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Harry Nilsson

Harry Edward Nilsson III (June 15, 1941 - January 15, 1994) was an American songwriter, singer, pianist and guitarist, most popular during the 1960s and 1970s. For most of his recordings, he did not use his first name, and was credited only as Nilsson. Despite some spectacular successes, including two Grammy Awards, Nilsson's tendency to make broad stylistic jumps from one record to the next and his iconoclastic decisions kept him from capitalizing on those successes. His most well-known recordings are "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin'".

Biography

Early years

Nilsson was born in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York in 1941. His father, Harry Edward Nilsson, Jr., abandoned the family three years later. An autobiographical reference to this is found in the opening to Nilsson's song "1941":

Now, in 1941, a happy father had a son
But in 1944, the father walked right out the door

Harry grew up with his mother Bette Nilsson and his younger half-sister, periodically moving to California or back to New York, and living with a procession of relatives and stepfathers. One relative who turned out to be an important influence on him was his Uncle John, a mechanic in San Bernadino, California, who taught him to sing properly.

Due to the poor financial situation of his family, Nilsson worked from an early age, including a job at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles. When the Paramount closed (circa 1960), Nilsson applied for a job at a bank, falsely stating he was a high school graduate on his application. (He only made it through 9th grade.) He turned out to have an aptitude for computers, which were just starting to be employed by banks at the time. He did so well, in fact, that the bank kept him on even after discovering the lie about his education.

Musical beginnings

As early as 1958, Nilsson was hooked on the new wave of music, especially rhythm and blues artists like Ray Charles. He had taken early stabs at performing while he was working at the Paramount, forming a vocal duo with his friend Jerry Smith and singing close harmonies in the style of the Everly Brothers.

His job with the bank was on the night shift, so Nilsson spent his days infiltrating Los Angeles music business offices, making friends and developing connections. Uncle John's singing lessons, along with Nilsson's natural talent, surely helped when he got a job singing demos for songwriter Scott Turner in 1960. Turner paid Nilsson five dollars for each track they recorded. (Years later, when Nilsson became famous, Turner decided to release these early recordings, and contacted Nilsson to work out a fair payment. Nilsson replied that he had already been paid -- five dollars a track.)

In 1963, Nilsson began to have some early success as a songwriter, working with John Marascalco on a song for Little Richard. (Little Richard, upon hearing Nilsson sing, reportedly remarked, "My! You sing good for a white boy!") Marascalco also financed some independent singles by Nilsson. One, "Baa Baa Blackseep", was released under the pseudonym Bo Pete to some small local airplay. Another recording, "Donna, I Understand", convinced Mercury Records to offer Nilsson a contract, and release recordings by him under the name Johnny Niles.

In 1964, Nilsson worked with Phil Spector, writing three songs with him. He also established a relationship with songwriter and publisher Perry Botkin, Jr., who began to find a market for Nilsson's songs. His recording contract was picked up by Tower Records, who did nothing with it, but his songs were now being recorded by Glen Campbell, Fred Astaire, The Yardbirds, and many other artists. (Despite this growing success, Nilsson was still working the night shift at the bank.)

Signing with RCA Victor

Nilsson signed with RCA Victor in 1967 and released an album, Pandemonium Shadow Show, which was a critical (if not commercial) success. Music industry insiders were impressed both with the songwriting, and with Nilsson's pure-toned, multi-octave vocals. One such insider was Beatles press officer Derek Taylor, who bought an entire box of copies of the album to share this new sound with others. With a major-label release, and continued songwriting success (The Monkees had a hit with Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy"), Nilsson finally felt secure enough in the music business to quit his job with the bank.

Some of the albums from Derek Taylor's box eventually ended up with the Beatles themselves, who quickly became Nilsson fans. This may have been helped by the track "You Can't Do That", in which Nilsson covered one Beatles song but added 22 others in the multi-tracked background vocals. When John Lennon and Paul McCartney held a press conference in 1968 to announce the formation of Apple Corps, John was asked to name his favorite American artist. He replied, "Nilsson". Paul was then asked to name his favorite American group. He replied, "Nilsson".

