Tag: Harry Nilsson

Wednesday 6/15/22 10am ET: Feature Artist: Harry Nilsson

Harry Edward Nilsson III (June 15, 1941 – January 15, 1994), sometimes credited as Nilsson, was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. His work is characterized by pioneering vocal overdub experiments, returns to the Great American Songbook, and fusions of Caribbean sounds. A tenor with a 3+1⁄2 octave range, Nilsson was one of the few major pop-rock recording artists to achieve significant commercial success without ever performing major public concerts or undertaking regular tours.

Born in Brooklyn, Nilsson moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to escape his family’s poor financial situation. While working as a computer programmer at a bank, he grew interested in musical composition and close-harmony singing, and was successful in having some of his songs recorded by various artists such as the Monkees. In 1967, he debuted on RCA Victor with the LP Pandemonium Shadow Show, followed by a variety of releases that include a collaboration with Randy Newman (Nilsson Sings Newman, 1970) and the original children’s story The Point! (1971). He created the first remix album (Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, 1971) and recorded the first mashup song (“You Can’t Do That”, 1967). His most commercially successful album, Nilsson Schmilsson (1971), produced the international top 10 singles “Without You” and “Coconut”. His other top 10 hit, “Everybody’s Talkin'” (1968), was featured prominently in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. A version of Nilsson’s “One”, released by Three Dog Night in 1969, also reached the U.S. top 10.

During a 1968 press conference, the Beatles were asked what their favorite American group was and answered “Nilsson”. Sometimes called “the American Beatle”, he soon formed close friendships with John Lennon and Ringo Starr. In the 1970s, Nilsson, Lennon and Starr were members of the Hollywood Vampires drinking club, embroiling themselves in a number of widely publicized, alcohol-fueled incidents. They produced one collaborative album, Pussy Cats (1974). After 1977, Nilsson left RCA, and his record output diminished. In response to Lennon’s 1980 murder, he took a hiatus from the music industry to campaign for gun control. For the rest of his life, he recorded only sporadically. In 1994, Nilsson died of a heart attack while in the midst of recording what became his last album, Losst and Founnd (2019).

The craft of Nilsson’s songs and the defiant attitude he projected remain touchstones for later generations of indie rock musicians. Nilsson was voted No. 62 in Rolling Stone’s 2015 list of the “100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time”, where he was described as “a pioneer of the Los Angeles studio sound” and “a crucial bridge” between 1960s psychedelia and the 1970s singer-songwriter era. The RIAA certified Nilsson Schmilsson and Son of Schmilsson (1972) as gold records, indicating over 500,000 units sold each. He earned Grammy Awards for two of his recordings; Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male in 1970 for “Everybody’s Talkin'” and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1973 for “Without You”.

Born with congenital heart problems, Nilsson suffered a heart attack on February 14, 1993. After surviving that, he began pressing his former label, RCA Records, to release a boxed-set retrospective of his career, and resumed recording, attempting to complete one final album. He finished the vocal tracks for the album with producer Mark Hudson, who held onto the tapes of that session. Nilsson died of heart failure on January 15, 1994, in his Agoura Hills, California, home at the age of 52. In 1995, the 2-disc CD anthology he worked on with RCA, Personal Best, was released. The final album was eventually released on November 22, 2019, as Losst and Founnd. Nilsson is interred in the Valley Oaks Memorial Park at Westlake Village, California.

Sunday 6/20/21 12am ET: Feature LP: Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson (1971)

Nilsson Schmilsson is the seventh album by American singer Harry Nilsson, released by RCA Records in November 1971. It was Nilsson’s most commercially successful work, producing three of his best-known songs. Among these was the number 1 hit “Without You”, written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of the group Badfinger. The album was the first of two Nilsson albums recorded in London and produced by Richard Perry.

“Jump into the Fire” and “Coconut”, both written by Nilsson, also became hits. The album performed well at the 1973 Grammy Awards, earning a nomination for Album of the Year, while “Without You” won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. In 2006, Nilsson Schmilsson was ranked number 84 on Pitchfork’s “Top 100 Albums of the 1970s”. The album was ranked #281 in the 2020 revision of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

  1. “Gotta Get Up” 2:24
  2. “Driving Along” 2:02
  3. “Early in the Morning” 2:48
  4. “The Moonbeam Song” 3:18
  5. “Down” 3:24
  6. “Without You” 3:17
  7. “Coconut” 3:48
  8. “Let the Good Times Roll” 2:42
  9. “Jump into the Fire” 6:54
  10. “I’ll Never Leave You” 4:11
  11. “Si No Estás Tú” (Spanish version of “Without You”) 3:14
  12. “How Can I Be Sure of You” 3:04
  13. “The Moonbeam Song” (Demo version) 3:30
  14. “Lamaze” 1:44
  15. “Old Forgotten Soldier” (Demo version) 2:41
  16. “Gotta Get Up” (Demo version) 2:25

Harry Nilsson – vocals; piano on 1, 5, 8, 10; Mellotron on 2, 4; organ on 3; harmonica on 8; electric piano on 9
Jim Gordon – drums on 1, 2, 5, 7, 9; percussion on 7, 9
Klaus Voormann – bass on 1, 5, 6, 8; rhythm guitar on 2, 9; acoustic guitar on 4

Chris Spedding – guitar on 1, 5, 8, 9
Herbie Flowers – bass on 2, 4, 7, 9
John Uribe – acoustic guitar on 2, 4, 6; lead guitar on 2, 9
Henry Krein – accordion on 1
Richard Perry – percussion on 1, Mellotron on 2
Jim Price – trumpet on 1, 5; trombone on 1, 5; horn arrangements on 1, 5
Jim Keltner – drums on 5, 6, 8
Roger Coulam – organ on 5
Bobby Keys – saxophone on 5
Gary Wright – piano on 6, organ on 8
Paul Buckmaster – string and horn arrangements on 6
Roger Pope – drums on 7
Caleb Quaye – guitar on 7
Ian Duck – acoustic guitar on 7
Jim Webb – piano on 9
George Tipton – string and horn arrangements on 10

Monday 5/3/21 2pm ET: Sounds of The 70’s

This week we feature music from Johnny Rivers, Harry Nilsson, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, Supertramp, Argent, Daddy Dewdrop, Undisputed Truth, Earth, Wind & Fire, Ronnie Dyson and more . . .