Category: harry nilsson

On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – “Son Of Schmilsson”, the eighth album by Harry Nilsson is released. Produced by Richard Perry, it is the recorded at Trident Studios and Apple Studios in London from March – April 1972. Coming off of the hugely successful “Nilsson Schmilsson” album, Harry Nilsson finds himself under pressure from his record label RCA and producer Richard Perry to repeat that success with the follow up. True to form, Nilsson chooses to go in the opposite direction creatively, following his muse and writing songs to suit his own eclectic tastes and sardonic sense of humor. At the time, he is in the process of divorcing his second wife Diane and writes the very catchy, funny and bluntly sarcastic “You’re Breaking My Heart”. The choruses end with the singer dropping the F-bomb throughout, to drive the point home. The albums next to last track “I’d Rather Be Dead” features a chorus of elderly men and women singing along, also reflects his state of mind at the time. The album features many of the same musicians who played on the previous album including Klaus Voorman (bass), Chris Spedding, John Uribe (guitars), and Bobby Keys (saxophone), as well as George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Peter Frampton, Lowell George, and Ray Cooper. The recording sessions are filmed for a documentary titled “Did Somebody Drop His Mouse?”, but is not released. Some of this footage is later featured in the Nilsson documentary “Who Is Harry Nilsson, And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?”. Though not as commercially successful as its predecessor, it is well received by the public. It spins off two singles including “Spaceman” (#23 Pop) and “Daybreak” (#39 Pop). The albums cover feature a black and white photo of Nilsson dressed as Count Dracula at the top of a staircase, with the image being staged at George Harrison’s home Friar Park in Henley On Thames, Oxfordshire, UK. Original vinyl LP copies were pressed with custom labels utilizing vintage Victor 78 RPM styled labels. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2013 as part of the box set “Nilsson – The RCA Albums Collection”, containing six additional bonus tracks. “Son Of Schmilsson” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: June 15, 1941 – Singer, songwriter and musician Harry Nilsson (born Harry Edward Nilsson III in Brooklyn, NY). Happy Birthday to this brilliant and visionary artist on what would have been his 78th Birthday.

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On this day in music history: March 12, 1974 – John Lennon and Harry Nilsson are kicked out of the Troubadour night club in West Hollywood, CA. One of the more infamous incidents to occur during Lennon’s “Lost Weekend” period, he and friend Nilsson are at the club attending the “comeback” performance of The Smothers Brothers. Both get very drunk on Brandy Alexanders and begin heckling the brothers during their performance. Lennon and Nilsson send flowers and apologies to the comedy duo the next day.

On this day in music history: November 12, 1971 – “Nilsson Schmilsson”, the seventh album by Nilsson is released. Produced by Richard Perry, it is recorded at Trident Studios in London in June 1971. After releasing six albums in five years, known his highly creative drive and often mercurial nature, Harry Nilsson shifts musical directions repeatedly. Having worked most previously with RCA staff producer Rick Jarrard, Nilsson parts ways with him to produce himself. After recording an album of covers by then still largely unknown songwriter Randy Newman, and the soundtrack to the wonderfully wry and surreal children’s animated film “The Point!”, Harry decides to work with another producer. Prior to working with artists as diverse as Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Ringo Starr, Leo Sayer and The Pointer Sisters, Richard Perry was known for producing Captain Beefheart and Tiny Tim. For Harry’s album, the pair travel to England in mid 1971 to record. Perry surrounds Nilsson with a group of top musicians which include Klaus Voorman, Herbie Flowers (bass), Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, Roger Pope (drums), Chris Spedding, John Uribe, Caleb Quaye (guitar), Gary Wright, Jimmy Webb (keyboards), and Bobby Keys (saxophone). Consisting mostly of original songs, he also covers “Let The Good Times Roll”, multi-tracking a chorus of his own voice and Louis Jordan’s “Early In The Morning”. The third, a cover of Badfinger’s “Without You” (#1 Pop) buoyed a sweeping arrangement and Nilsson’s soaring tenor voice, becomes a centerpiece of the album. It is contrasted by the gritty and hard rocking “Jump Into The Fire” (#29 Pop) and the light hearted and humorous “Coconut” (#8 Pop). The album’s now instantly recognizable cover photo is taken by Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean. Also a graphic artist and photographer, Torrence’s company Kittyhawk Graphics is hired to create the artwork for Nilsson’s album. Torrence goes to Harry’s home in L.A., and is greeted by the singer in his bathrobe in the middle of the afternoon. Deciding to forego a formal photo session, Dean photographs Harry standing in his kitchen in his robe, holding a hash pipe. Original copies of the LP come packaged with a 12" x 24" poster. “Schmilsson” quickly becomes the most successful album of Nilsson’s career. It is nominated for four Grammy Awards including Record and Album Of The Year. Nilsson wins his second Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Without You” in 1973. Reissued many times since first appearing on CD in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2013 as part of the “RCA Albums Collection”, featuring seven additional bonus tracks. It is most recently reissued on vinyl in 2017, on standard black vinyl, and a limited edition pressing on split yellow and white vinyl, with the latter including a reproduction of the poster. “Nilsson Schmilsson” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 20, 1967 – “Pandemonium Shadow Show”, the second album by Harry Nilsson is released. Produced by Rick Jarrard, it is recorded at RCA Victor’s Music Center in Hollywood, CA from February 17 – June 30, 1967. Making in roads in the music business as a songwriter while making early unsuccessful attempts at a recording career himself, Harry Nilsson is signed to a $50,000 multi-album contract with RCA Records in late 1966. A profoundly gifted songwriter, Nilsson is also blessed with a pitch perfect and pure tenor voice capable of reaching dazzling heights. “Pandemonium Shadow Show” features the musician being supported in the studio by members of the legendary Wrecking Crew studio collective including Mike Melvoin (keyboards), Mike Deasy (guitar), Lyle Ritz (bass) as well as then unknown musician from New Orleans named Mac Rebbennack (aka “Dr. John”) (guitar, keyboards). Nilsson’s early supporters and music publishers Perry Botkin, Jr. and George Tipton also write arrangements for the project. The album is a well balanced mixture of originals written by Harry along with some well chosen covers. Among those original songs is the autobiographical “1941”, with the singer telling the story of his own early life in which his father abandons the family (when Harry is only three years old), leaving his mother to fend for herself and young son. Other songs that are standouts include the clever and rousing opening track “Ten Little Indians”, and “Without Her” which is later covered by Blood, Sweat & Tears and by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. “Cuddly Toy” is also covered by The Monkees on “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.”. Also a huge fan of The Beatles, Harry also puts his own unique stamp on “You Can’t Do That” and “She’s Leaving Home”. In spite of a significant promotional push by RCA, “Pandemonium” fails to generate any hits in the US or chart, though it finds pockets of support, becoming a hit in Canada. And as fate would have it, it also catches the ear of a member of The Beatles inner circle. The band’s publicist Derek Taylor is in Los Angeles with his wife Joan, when he happens to hear “1941” on the radio. After finding out who the artist is, Taylor goes to a local record store and purchases whole case of Nilsson’s album to give to friends, including The Beatles themselves. John, Paul, George and Ringo are immediately impressed by Nilsson, and sing his praises in the press, helping to heighten his public profile. Falling out of print in the 70’s, the album makes its US CD debut in 1995. It is remastered and reissued in 2013 as part of the box set “Nilsson – The RCA Albums Collection”, featuring both the original mono and stereo mixes. The mono version of the album, out of print since being deleted in 1968, is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Sundazed Music in 2014.

