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Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: Three Dog Night starring Will Ferrell

March 16, 2011

born to play Danny Hutton

You can say you saw it here first. Some film projects are simply inevitable and the very idea of Will Ferrell starring as Danny Hutton in the story of Three Dog Night is Hollywood catnip. Now that the notion is out there, it’s just a matter of time before it becomes a reality.

Beyond Ferrell’s uncanny resemblance to Hutton, the part is as meaty as a big fat rail of cocaine. With the right direction – PT Anderson comes to mind – Ferrell is a shoe-in for an Oscar nom. Before he became one third of Three Dog Night, Hutton began his career recording for Hanna Barbara’s music label. His hit “Roses and Rainbows” (#87) was immortalized with his animated appearance on The Flintstones (the clip is incredible). Hutton was all over the LA music scene. He was friends with Van Dyke Parks (great essay and interview here) and Brian Wilson. In fact, Wilson was producing sessions with Redwood, an earlier incarnation of Three Dog Night, in 1967. But the other Wilson brothers got jealous and put the kabbash on the project. The legendary Kim Fowley lived in Hutton’s attic. The dude was simply dialed in.

Three Dog Night would become one the most successful acts of the 1970s, spinning hit after hit of AM gold. And as any viewer of “Behind the Music” knows, that fame came with a price. As the band rose through the charts, their three titanic egos repeatedly clashed, fueled by mountains and mountains of cocaine. Hutton’s Hollywood home on Wonderland Avenue had become a mecca for drug use. The great Harry Nilsson and John Lennon routinely found solace there. Around this time, Hutton admittedly spiked Elton John’s food with cocaine to keep him performing all night long. “Play monkey play!” the guests must have demanded. Hutton was kicked out of the band in 1976, although by his own account he checked out much earlier than that.

Here’s a clip from 1975. Hutton / Will Ferrell is the third dog on the right and is simply lit.

In other obvious casting moves, Chuck Negron (left) is James Franco and Matthew McConaughey (center) is all over Cory Wells.

As an odd footnote to his career, Hutton would go on to manage the hardcore LA band Fear, who as far as I can tell are/were a much of obnoxious gay-hating, nazi-aggrandizing assholes. The Danny Hutton Hitters would have two tunes on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, at which point the members of Fear probably tracked him down and beat him up.

I, however, prefer to remember Danny for his first hit from 1965. Check it out on YouTube. It comes complete with an epic cavalcade of go-go dancers.

For “Old Fashioned Love Song” – which Hutton just absolutely shreds from about 2:10 on (and Will Ferrell lives to emulate someday soon), click (if you dare) …..

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