For Immediate Release: Los Angeles, CA (October 21, 2015) “It is with deep sadness and disbelief that I must report the passing of Cory Wells, my beloved band mate for over 45 years,” announced Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night. “Cory was an incredible singer – a great performer, he could sing anything. ... We had been together since 1965 and I am in shock at this sudden loss.”This is the second death the band has suffered in the last eight months with keyboard player Jimmy Greenspoon passing away on March 11.
Wells was born in Buffalo, NY and grew up in a divided home with, according to biographer Joel Cohen, an abusive step-father. As soon as he was out of high school, he joined the Air Force where he recruited other servicemen to form a vocal group.
After being discharged, Wells returned to the Buffalo area where he joined a group called the Vibratos. The group were told to move to the west coast if they wanted to make it so they changed their name to the Enemies and started playing clubs around southern California.
It was while the group was working as the house band at the Whiskey a-Go-Go that Wells met Cher who asked him to tour with her and husband Sonny. It was during that tour that he met Three Dog Night bandmate Danny Hutton and, in 1967, Danny convinced Cory to put together a band with three lead singers. Hutton found Chuck Negron at a party and the three came together to begin forming the Three Dog Night sound with the help of Brian Wilson who produced their first three songs.
The band released their self-titled debut album in October 1968 and, although the first single (Nobody) was not a success, their second, a cover of Otis Redding's Try a Little Tenderness (1969 / #29) introduced them to a new audience. The third single from the album, One, was their ticket to stardom, going to number 5 and becoming the first of eighteen consecutive top twenty hits between 1969 and 1974:
- One (1969 / #5)
- Easy to Be Hard (1969 / #4)
- Eli's Coming (1969 / #10)
- Celebrate (1970 / #15)
- Mama Told Me (Not to Come) (1970 / #1)
- Out in the Country (1970 / #15)
- One Man Band (1970 / #19)
- Joy to the World (1971 / #1)
- Liar (1971 / #7)
- An Old Fashioned Love Song (1971 / #4)
- Never Been to Spain (1971 / #5)
- The Family of Man (1972 / #12)
- Black and White (1972 / #1)
- Pieces of April (1972 / #19)
- Shambala (1973 / #3)
- Let Me Serenade You (1973 / #17)
- The Show Must Go On (1974 / #4)
- Sure As I'm Sittin' Here (1974 / #16)
After 1974, the band's releases started to falter on the charts and, by 1976, they broke up. Wells tried to start a solo career, releasing the album Touch Me in 1978 but, in 1981, the band reformed and released their first album in seven years, It's a Jungle (1983 / Did not chart).
Although Wells lived a very modest lifestyle, fellow band member Negron regularly fought addiction and, in December 1985, he was fired from the band after another relapse. Cory and Danny Hutton continued on as Three Dog Night and have toured up until Wells untimely death.
Wells is survived by his wife of 50 years, Mary, and their two daughters, Coryann and Dawn Marie.