Dallas – Rock hounds in Big D, being hungry by nature, will essentially take what they can get. Anything. On this squalidly humid late-July evening at the Cotton Bowl, 30,000 of them are getting Three Dog Night, and there’s joy to the world as the group’s golden bisquits keep popping out of the oven right on cue, bam-bam-bam, just like the fireworks display that preceded the meticulously-paced and groomed Dog show: “One” (bam), “Eli’s Coming” (bam), “Mama Told Me” (bam), “Easy to Be Hard” (bam), “Liar” (bam), “Celebrate” (bam), and, but of course, that fun and eminently hummable Hoyt Axton number about Jeremiah, the wine – bibbing bullfrog (three bams by any measure).
From the vast stadium’s hotly-lit 50-yard line, it’s plain to see that all seven of the Dogs take relish in their work. Singer Chuck Negron draws oceanic applause merely by his presence on stage; the day before, he’d broken his nose and wrist in a traffic smashup, but tonight he belts out his golden share of bisquits in a clear, ringing voice, and his foot never stops tapping. Singer Danny Hutton imps about among the massive amps that tower above the bandstand, yowling gleefully and pouring beer on whosever head is closest at hand. The third singer, Cory Wells, executes a wicked bump-and-grind, triggering mass orgasms among the moon-faced teenyboppers who keep crossing and re-crossing their legs in the front rows. Guitarist Mike Allsup and bassist Joe Schermie (the latter being the only Dog with a bleeding ulcer) trade heated acoustic fours, and as a coda, blow dainty kisses at the shrieking girls. Jim Greenspoon further schlocks it to the many mini-ladies on, ahem, organ, and drummer Floyd Sneed (the only black Dog) hurtles into his frantic tom-tom routine, letting his sticks arc and flash off into the audience and continuing to flail savagely at his traps with hands taped like a boxer’s.
At the end of Floyd’s solo, a Jesus freak in the eighth row springs to his feet, clapping and swaying deliriously. “Joy to the world, brothers and sisters,” he bleats, “outasite, amen.” He moves to embrace the young straight-looking couple with the baby sitting next to him. Startled, the young mother shrinks away; her husband bristles: “You bettah watch yo’self, buddeh.” “Outasite, amen,” the freak babbles, turning to an O-eyed dippybop in cowboy drag who would look more in harness at a rodeo stomp. “Ah tell yew,” she says, suffering the freak’s embrace with easy grace, “those suckahs down theah can rilly play.” “Amen, joy to the world, outasite, sister.”
A freelance writer from L.A., one of the 50-odd members of the underground, over-ground, and sea-level press jetted in from all points of the compass for the Cotton Bowl concert and the festivities to come, wanders forlornly through the audience, searching for a place to buy a drink. He would look precisely like a 19th century Russian anarchist, this eccentric fellow, if it weren’t for the depraved-looking baseball cap he persists in wearing backwards. “Nurse, nurse?” he entreats an usherette in a soft moan. She listens politely to his predicament (“I’m losing my high”) and tells him she doesn’t know of any bar closer than the one downtown at the Fairmont Hotel, where the press cadre and the sleeping Dogs will lie down to rest this night in suites posh enough to afford a wall phone by each John. Appalled by the news, the writer shakes a clenched fist at the bandstand, where the Dogs are wrapping up their 90-minute clean-machine set to hurricane applause. “Mama told me not to come!” he howls at them in fustian outrage.
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The next day, a day of Fellini-esque vapors, the visibly hanging – over press and the Dogs (minus Chuck Negron, who’s feeling poorly) come together for what has been billed in advance as a “feast” – dinner and joy on the grounds at Cielo, broadcast magnate Gordon Maclendon’s french-fried version of Xanadu. Located 30 minutes north of down-town Dallas at the end of, Lord save us, Nowhere Road, the 525-acre spread comprises a ranch house the approximate size of an aircraft hangar, a pool and pool house not much smaller, a barn converted to a movie theater, stables, tennis courts, a putting green, and – why not? – a series of fake-front western movie sets where TV commercials are filmed. All the comforts, that’s Cielo – and if you’re in a hurry, there’s a taxi landing strip.
Maclendon himself isn’t on hand to greet the visitors – in fact, it’s been confided by more than one nervous flack that the anti-drug-lyric-crusading “Old Scotchman” isn’t any too anxious to have his name associated with the dopey goings-on of this afternoon – but his major domo, a bluff, mustachioed wrangler named Vick Vickers, busily pumps hands as the buses arrive and points the way to the pool-side bar, “Trader Vick’s.” “Nurse, nurse,” the L.A. freelancer croaks, hurrving off in that direction. “No, ma’am,” Vick drawls to the lady from Women’s Wear Daily, “they ain’t no snakes on the ‘mediate premises as I know of.” He glances off toward the pool. “Carol.” he yells at a maid, “”git that damn dawg outta the water.”