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From this point on you will see more "memorabilia."

   Below are some publicity shots from 1970. For some reason, Jimmy always seemed to get caught on the edge of photos that were shot with a wide angle lens, such as a 24 mm. It tends to stretch those standing on the outside. I always kid him about having a twisted head. In his glory, he doesn't seem to mind or even dispute that claim. A personal goal of his, maybe.


   Our second album of 1970 was titled, "Naturally" It was released in November and the cover shot was done on the North shore of Oahu, HI. naturallyb5sm.gif You can click on this link to view the contents of the album, if you so desire.

   This album contained one of the best vocal performances (IMHO) by all three singers, in our entire career. A personal favorite of mine called, "I've Got Enough Heartaches." You see, when in the studio and having performed alongside everybody for a couple of years, one tends not to overpraise one another. At least, that's what I've been told. Still, after the musicians cut the track and did a few sweetener overdubs, it came time for the vocals. When I heard what was coming out of the speakers, my jaw dropped. I had to tell them right then! The most amazing "white gospel" vocal sound I'd ever heard in my life. Now, these WERE NOT white gospel singers per se. nyuk. Not by definition, at least. For those of you who may still have this album or CD, listen to it one more time. The texture of the background vocals and the individual lead verses. Everything is a mind blower. I'm very, very proud of that record and all our efforts. Richie, Coop, the musicians, but particularly the singers. Great performances. Although it was never released as a single, I loved the way we did this song. A hidden album cut that is still special to me.

   We were able to pull 3 singles from this album, "One Man Band," "Liar," AND "Joy to the World" (Jeremiah was a bullfrog), which was the biggest selling single of our career, selling over 4 million copies. Having 3 singles from an album was almost unheard of. We are very proud to have had our efforts validated by so many.

   As rock n roll memory varies from person to person, others may find that my recollection of how "Joy to the World" came to be a Three Dog Night song is different than they remember. Nonetheless, this is how I remember it. Joe Schermie and I heard that Hoyt Axton was doing a demo session at a studio in Hollywood (Wally Heider's) and decided to go hang out with him. Hoyt had written a children's story called "The Happy Song," which was a musical that he was trying to sell to one of the major television networks. He had songs for the story, "Joy" being one of them. When Hoyt did the demo, it was basically just an acoustic guitar with Hoyt singing in his low baritone-ish voice. A very sparse demo. Schermie and I heard it, looked at each other and said "That could be a smash." Of course, we really had no idea just HOW big it would be. After the session, we took a copy of the demo with us over to American Recording Studio where we had planned a "listening session," evaluating stacks of demo material that we were considering doing for our album. Hoyt may have even asked us to take it over. I don't recall. I just remember how "hyped" Joe and I were about the record.

   At the time we were doing great with a history of hit singles, the 1970's started with a bit of a hangover from the 60's, in this respect: it wasn't considered very cool to wear nice clothes on stage. Raggedy was still in, to some degree. That wasn't our group. We all liked wearing good clothes. Due to the fact that we were having "commercial" success, we started to become a little concerned about trying to do a little "raunchier" type of music. We were thinking that we might have too much of a "clean cut" image. When we brought in this little song about a frog that had lyrics like, "all the fishes in the deep blue sea," there was an obvious immediate reaction from Danny, Chuck, and Cory, like "do we really want to do this song?" Not really bad logic, when you think about it. They all passed on it; Joe and I were disappointed. The listening session ended. As usual, Joe and I were hanging out way after everybody had left. We usually did that. For me it was the "tech talk" that I loved, the engineering and production talks with Richie and Bill. Anyway, one by one, the singers individually began to drift back in, poking their head into the control room saying, "Uh ... what about that frog song? Maybe I'll take it home and give it another listen." Needless to say, Joe and I loved that. In the studio, while working up an arrangement, we actually wrote the little modulation to the key of "E" towards the end of the song where it just sings "Joy to the world, all the boys and girls, joy to the world, joy to you and me," with the entire band, myself included, singing on it all the way to the end. It's an amazing song. In my opinion it has gotten into the American public more than any other song we ever did. Even 2nd and 3rd generation little kids know it, having heard their parents play the record as they were growing up. I wish I could fully express the feeling it gives me, gives all of us in the group. Absolutely wonderful. To know that every audience we ever play for, knows the words. That's true for most of our hit songs, but "Joy" stands out more than any other. As I mentioned in my piece on Hoyt Axton in the Tribute section of this web site, Hoyt pulled me close to him as I was about to leave his home in Montana, that last time I saw him before he passed away. He whispered in a rather weak, but low husky voice, "Michael tell all the guys in the group "thanks" for giving me a career." I fought off a tear, hugged him and said "Hoyt, you silly shit. Don't you know you gave us one, too?" Then we both smiled a tear as we said what we both knew was our last goodbye.

   Sometimes, when I watch NFL films from the 70s, I see this one clip of a coach on the sideline and in-between plays, he's singing "Jeremiah was a bullfrog." Call me cheesy, but I love that. I get a great feeling every time I see and hear it. Makes me proud that so many people have that little song in their hearts. I'm proud of us. I'm proud of Hoyt.

Below: A photo shoot in Echo Park, California.


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