They wanted a memorable 50th class reunion. So, they got this Three Dog Night singer

Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, plays Sept. 15, 2018 at the Tower Theatre in Fresno, CA.
Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, plays Sept. 15, 2018 at the Tower Theatre in Fresno, CA. Submitted

Dianne McKneel’s last class reunion was a sit-down dinner at a banquet hall.

There was catered food and a slide show; some memories were had.

It was fine, but nothing extraordinary.

“People walked away ho-hum,” says McKneely, who graduated from Hoover High School in 1968 and has served on a committee to organize a class reunion every 10 years since. She agreed to help organize the 50th reunion, knowing it might be the last, but only if they did something really memorable.

They booked Chuck Negron at the Tower Theatre.

The former Three Dog Night singer plays 8 p.m. Saturday and the class of ’68 will get the red-carpet treatment prior to the show including heavy hors d’oeuvres and a post concert reception (both are at The Painted Table).

To be clear, this isn’t a private event. While organizers set aside a number of VIP tickets for the reunion (read, the good seats), the show is open to the public. Tickets start at $39.50 and organizers are hoping to fill the place.

The event did cost money to put together, though any profits made on the show will go to Hoover High School, says Mike Cavale, who also sits on the reunion committee and happens to have booked a concert or two before. Cavale co-owns Rainmaker Productions in Visalia and has booked everyone from Tony Bennett and Audra McDonald to Morrissey, Ian Anderson and the Airborne Toxic Event.

The committee settled on Negron after listening to an iTunes playlist of songs from their high school days, Cavale says.

“We just started playing some music,” he says.

“We started playing all the hits.”

Archive shot of Chuck Negron singing with the band Three Dog Night. Submitted

And Three Dog Night had plenty of them, though it’s worth noting the band didn’t form until 1967 and didn’t release its first record until 1969. Its best-known hits (“Mama Told Me Not to Come” and “Joy to the World”) were released in the early ’70s.

Still, those songs have become symbolic of the times (if you listen to the soundtrack of any movie about the 1960s, anyway).

As has Negron’s life and struggles with addiction, which he wrote about in his autobiography “Three Dog Nightmare” and talked about as the keynote speaker at the Tulare County Adult Drug Court graduation ceremony in 2007. The singer has been clean and sober since 1991.

“He has had an amazing comeback,” McKneely says.

So far, the response to the reunion/concert idea has been positive. McKneely hopes to have more than 100 of the 400 or so graduates of 1968 in attendance.

And other schools have taken note. The committee got a call from some Fresno High School graduates who are keen to the idea for their own reunion, Cavale says.

“This might really start something,” he says.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Chuck Negron

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