Cory Wells, one of the founding members of the iconic group Three Dog Night, died Tuesday at the age 74. Wells, one of three lead singers of iconic band, died unexpectedly yesterday in Dunkirk, NY. Wells had been with the group from its inception, continued performing with the band up until September of this year when he developed a problem with severe back pain.

Three Dog Night formed in the late 1960s and racked up 21 consecutive Top 40 hits, including "Joy to the World" and "One." The group rotated lead vocalists, with Wells recording the vocals for "Shambala" and  "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)", which would become the first of the group's three number one hits.

Born Emil Lewandowski in Buffalo, NY,  Wells joined the Air Force after high school, forming his first band while in the service and going on to play with other groups in his hometown after leaving the military. The foundation for Three Dog Night was laid when Wells met Hutton after both were invited to tour with Sonny and Cher. The group, who took its name from a story about Australian aborigines in the cold outback seeking warmth, was formed after that tour.

Various iterations of the group have stayed on the road performing for 40 years. News of Wells' death prompted tributes from the world of music and far beyond. Wells, who died in his sleep, is survived by his wife Mary and two daughters Coryann and Dawn Marie.