Pandemonium Shadow Show was followed in 1968 by Aerial Ballet, an album that included Nilsson's rendition of Fred Neil's song "Everybody's Talkin'". A minor hit at the time of release, the song would become extremely popular a year later when it was featured in the film Midnight Cowboy, and would earn Nilsson his first Grammy Award. Aerial Ballet also contained Nilsson's version of his own composition, "One", which was later taken to the top of the charts by Three Dog Night. Nilsson was also commissioned at this time to write and perform the theme song for the ABC television series The Courtship of Eddie's Father. The result, "Best Friend", was very popular, but Nilsson never released the song on record.

Chart success

Nilsson's next album, Harry (1969), was his first to hit the charts, and also provided a Top 40 single with "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City". While the album still presented Nilsson as primarily a songwriter, his astute choice of cover material included, this time, a song by a little-known composer named Randy Newman. Nilsson was so impressed with Newman's talent that he devoted his entire next album to Newman compositions, with Newman himself playing piano behind Nilsson's multi-tracked vocals. The resuit, Nilsson Sings Newman (1970), was commercially disappointing but was named Record of the Year by Stereo Review magazine, and provided momemtum to Newman's career.

Nilsson's next project was an animated film, The Point!, created with animation director Fred Wolf, and broadcast on ABC television in 1971. Nilsson's album of songs from The Point! was well-received, and spawned a hit single, "Me and My Arrow". Later that year, Nilsson went to England with producer Richard Perry to record what became the most successful album of his career. Nilsson Schmilsson yielded three hit singles that could not be more stylistically different from each other. The first was a cover of Badfinger's song, "Without You", featuring a highly emotional arrangement and soaring vocals to match, a performance that was rewarded with Nilsson's second Grammy Award. The second single was "Coconut", a novelty calypso number. The third, "Jump Into the Fire", was raucous, screaming rock and roll, including a drum solo by Derek and the Dominos' Jim Gordon and a bass detuning by Herbie Flowers.

Nilsson followed quickly with Son of Schmilsson (1972), released while its predecessor was still on the charts. Besides the problem of competing with himself, Nilsson's decision to give free rein to his bawdiness and bluntness on this release alienated some of his earlier, more conservative fan base. With lyrics like "I sang my balls off for you, baby", "Roll the world over / And give her a kiss and a feel", and the notorious "You're breaking my heart / You're tearing it apart / So f--k you", Nilsson had travelled far afield from his earlier work. Still, the album did well, and the single "Spaceman" was a Top 40 hit.

The maverick

This disregard for commercialism in favor of artistic satisfaction showed itself in Nilsson's next release, A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973). Performing a selection of pop standards by the likes of Irving Berlin and Kalmar & Ruby, Nilsson sang in front of an orchestra arranged and conducted by veteran Gordon Jenkins in sessions produced by his constant supporter Derek Taylor. While in hindsight, the sessions showcased an extremely talented singer in one of his best performances, this was not the sort of thing that was going to burn up the charts in the 1970s. The session was filmed, and was broadcast as a television special by the BBC in the UK. (Nilsson fans still await this film's release in some home video format.)

1974 found Nilsson back in California, and when John Lennon moved there during his separation from Yoko Ono, the two musicians rekindled their earlier friendship. Lennon was intent upon producing Nilsson's next album, much to Nilsson's delight. However, their time together in California became known much more for heavy drinking and drug use than it did for musical collaboration. In a widely publicized incident, they were ejected from the Troubadour in West Hollywood for drunken heckling of the Smothers Brothers. To make matters worse, Nilsson ruptured a vocal cord during the sessions for this album, but hid the fact due to fear that Lennon would call a halt to the production. The resulting album, Pussy Cats, was a shock for listeners who knew Nilsson as one of the best singers of his generation.

