Three Dog Night turned down the M*A*S*H theme song because it was ''too negative''

One of the most successful rock bands of the era rejected this surefire 'S*M*A*S*H' hit.

Born in the Sixties Los Angeles scene, Three Dog Night became one of the biggest rock bands of the early Seventies. The vocal trio of Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells made their debut under the name in 1968 at the Whiskey a Go Go. Hutton had formerly been a singer signed to Hanna-Barbera Records — he had performed on a Halloween record called Monster Shindig for the label, which featured the Gruesomes characters from The Flintstones

Three Dog Night exploded onto the pop scene at large in 1969 with their single "One," a cover of a Harry Nilsson tune. That gold record reached No. 5 on the Billboard charts. From that smash song through "Sure As I'm Sittin' Here" in 1974, Three Dog Night released 18 singles. All of them broke into the Top 20.

Their cover tunes "Mama Told Me Not to Come" (Randy Newman / Eric Burdon), "Joy to the World" (Hoyt Axton) and "Black and White" (Pete Seeger) reached No. 1. In fact, none of those 18 consecutive Top 20 hits were written by the band.

That's the thing about Three Dog Night that people overlook — not only was the group massive, it became so by recording other people's material.

The band might have been even bigger had it not turned down some classics.

In a 2011 interview at the Robert H. Jackson Center, Cory Wells reminisced about some of the songs that Three Dog Night rejected. The first one that came to his mind was TV tune heard several times a week on MeTV.

"We went down and saw a TV show that was just starting," Wells recalled, "And they offered us the song to do the theme for the show and the other two guys [Hutton and Negron] said, 'Nah! It's too negative! It's Vietnam and all that kind of stuff' — and it was for M*A*S*H!"

At which point Wells and the crowd erupted into laughter.

The song, of course, is "Suicide Is Painless."  You might be thinking, "But that was an instrument." Well, yes, eventually — perhaps because Three Dog Night said no to recording it! — but it began as a vocal number sung in the 1970 MASH film. The lyrics were written by a 14-year-old, Mike Altman, son of MASH director Robert Altman.

Imagine the serious sitcom with a sung version of the tune, by Three Dog Night, at the start of every episode!

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Gary 25 months ago
I'm glad they didn't do it but I bet it would have been a great version!
TonyClifton 25 months ago
I take issue with this line... "The band might have been even bigger had it not turned down some classics."

What? The band is HUGE! It's not like they were Milli Vanilli. The 3 Dog Night Greatest Hits albums is chock FULL of hits! Somebody (the writer) didn't do their research. Naughty naughty.
musicman37 TonyClifton 10 months ago
MeTV's research is far from up to snuff - and they prove it with practically EVERY article they print up here.
bubbasmith 25 months ago
I highly doubt the lyrics would have ever been sung on network TV. In the movie is fine, especially with the context of the film, but a weekly series? Even if Three Dog Night had done a version, I imagine the instrumental would have ultimately been used.
Hogansucks1 45 months ago
What is A TREE’s worst nightmare dream ? —— A three dog night !! 😗
Cheyloo 46 months ago
I love the song, "Mama told me not to come", especially in the movie "Domino" about bounty hunter Domino Harvey.
46 months ago
I am probably the only person that hates M*A*S*H: the depressing theme song, the actors, the whole schmaggege.
Jorgal74 Pilaf 46 months ago
You're not the only one, I can assure you.
simply1derful1 46 months ago
I like how the band coined it's named after a cold night in Alaska
bubbasmith simply1derful1 25 months ago
Nope. That's not how the name came to be.
ToddLeBaron bubbasmith 25 months ago
Th4e name came from the term used to describe a really cold night...but in Australia, not Alaska.
JohnGibbons 46 months ago
Best band not in the rock n roll Hall of Fame.
OldTVfanatic 47 months ago
I feel it’s a good thing Three Dog Night turned down recording “Suicide is Painless:” the lyrics, while a tad inane, are extremely bleak, which is why CBS wouldn’t allow anyone to sing the lyrics on the show. And now that Fox is owned by Disney, I doubt the House of Mouse will re-release the song anytime soon.
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Jeffrey OldTVfanatic 46 months ago
how can you make a shambles out of shambles
OldTVfanatic Jeffrey 46 months ago
No, Disney owns Fox.
Jeffrey Jeffrey 46 months ago
and so rupert murdock jumped the ship
harlow1313 47 months ago
While I like some of their hits, they were a pre-fabricated group, much like The Monkees. With so many outside song writers in such projects, these groups don't have much identity.
OldTVfanatic harlow1313 47 months ago
To be fair, Three Dog Night broke through just before the arrival of the nascent “singer-songwriter” movement, which spelled the dawn of the 1970s.
Jeffrey harlow1313 46 months ago
well at least they didnt use the wrecking crew - LOOK IT UP
JohnGibbons harlow1313 46 months ago
When I hear a song, I don’t think about who wrote it, just what it sounds like.
wfriel Jeffrey 25 months ago
actually Brian Wilson wrote a song for the group while they were still known as Redwood. He had the wrecking crew record the music. Mike Love then complained that song should be recorded by the Beach Boys. Wilson then had his brother Carl record the lyrics for Darlin instead of Redwood. If not for Mike Love, Three Dog Night would have recorded with the Wrecking Crew.
ToddLeBaron harlow1313 25 months ago
Three Dog Night wasn't put together the way the Monkees were. You're mistaking them for the Grass Roots. The band that played on the first Grass roots album featured none of the singers or musicians that ca,e to be known as The Grass Roots on subsequent albums. Originally that band was put together by a couple of songwriter-producers. Three Dog Night wasn't brought together that way at all.
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