting aura. Those who have not heard Generations are in for a real treat. You come from a family of entertainers. Obviously yourself, now your children, and your late cousin Taylor, who was a really fantastic comic. Was artistic expression something ingrained in your family from a young age?
Chuck Negron – No, not really. When I was a child, there was no one in my family that was in the business. It was something that I chose that I liked and I did well. Taylor was the same thing. If Taylor had any example, maybe I was the only one in the family that had gone into show business, but he also had a lot of friends who were. It wasn’t a family thing back then, but it is now (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – It is a great tradition to start with your kids and it shows. You have your book, Three Dog Nightmare, where you outline an honest recount of your triumphs and pitfalls of your younger years. Recently releasing a new edition, would you say penning this book provided you an inward reflection in order to takes strides forward as a person?
Chuck Negron – Yes. Initially it came out here in the late ’90s, then we did a second edition, a third edition which we just added a 100 pictures, then this edition where I wrote 11 new chapters. Life changes and life goes on, you just express what your feeling in those moments. Since we lost Corey Wells and Jimmy Greenspoon from Three Dog Night, I wrote a chapter on each of them which reflects my love for them and how much I miss them. Those things are new in there. I also lost my twin sister, so there is a chapter on her in there. There is a lot of chapters dealing with some of the stuff that happened back with Three Dog Night that I now have another view of.
CrypticRock.com – Right, life leads you in different directions, and you never know where it is going to take you. Loss is something very difficult to deal with. Has loss changed you as a person?
Chuck Negron – Yes. The finality of it all is daunting and relentless. It never alters. Time becomes your friend because it makes it easier to deal with, but it’s a powerful thing that makes you reflect and wish you had done better.
CyrpticRock.com – That is completely understandable and quite true. You have gone through a lot in your life, as most of people do. Happiness is different for everyone. In your eyes, what is the key to striking a balance and finding happiness?
Chuck Negron – I think you said it, a balance. I think you have to strike a balance in your life with what you need to do, what you like to do, what you have to do, and try to keep on the right track. This is while always fulfill your obligations, especially if you have a family; there’s a lot of things that you need to do to make sure that everything is ok. You have to make sure that you take care of your family.
CyrpticRock.com – Those are very important bulletin notes for anyone’s life. With the album Generations now out, will you be perhaps touring with your daughters some in 2018?
Chuck Negron – Yes. Annabelle is in school though. She is in high school and we want her to have the opportunity without interfering, so we won’t be doing much. We have been offered a couple of TV shows and we’re talking about it now to see if we are going to be doing it. If we did them, we would do a couple of the new songs with the girls.
Charlotte just graduated college, so she’s available. We will see what happens. We are going do a couple of things, but as for us touring together goes, I want Anabelle to have her total high school experience without that interference.
CyrpticRock.com – That sounds like a great idea on all ends. You will in fact be on the Happy Together Tour 2018, so that is something to look forward to. Touring can be stressful and obviously you spent many years on the road. Everyone deals with stress differently. That in mind, would you say that touring wore on you over time?
Chuck Negron – With Three Dog Night it was difficult because the mindset, the psyche, was different. It was the ’60s and there was experimental drug use and we didn’t have the information that these drugs were dangerous because there really wasn’t that much information. It was the time of all sorts of new pills that no one knew about and the prognosis was that most of them were not addicting, but as it ends up they were. There was a lot of experimentation in a very naive way, so that in itself made touring difficult – it changes how you sleep and how long you are up. You put it into the equation of doing concerts, traveling every day, and it can become quite a difficult thing to do.
CyrpticRock.com – Absolutely. Obviously you live and learn, and things change as you get older. Speaking of the times, things have changed a lot through the decades. As we speak, it seems like there is a lot of division in America. Thankfully music has always been something that united – for example, “Joy to the World” is a very positive feeling song. Comparing the ’60s to present day, is there a correlation to social conflict now?
Chuck Negron – I think that back in the ’60s and ’70s the music was much more eclectic. I mean, the top 100 consisted of The Beatles, Three Dog Night, The Stones, The Archies. It was just from one end of the spectrum to the other, it had everything, all genres of music was on one chart. So, when you were listening to a radio station, you were listening to music of the world. You were listening to everything!
For the most part, the message was very uniting, or it was talking about social issues and social commentary, but in a way about us getting together. Today, with music, the lane is much more narrow. There aren’t many different kinds of things. Then you have Pop, which has all kinds of messages. Then you have Rap, which, for the most part, is angry commentary on social issues, but it’s very divisive. It’s not something that everybody can embrace because of the language and the storylines. The music is more divisive than the music back when I was younger, but that’s a sign of the times. People are more frustrated. People are angrier.
When I was in my twenties, there were a couple of spiritual songs, but no one really judged anyone’s faith or religion. Today, there is so much anger about different ethnicities and religions. In a sense, Christians are fair game for everybody (laughs). The political landscape is the most divisive I’ve ever seen in my lifetime where, in a sense, your freedom of speech is being squashed because there is so much hate. People do not want to hear your point of view, as a matter of fact, they will physically stop you. In a sense, people are much more frustrated, angrier, and have a different view of some of the constitution then we did. In that sense and others, it’s very, very different.
CyrpticRock.com – Those are some very valid points you raise. Hopefully, as a culture, we could come together and actually communicate and hearing each other, that is the key. You have to actively listen, and sadly, many people are not doing that right now.
Chuck Negron – No, they don’t want to hear. They don’t realize that they are not listening because their agenda is to not let you speak. It’s not even to stop what you are saying. They don’t want you to say anything, they want you to listen to what they are saying, agree with what they are saying, and then shut up. It’s very sad.
Hopefully it changes because it’s very frightening that our universities across America are having one point of view that is being taught. The professors and the teachers, and almost all of the schools, are nearly 80% liberal. Since there is such a divide in the country, ideologies are so different, the kids are getting one point of view and then they are learning to shout down the other side. They are not learning another point of view because they are not listening to it. You are correct, in that sense, they are not listening.
CrypticRock.com – That is a very fair point. My last question is actually pertaining to film. On CrypticRock, we cover a broad range of music as well as Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of these genres, do you have any favorites?
Chuck Negron – I really wasn’t, but I have to say, when I was very young, when I saw Psycho (1960), it freaked me out, and Psycho now is nothing compared to new films (laughs). I watched Annabelle (2014) recently. There are some things I find very frightening. Horror is definitely a very powerful genre.
CrypticRock.com – Psycho is a classic for sure, and Alfred Hitchcock remains to be the king of suspense.
Chuck Negron – My ex-father in law, John Vernon, worked with Alfred Hitchcock on a couple of movies. I always enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock, and there are some really good movies in that genre. The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) was filmed in my first wife’s house! That was a trip, so I have connected the genre in various ways (laughs).