The Work of Singer Songwriter Harry Nilsson

Updated on September 19, 2017
Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

I'm a writer, a poet, a dreamer. Born and raised in New York City. I live in the suburbs of Riga, Latvia. I have a wonderful cat named Sid.

An American singer and songwriter Harry Nilsson achieved his fame in the early 70s. The singles he’s most known for are “Everybody’s Talkin’”, “Without You”, and “Coconut”. He has also written songs for rock groups. Nilsson wrote the song “One” made popular by The Three Dog Night. Nilsson was also popular with The Beatles especially Paul McCartney and John Lennon. The Monkees had a success with Nilsson’s song “Cuddly Toy” and band member Mickey Dolenze remained his closest friend till his death in 1994.

Two of his recordings have received Grammys: Best Male Contemporary Vocal for “Everybody’s Talkin’” which was a prominent song in the movie “Midnight Cowboy” which won an Academy Award in 1969 and Best Male Pop Vocal for “Without You” in 1972.

His most notable album which included both of his greatest hits “Without You” and “Coconut” came out in 1971 called Nilsson Schmilsson. It also included a screaming rock and roll type of song “Jump into the Fire”. Harry Nilsson quickly released Son of Schmilsson in 1972 and even though it did not have the success of the last album it had the single “Spaceman” which rose up on the charts. In 1973 he came out with A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night. This recording session was also filmed as a TV special by the BBC in the U.K. Nilsson sang in front of an orchestra performing a selection of pop standards.

Among his best songs are “You’re Breaking My Heart”, “The Moonbeam Song”, “Don’t Forget Me” and “Let the Good Times Roll”. He was such an incredible and versatile singer that he has many different kinds of songs for many different musical tastes.

In the 80s trying hard to make some kind of a comeback Harry Nilsson failed at every turn. Finally on September 1, 1992 he made his final concert appearance joining Ringo Starr and His All Star Band onstage at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tragedy struck when he suffered a massive heart attack in 1993. Having survived he began working on a compilation of all of his music. He hadn’t quite finished it when he died of heart failure on January 15, 1994. He was just 52 years old.

The 2-CD anthology Personal Best which he had been working on was released in 1995. In 2006 the documentary Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talking About Him?) was shown at the Seattle International Film Festival and at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Gypsy Rose Lee


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      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

        Very versatile indeed! Enjoyed the musical flashback.

      • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee 23 months ago from Riga, Latvia

        Yes, it is a wonder why the most talented ones go so very young Shauna. Especially when they still have so much to give.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 23 months ago from Central Florida

        I just love your music hubs, Rasma. Nillson was a favorite of mine. Excellent singer/songwriter. I didn't know he was friends with Mickey Dolenz or Ringo Starr. It's a shame he died so young.

      • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee 2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

        He was very talented and a most versatile musician Bill.

        Glad you enjoyed this Ruby.

        Glad you enjoyed this Manatita. First song I ever heard by him was Without You.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 2 years ago from london

        Didn't remember him, but once I started hearing the songs.....such classics! I can't live ... he reminds me of David Essex. Nice one, Gypsy.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

        I'm sitting here tapping my toes to Let The Good Times Roll. He wrote some great songs. Sad that he died so young. Interesting review Rasma...

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

        He was a musical genius and one of my favorite musicians....tragic life in many ways but man alive, could that man ever write and perform a song. :)