Joy to the World (Three Dog Night song)

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"Joy to the World"
1971 French release
Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Naturally
B-side "I Can Hear You Calling"
Released February 1971 (1971-02)[1]
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded 1970 at American Recording Co.
Genre Rock
Length 3:50
3:17 (remixed version)
Label Dunhill
Writer(s) Hoyt Axton
Producer(s) Richard Podolor[1]
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"One Man Band"
(November 1970)
"Joy to the World"
(February 1971)
(June 1971)

"Joy to the World" is a song written by Hoyt Axton, and made famous by the band Three Dog Night. The song is also popularly known by its opening words, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog". Three Dog Night originally released the song on their fourth studio album, Naturally in November 1970 and subsequently released an edited version of the song as a single in February 1971.[1]

The song, which has been described by members of Three Dog Night as a "kid's song" and a "silly song",[2] topped the main singles charts in North America, was certified gold by the RIAA, and has since been covered by multiple artists.

The song is featured prominently in the film The Big Chill. It is sung by a child character at the beginning and the Three Dog Night recording is played over the end credits.

It is also played at the end of every Denver Broncos victory at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and, before it, Mile High Stadium. Notable playings of this song after Broncos victories included then-Chicago Bears head coach Abe Gibron's singing along with the song in 1973, as immortalized by the Football Follies; and at the end of Super Bowl XXXII, played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Background and recording[edit]

Some of the words are nonsensical. Axton wanted to persuade his record producers to record a new melody he had written and the producers asked him to sing any words to the tune. A member of Three Dog Night said that the original lyrics to the song were "Jeremiah was a prophet" but "no one liked that".[3]

When Hoyt Axton performed the song to the group, two of the three main vocalists – Danny Hutton and Cory Wells – rejected the song, but Chuck Negron felt that the band needed a "silly song" to help bring the band back together as a working unit. Negron also felt that the song "wasn't even close to our best record, but it might have been one of our most honest."[2]

The song was recorded by Three Dog Night at American Recording Company, produced by Richard Podolor, and engineered by Bill Cooper.[1] Unlike most Three Dog Night songs recorded at that point, instead of having just the three main vocalists singing harmony, the song was recorded with all seven members of the band singing.[2]

When the song hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971, Axton and his mother, Mae Axton, became the first mother and son to each have written a number one pop single in the rock era. Mae Axton co-wrote "Heartbreak Hotel", which was the first number one hit for Elvis Presley.

In a 1994 case, David P. Jackson filed suit[4] claiming co-authorship of the song and alleging that Axton fraudulently claimed sole authorship. In the suit Jackson claimed that Axton regularly credited him with co-authorship.

Charts and awards[edit]

Chart (1971) Peak
Canadian Top Singles[5] 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[6] 17
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[7] 25
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[8] 24
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 1
Year-End Chart (1971) Peak
Canadian Top Singles[10] 1

The single had been out less than two months, when on April 9, 1971, "Joy to the World" was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of over 1,000,000 units across the United States.[11] The record was also given a Gold Leaf award by RPM magazine for sales of over a million units.[12] The record won the award for the Best Selling Hit Single Record by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in March 1972.[13] It was also ranked by Billboard magazine as the year-end #1 pop single of 1971.[14]

The single went on to sell 5 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.[15]


Preceded by
"Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" by The Temptations
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
April 17, 1971 (six weeks)
Succeeded by
"Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones


  1. ^ a b c d Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965–1975 (CD liner). Three Dog Night. United States: MCA Records. 1993. pp. 27, 30, 31. MCAD2-10956. 
  2. ^ a b c Leaf, David (1993). Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965–1975 (CD liner). Three Dog Night. United States: MCA Records. p. 20. MCAD2-10956. 
  3. ^ "Three Dog Night Headlines the Fair Tonight". Bainbridge Island Review. Entertainment section. August 20, 2008. ISSN 1053-2889. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Jackson v. Axton". 
  5. ^ "100 Singles" (PHP). RPM 15 (15). May 29, 1971. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  6. ^ " – Three Dog Night Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  7. ^ " – Three Dog Night – Joy To The World" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  8. ^ "Archive Chart: 1971-06-26" UK Singles Chart.
  9. ^ "Three Dog Night – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Three Dog Night.
  10. ^ "100 Top Singles of '71" (PHP). RPM 16 (20): 5. January 8, 1972. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  11. ^ "American single certifications – Three Dog Night – Joy to the World". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 8, 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  12. ^ "Highlights of ABC/Dunhill Convention". Billboard 83 (34): 50. August 21, 1971. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
  13. ^ Sippel, John, ed. (March 18, 1972). "NARM Award Winners". Billboard 84 (12): 12. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Year End Charts - Year-end Singles - The Billboard Hot 100". Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  15. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2, illustrated ed.). Barrie & Jenkins. ISBN 0-214-20480-4. 
  16. ^ Dreier, Peter (28 September 2015). "Good luck, Trevor Noah: Stephen Colbert just raised the bar very, very high". Retrieved 29 September 2015. 

External links[edit]