Nilsson's voice had mostly recovered by his next release, Duit on Mon Dei (1975), but neither it nor its follow-ups, Sandman and ...That's the Way It Is (both 1976) met with chart success. Finally, Nilsson recorded what he later considered to be his favorite album, 1977's Knnillssonn. With his voice strong again, and his songs exploring musical territory reminiscent of Harry or The Point!, Nilsson had every right to expect Knnillssonn to be a comeback album. RCA Victor seemed to agree, and promised Nilsson a substantial marketing campaign for the album. However, the death of Elvis Presley caused RCA Victor to ignore everything except meeting demand for Presley's back catalog, and the promised marketing push never happened. This, combined with RCA Victor releasing a Nilsson Greatest Hits collection without consulting him, prompted Nilsson to leave the label.

Winding down

Nilsson's musical work after leaving RCA Victor was sporadic. He wrote a musical play, Zapata, with Perry Botkin, Jr., which got as far as being performed in Connecticut but never moved to Broadway. He wrote all the songs for Robert Altman's movie-musical Popeye (1980), and recorded one more album, Flash Harry, which was released in the UK but not in the USA. However, Nilsson increasingly began referring to himself as as a "retired musician".

Nilsson was profoundly affected by the murder of John Lennon in December 1980. He joined the Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence and begain making public appearances solely to raise money for their cause.

Nilsson found himself in a dire financial situation when his trusted financial adviser embezzled all the money he had ever made as a recording artist. His health was also deteriorating, and in 1993, he suffered a massive heart attack. After surviving that, he began pressing his old label, RCA Victor, to release a boxed-set retrospective of his career, and also started recording again, attempting to complete one final album. He completed the vocal tracks for the album on 15 January 1994, and then died that night of heart failure. A little over a month later, the 2-CD anthology he worked on with RCA Victor, Personal Best, was released.

As of 2005, Nilsson's final album, tentatively titled Papa's Got a Brown New Robe, has never been released.

Discography

  • Spotlight on Nilsson (1966)
  • Pandemonium Shadow Show (1967)
  • Aerial Ballet (1968)
  • Skidoo (soundtrack) (1968)
  • Harry (1969)
  • Nilsson Sings Newman (1970)
  • The Point! (1971)
  • Aerial Pandemonium Ballet (1971)
  • Nilsson Schmilsson (1971)
  • Son of Schmilsson (1972)
  • A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973)
  • Son of Dracula (1974)
  • Pussy Cats (1974)
  • Duit on Mon Dei (1975)
  • Sandman (1976)
  • ...That's the Way It Is (1976)
  • Knnillssonn (1977)
  • Flash Harry (1980) (not released in USA)

Film and television

  • Skidoo (1968) songs written and performed, soundtrack music composer, actor (bit role)
  • The Courtship of Eddie's Father (TV series, 1969-1972) theme song written and performed, incidental music
  • Midnight Cowboy (1969) new version of "Everybody's Talkin'" performed
  • Jenny (1970) song "Waiting" written and performed
  • The Point! (1971) story, all songs written and performed
  • Son of Dracula (1974) actor (lead role), all songs performed
  • The World's Greatest Lover (1978) song "Ain't It Kinda Wonderful" performed
  • In God We Trust (1980) new version of "Good For God" performed
  • Popeye (1980) all songs written
  • Handgun (1983) song "Lay Down Your Arms" written and performed
  • First Impressions (TV series, 1988) theme song co-written, performed
  • Camp Candy (TV series, animated, 1989-1991) theme song written, and performed with John Candy
  • The Fisher King (1991) song "How About You" performed
  • Me, Myself and I (1992) song "Me, Myself and I" written and performed