On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – “Son Of Schmilsson”, the eighth album by Harry Nilsson is released. Produced by Richard Perry, it is the recorded at Trident Studios and Apple Studios in London from March – April 1972. Coming off of the hugely successful “Nilsson Schmilsson” album, Harry Nilsson finds himself under pressure from his record label RCA and producer Richard Perry to repeat that success with the follow up. True to form, Nilsson chooses to go in the opposite direction creatively, following his muse and writing songs to suit his own eclectic tastes and sardonic sense of humor. At the time, he is in the process of divorcing his second wife Diane and writes the very catchy, funny and bluntly sarcastic “You’re Breaking My Heart”. The choruses end with the singer dropping the F-bomb throughout, to drive the point home.

The albums next to last track “I’d Rather Be Dead” features a chorus of elderly men and women singing along, also reflects his state of mind at the time. The album features many of the same musicians who played on the previous album including Klaus Voorman (bass), Chris Spedding, John Uribe (guitars), and Bobby Keys (saxophone), as well as George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Peter Frampton, Lowell George, and Ray Cooper. The recording sessions are filmed for a documentary titled “Did Somebody Drop His Mouse?”, but is not released. Some of this footage is later featured in the Nilsson documentary “Who Is Harry Nilsson, And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?”. Though not as commercially successful as its predecessor, it is well received by the public. It spins off two singles including “Spaceman” (#23 Pop) and “Daybreak” (#39 Pop). The albums cover feature a black and white photo of Nilsson dressed as Count Dracula at the top of a staircase, with the image being staged at George Harrison’s home Friar Park in Henley On Thames, Oxfordshire, UK. Original vinyl LP copies were pressed with custom labels utilizing vintage Victor 78 RPM styled labels. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2013 as part of the box set “Nilsson – The RCA Albums Collection”, containing six additional bonus tracks. “Son Of Schmilsson” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Born on this day: June 15, 1941 – Singer, songwriter and musician Harry Nilsson (born Harry Edward Nilsson III in Brooklyn, NY). Happy Birthday to this brilliant and visionary artist on what would have been his 77th Birthday.

On this day in music history: March 12, 1974 – John Lennon and Harry Nilsson are kicked out of the Troubadour night club in West Hollywood, CA. One of the more infamous incidents to occur during Lennon’s “Lost Weekend” period, he and friend Nilsson are at the club attending the “comeback” performance of The Smothers Brothers. Both get very drunk on Brandy Alexanders and begin heckling the brothers during their performance. Lennon and Nilsson send flowers and apologies to the comedy duo the next day.

On this day in music history: February 19, 1972 – “Without You” by Nilsson hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans, it is the biggest hit for the Brooklyn, NY born singer, songwriter, and musician. Badfinger guitarist Pete Ham and bassist Tom Evans compose the song in 1970, including it on their album “No Dice”. Harry Nilsson hears the song at a party, initially mistaking it for a Beatles song. He decides to record the song for his album “Nilsson Schmilsson” with producer Richard Perry. Recorded at Trident Studios in London, the track features instrumental support from musicians including Gary Wright, Jim Keltner and Klaus Voorman. On the day of the session, Harry abruptly changes his mind, telling Perry he doesn’t want to record the song after all. Nilsson argues with Perry, who in turn suggests that they discuss the matter over tea at the Dorchester Hotel in near by Mayfair. When Perry finally persuades Nilsson to go through with the session, they hop into a taxi and go straight to the studio, where the singer records his lead vocal in a single take. Entering the Hot 100 at #99 on December 18, 1971, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The single wins Nilsson his second Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1973. “Without You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Remembering singer, songwriter and musician Harry Nilsson (born Harry Edward Nilsson III in Brooklyn, NY) – June 15, 1941 – January 15, 1994