NEW YORK (AFP) - Cory Wells, a singer in Three Dog Night whose radio-friendly cover songs yielded a stream of hits in the 1970s, has died, the band said on Wednesday. He was 73.
Wells, one of three singers in the Los Angeles-bred band, died unexpectedly on Tuesday in Dunkirk in western New York state, the band said on its Facebook page.
He grew up nearby in the Buffalo area, and was still touring with the band until last month when he developed severe back pain, the band said, without giving a cause of death.
"Cory was an incredible singer - a great performer, he could sing anything," wrote fellow Three Dog Night singer Danny Hutton, 73.
Three Dog Night - named for an aboriginal Australian expression on the number of dogs needed to keep warm at night - enjoyed immense popularity in the 1970s through the band's use of vocal harmonies in rock songs that were often covers. The band's other singer is Chuck Negron, 73.
Wells may be best known for taking the lead in singing Three Dog Night's version of Randy Newman's Mama Told Me (Not To Come), which topped the United States pop singles chart in 1970.
Other hits in which he took the lead included Harry Nilsson's One (Is the Loneliest Number), Laura Nyro's Eli's Coming, and Daniel Moore's Shambala.
Of partial Polish ancestry, Wells was born Emil Lewandowski and had relatives who played in polka bands. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Three Dog Night initially broke up in 1976 but returned in the 1980s with a New Wave sound.
They have remained active, despite the members' advancing age, with concerts scheduled across the US from next month through March.