By Bruce Weber NEW YORK TIMES OCTOBER 23, 2015 DOG NIGHT VIA AP/FILE 2008 Mr. Wells was one of the three original singers in Three Dog Night, which started in the late 1960s and is still touring. NEW YORK — Cory Wells, one of the three lead singers in Three Dog Night, a signature pop band of the late 1960s and ’70s, died Tuesday in Dunkirk, N.Y., on Lake Erie. He was 74. The death was announced on the band’s website, threedognight.com. No cause was given. Three Dog Night, a band that thrived on tight, high-spirited arrangements of well-selected songs by leading writers, was distinguished by its trio of singers with a gift for melody, harmony, and showbiz delivery: Mr. Wells, Danny Hutton, and Chuck Negron. They took turns fronting the band on myriad Top 40 hits, including Harry Nilsson’s “One (Is the Loneliest Number),” Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Coming,” Paul Williams’s “An Old-Fashioned Love Song” and, with its famously preposterous opening lines “Jeremiah was a bullfrog/Was a good friend of mine,” Hoyt Axton’s “Joy to the World.” Mr. Wells sang lead on “Eli’s Coming,” but he may be best remembered for “Mama Told Me (Not to Come),” a comic story-song by Randy Newman whose lyrics, narrated by an innocent at a wild party — “The radio is blastin’, someone’s knockin’ on the door/I’m lookin’ at my girlfriend, she’s passed out on the floor/I seen so many things I ain’t never seen before” — were delivered by Mr. Wells with just the right wink of mischief. He was born Emil Lewandowski on Feb. 2, 1941, and raised by a single mother. (Reportedly, the name Wells was a variation of his birth father’s name, and Cory the name of a band manager’s son.) He joined the Air Force after finishing high school, and when he mustered out he began singing in bands, eventually moving to Southern California with a group called the Vibratos. They evolved into the Enemys, became the house band at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip, and toured with Sonny and Cher. By the late 1960s, Mr. Wells had joined with Hutton, Negron, and four others: guitarist Michael Allsup, organist Jimmy Greenspoon (who died this year), bassist Joe Schermie, and drummer Floyd Sneed. The band’s name, which apparently did not refer to the three singers except by implication, comes from a habit attributed to indigenous Australians of sleeping with dogs for warmth; a three-dog night is an especially frigid one. By 1969, the band was playing the Fillmore East in New York and was reviewed ecstatically by Ed Ochs of Billboard magazine: “Cory Wells, who croaks the raw soul so familiar to today’s top white blues bands, led the group’s complete commercial synthesis of rock and pop,” he wrote, adding, “Despite the slight distortions of ego and excess, Three Dog Night’s tight, dramatic explosions of song should keep the group blazing an exciting new middle-road long after hard rockers have blown themselves out.” Three Dog Night broke up in the mid-1970s, reunited in the ’80s, and with some of its original members, including Mr. Wells until shortly before his death, has continued to tour. ‘‘Cory was an incredible singer — a greater performer, he could sing anything,’’ Hutton told the Associated Press on Wednesday. Mr. Wells leaves his wife, Mary; two daughters, Coryann and Dawn Marie Cussins; and five grandchildren. he wrote, a child is black, a child is white.