Harry Nilsson

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About Harry Nilsson

The influence of pop singer Harry Nilsson far outpaced his commercial success, which peaked in the late ‘60s and early ’70s with a pair of gold records and a handful of Top 40 singles. • Born in Brooklyn, Nilsson began writing songs after relocating to Los Angeles, where he worked as a computer operator at a bank. Artists including Little Richard and The Monkees recorded some of his early efforts before Nilsson released his debut, a mix of covers and originals called Spotlight on Nilsson, in 1966. • In 1968, Nilsson released what would become one of his best-known songs: “One.” It didn’t chart, though soft-rockers Three Dog Night took their version to No. 5 in 1969. • Nilsson’s 1969 album Harry was his first to crack the US album chart, reaching No. 120. The same year, he landed his first Top 10 hit with his version of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” which peaked at No. 6. The tune had stalled out at No. 113 when Nilsson first released it the previous year. • His greatest success came on the four LPs Nilsson released between 1970 and 1973, including the No. 3 album Nilsson Schmilsson, released in 1970, and the Top 20 album Son of Schmilsson, which arrived in 1972. Both went gold. • Nilsson notched his only No. 1 single in 1971 with his version of Badfinger’s “Without You.” Mariah Carey had a hit with the song 23 years later. • Once lauded by The Beatles as their favorite American artist, Nilsson recorded the John Lennon-produced Pussy Cats in 1974. The album also included contributions from Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, and saxophonist Bobby Keys. Peaking at No. 60, it was Nilsson’s last LP to reach the upper half of the US album chart. • Nilsson released another five albums through 1980 and also wrote the soundtrack for Robert Altman’s 1980 film Popeye, starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall. • Though Nilsson only released the occasional single throughout the ’80s, he contributed three songs to the 1984 Yoko Ono tribute Every Man Has a Woman. • Nilsson was working on a new album when he died of heart disease in January 1994 at age 52. The album, Losst and Founnd, eventually came out in 2019.

Brooklyn, NY, United States
June 15, 1941
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