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Cory Wells (1941 - 2015)

Getty Images / Scott Legato

Cory Wells (1941 - 2015)

Cory Wells of Three Dog Night -- one of the biggest rock bands of the early '70s -- died Tuesday, Oct. 20, his bandmates confirmed in a news release, according to Billboard. He was 74 years old.

"It is with deep sadness and disbelief that I must report the passing of Cory Wells, my beloved band mate for over 45 years," said Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night. "Cory was an incredible singer -- a great performer, he could sing anything. Cory was like a brother in so many ways. We had been together since 1965 and I am in shock at this sudden loss."

One of the founding members of Three Dog Night, Wells was one of the band's three lead singers. They topped the Billboard Hot 100 three times with classic songs such as "Joy to the World" (which has appeared in numerous films and TV shows), "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" and "Black and White." The band earned 21 top-40 hits on the Hot 100 chart.

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Wells was born Emil Lewandowski Feb. 2, 1941, in Buffalo, New York. He joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school. After his service ended, he returned to Buffalo and played in several bands before moving to California.

Wells stopped performing in September after developing severe back pain. Wells is survived by Mary, his wife of 50 years, his daughters Coryann and Dawn Marie, and five grandchildren.

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Here is Three Dog Night in 1970 with Cory on lead vocals for the song "Mama told me not to come."