If you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and I were to mention a certain bullfrog named Jeremiah, whose love of the ladies and propensity for drinking wine would shame the Christmas carol whose name he’s associated with, you could probably tell me the name of the band who sang his song. BUT, could you name one of the band’s lead singers on whom I had a crush? No???? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s Chuck Negron. And though it has been nearly 50 years since Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” was a number one hit, I still have a major crush on the man.
In the summer of 2018 Linda and I were driving south on I-205 on the east side of Portland when a Three Dog Night billboard caught my eye. They were playing at one of the nearby casinos so I grabbed my phone (Linda was driving) and called for tickets. Sadly they were sold out (nooooooo!!!!). But being so excited that they were still touring I googled for more upcoming dates only to find out that Chuck (my Chuck) was no longer with the group. Soooooo, we googled just him. Come to find out he does summer gigs with a group called The Happy Together Tour. After deciding between driving to some nearby town or flying someplace exciting, we opted for—Vegas Baby! So, July 11 of 2019 Linda and I boarded a plane for Las Vegas. I’d never been there before. Not sure if I’ll go back. Kinda wild for Miss Dana.
However, the concert was the bomb! Even the Uber ride from the hotel to the concert venue was the bomb! The driver wasn’t familiar with Three Dog Night so Linda and I gave him a quick education in song during the 20 minute ride. He seemed entertained as we told him we’d NEVER BEEN TO SPAIN and that he was a LIAR when he finally said he did recognize some of the tunes. And that MAMA TOLD ME NOT TO COME cuz I prefer to be OUT IN THE COUNTRY rather than in Vegas. And even if we’re late THE SHOW MUST GO ON cuz ELI’S COMING! And being a sucker for AN OLD FASHIONED LOVE SONG I couldn’t wait to feast my eyes on the one and only Chuck Negron.
Linda and I, being cheap, bought tickets way up in the balcony instead of on the floor close to the stage (a mistake I did not make on a recent ticket purchase to see Sara Bareilles–row four was awesome!) Anyway, looking around I could tell I was among my people. When I was a nanny we took the girls to see the Spice Girls. There, I was certainly not among my people. But The Happy Together Tour group was full of middle-aged, over the hill, retirees and senior saints. Everyone was friendly as well as feeling nostalgic for the bodies and hairlines they’d had decades before.
The Cowsills of “I Love the Flower Girl” and “Love American Style” fame opened the night and they were very fun. I remember not being allowed to watch the Love American Style TV show, but loved the theme song. They were followed by The Buckinghams and The Classics IV. I hadn’t heard of them before, but recognized some of their songs. They were fine, but I was getting anxious for my Chuckster.
Intermission couldn’t get over soon enough. Gary Puckett, lead singer from The Union Gap, began the second half. I always thought it was funny their most popular song “Young Girl Get Out of My Mind” was followed by “This Girl is a Woman Now.” Apparently she did not get out of his mind. Gary sang his last song, and I was on the edge of my seat. You could tell the crowd was getting anxious as well (or maybe it was just me). Shadoe Stevens’ deep DJ voice rang out with, “Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great JOY that we introduce, Chuck Negron.”
It took a few seconds for the 77 year old rocker to make his way center stage. I’m thinking back in 1970 he may have walked a little differently. But I gotta tell ya, he was still a mighty fine looking man. Back in the day he had long hair and a thick mustache. My senior year in high school I dated a guy with long hair…and a beard…also a singer…also a mighty fine looking man…hmmmmm…ANYWAY, Chuck wowed us with five of their hits. And then, when it was time for his last song, the crowd went crazy (again, maybe it was just me) as the intro for “Joy to the World” began. Sooooo great!!
That evening was such a fun walk down memory lane. I told Linda at the beginning of the evening I was going to be an old lady groupie and not leave without an autograph, picture and at least a kiss on the cheek. But I guess the aging Happy Together Tour cast need their rest. There was no table of merchandise to hawk or lines of swooning women waiting to be close to their teen idol. I was so disappointed. I had what I was going to say all prepared. Here’s how the conversation would have gone:
Chuck: Hello there. Thanks for coming to the show tonight.
Me: Hi Chuck. You’re welcome. I flew all the way from Portland to see you (and boy are my arms tired—no I wouldn’t have said that!).
Chuck: Wow, you must be a really big fan.
Me: Oh I am, I am!! Your songs are the soundtrack of my life. When I hear “One” I’m in the front yard of our house on Salazar street in San Diego climbing trees with my neighbors. When I hear “Joy to the World” I’m playing four-square at Oakhurst Elementary in Ft. Worth Texas. When I hear “Old Fashioned Love Song” I’m with my friend on my living room couch in La Grande, Oregon. When I hear “Eli’s Coming” I’m in Anacortes, Washington singing it out as my first solo my junior year. (Yes, we moved a lot!) Thank you for choosing such great songs to sing. You and Three Dog Night will always be one of my top favorites.
At that point Chuck would have invited me back to his hotel room, but not wanting to dis Linda I decline.
I just texted Linda the advertisement for next summer’s tour…
Do you have a favorite band or song from your past that brings up fond memories?
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