Decades after his greatest success as a singer and songwriter, Harry Nilsson is perhaps best remembered by younger generations for one rather silly song.
But Nilsson was much more than a novelty artist. His contemporaries certainly knew it – both John Lennon and Paul McCartney once declared him their favorite musician, and he received Grammy Awards not for "Coconut" but for two other, more serious songs he recorded. One was Fred Neil’s "Everybody's Talkin'" from 1969 Oscar-winning film Midnight Cowboy, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.
Nilsson's second Grammy was also for a song he didn’t write – but when he sang it, he owned it. Originally recorded by Badfinger, "Without You" became Nilsson's only No. 1 hit on the Hot 100.
Notoriously averse to live performances, Harry Nilsson – who would have turned 71 today had he not died of heart failure in 1994 – left us with only a few concert recordings to watch… but there's still plenty of his studio work to enjoy.
" Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology" (Amazon.com)
Written by Linnea Crowther