NEW YORK —A founding member of the popular 1970s band Three Dog Night has died in New York state. Cory Wells was 74.

Bandmate Danny Hutton says Wells experienced acute back pain weeks ago and died suddenly Tuesday in Dunkirk, where he had lived. Universal Music Enterprises spokeswoman Sujata Murphy said Wednesday the cause of Wells’ death was unknown.

Wells, Hutton and Chuck Negron formed Three Dog Night in 1967. Their hits included “Joy to the World.” They were dubbed the “kings of over-sing” by Village Voice critic Robert Christgau. They had a run of fervent hits, including “One,” “Eli’s Coming” and “Joy to the World.”

Band members took turns on lead vocals, with Wells’ singing featured on “Shambala,” “Never Been to Spain” and “Mama Told Me (Not to Come).”