Roger who? I am Roger Smith. (That’s not me in the photo. That’s Harry Nilsson.)
I used to manage the website at HarryNilsson.com when it was a fan site. Now Sony has a site at that domain which is the official Harry Nilsson site. The web pages I help maintain have moved to http://www.nilssonschmilsson.com/.
Harry who? Well, if you have found this site, you were probably searching for something about Harry Nilsson or you followed a link from another site about Nilsson. If either of those is the case, you are probably already familiar with the “blonde American fifth Beatle” who wrote “One (Is the Loneliest Number)” and “(Put the Lime in the) Coconut.” And you certainly know that he turned “Without You” into a world-wide hit in the early 1970s.
If you are still saying “Harry who?” please stop talking to yourself and Google the man – Harry Nilsson (that N-I-L-S-S-O-N – One L and two Ss). Googling is, for now at least, legal in most countries and, if you must Google, Googling Harry is a rewarding experience.
After all that Googling goodness, you might be surprised that Nilsson isn’t already in the Hall. He won two Grammy awards, sang “Everybody’s Talkin’” in the film Midnight Cowboy, wrote hits for Three Dog Night and others, recorded several albums of hydraulophone music, and influenced multiple generations of songwriters and performers. (Okay, I admit it. One of those things isn’t really true.)
As a recording artist, Harry struck gold with his interpretation of Fred Neil‘s “Everybody’s Talkin’” when it appeared in the soundtrack of the film Midnight Cowboy. Later he struck platinum when he recorded “Without You.” Originally written and recorded by Badfinger, Nilsson’s cover became a world-wide hit in the early 1970s and again in 1994, just after Harry died, when it was re-released under the alias “Mariah Carey.”
As a songwriter, Harry wrote songs. Blood, Sweat, and Tears recorded Harry’s “Without Her.” Three Dog Night hit it big with Nilsson’s “One.” George Burns crooned “1941” and “Maybe” was treated to the lyrical styling of Barbra Streisand. Sinead O’Conner and Wayne Newton recorded “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City,” but not as a duet.
Harry Nilsson’s influence on popular music is undeniable. Go ahead. I dare you. Try to deny it. See. I told you. It’s undeniable.
Nilsson pioneered the “remix album” with Aerial Pandemonium Ballet back in 1971. Harry’s strong, emotional, vocals and Paul Buckmaster‘s powerful arrangement of “Without You” from the album Nilsson Schmilsson, pretty much kicked off the whole “Power Ballad” genre (though, I’m sure, Nilsson would give some of the credit to earlier artists such as Ray Charles). “Jump into the Fire” (also from Nilsson Schmilsson) with it’s driving bass, inspired drumming, and screaming lyrics had to have inspired someone some time to do something (other than move a mountain or jump into a fire).
But, Harry’s influence is easiestly … err … easily demonstrated by the number and diversity of artists that have recorded and continue to perform his songs.
Baha Men, David Cassidy, Belly, Joe Cocker, The Monkees, The Fifth Dimension, Ac Rock, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland’s daughter (Liza, not Lorna), Ron Sexsmith, Diana Ross, Hugo Montenegro, Neil Diamond, Amy Mann, Glen Campbell, Marc Cohn, The Yardbirds, Jellyfish, Neko Case …. Even the King of Pop himself, Telly Savalas, recorded one of Harry’s songs.
There’s no doubt that Harry belongs in the Hall.
No, not that hall. The Hall. Harry Nilsson should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Still not convinced? Okay ... try this ... 13 Reasons Harry Nilsson Should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Some have suggested that a fan-based campaign to have Harry inducted in the Hall of Fame won’t work. They say that it is impossible to influence the Hall of Fame Foundation’s nominating committee. Yeah, but they also said we’d never be able to put cheese in a pretzel!
If you wish to support the campaign to have Harry Nilsson inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, please help us to stamp out the “Harry Who?” syndrome forever by promoting Harry and his music via your social media connections (and in real life, too, if you have one).
Play Harry’s music. Buy a copy of The Point on DVD for your kids. Set your phone’s ring tone to “You’re Breaking My Heart.” Do whatever you can to spread the word and introduce others to the music of Harry Nilsson – not only will you see Harry’s name in the list of Hall of Fame inductees, you’ll know that have helped to “keep the memory green.”