Use of Nilsson recordings in films

  • Dusty and Sweets McGee (1971) - "Don't Leave Me"
  • La Mortadella (1971) - "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City"
  • All That Jazz (1979) - "Perfect Day"
  • Real Life (1979) - "Jump Into the Fire"
  • Goodfellas (1990) - "Jump Into the Fire"
  • Reservoir Dogs (1992) - "Coconut"
  • Caroline (animated short, 1993) - "Caroline"
  • Private School for Girls (1993) - "You're Breakin' My Heart"
  • Forrest Gump (1994) - "Everybody's Talkin'"
  • Casino (1995) - "Without You"
  • Angel on My Shoulder (1997)
  • Ellen Foster (1997) - "Remember"
  • The Ice Storm (1997) - "Coconut"
  • Practical Magic (1998) - "Coconut"
  • You've Got Mail (1998) - "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City", "Remember", "The Puppy Song", "Over The Rainbow"
  • High Fidelity (2000) - "The Moonbeam Song"
  • Bridget Jones' Diary (2001) - "Without You"
  • Riding in Cars with Boys (2001) - "Everything's Got 'Em", "Me and My Arrow"
  • Punch-Drunk Love (2002) - "He Needs Me" (Shelley Duvall's version from Popeye)
  • The Rules of Attraction (2002) - "Without You"
  • Shanghai Knights (2003) - "One"
  • Around the Bend (2004) - "Daddy's Song"
  • The Girl Next Door (2004) - "Jump Into the Fire"

Sources

  • Dawn Eden, One Last Touch of Nilsson (Goldmine magazine, April 29, 1994)

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As of 2005, Nilsson's final album, tentatively titled Papa's Got a Brown New Robe, has never been released.
. A little over a month later, the 2-CD anthology he worked on with RCA Victor, Personal Best, was released. Listen to Live Recordings for free on the Live Phish (http://www.livephish.com) site. He completed the vocal tracks for the album on 15 January 1994, and then died that night of heart failure. Setlists for this last run can be found at The Phish Net (http://www.phish.net/setlists/), and you can purchase and download the shows at the Live Phish (http://www.livephish.com) website. After surviving that, he began pressing his old label, RCA Victor, to release a boxed-set retrospective of his career, and also started recording again, attempting to complete one final album. Show highlights included the "sending-off" of the trampolines used during the bands perfomances of "You Enjoy Myself", a very emotional "Wading in the Velvet Sea", where band member Page McConnell was too choked up to sing the lyrics, a magnificent glowstick war (http://www.phish.net/faq/glowrings.html) during "Down With Disease", and of course the show closer "The Curtain With".

His health was also deteriorating, and in 1993, he suffered a massive heart attack. Though considered by some to be technically lacking, the emotion of both band and fan was palpable, and it was an experience many will never forget. Nilsson found himself in a dire financial situation when his trusted financial adviser embezzled all the money he had ever made as a recording artist. Also, it should be noted that anyone who was unable or unwilling to take the hike was invited to present their un-checked ticket in return for a book of band photos taken by Danny Clinch and autographed by the band (which have since become quite valuable) as well as a free download of the entire event from the Live Phish website. He joined the Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence and begain making public appearances solely to raise money for their cause. The majority of the fans who participated in the hike felt like they part of something incredibly special. Nilsson was profoundly affected by the murder of John Lennon in December 1980. Because of this, many, MANY people turned around and left the show, leaving an upsetting taste in many of the fans mouths. On the positive side, even more people pulled their cars to the shoulder of the interstate, parked, and began the day long hike. Vermont state police were overwhelmed with the amount of cars on the side of the road, so the fans were confident that towing would not occur.

However, Nilsson increasingly began referring to himself as as a "retired musician". Early Saturday morning, Mike Gordon painfully announced via their radio station, The Bunny, that no further cars would be let into the venue. He wrote all the songs for Robert Altman's movie-musical Popeye (1980), and recorded one more album, Flash Harry, which was released in the UK but not in the USA. Many of those in attendance hiked upwards of 20 miles to the show after weather conditions made further onsite parking impossible. He wrote a musical play, Zapata, with Perry Botkin, Jr., which got as far as being performed in Connecticut but never moved to Broadway. The festival was an emotional event for the band and fans alike, attended by well over 70,000 fans and was also broadcast locally on FM radio, on XM satellite radio, and simulcast in high-definition video to hundreds of movie theaters nationwide. Nilsson's musical work after leaving RCA Victor was sporadic. Coventry was held in the band's "home state" of Vermont on August 14 and 15, 2004.

This, combined with RCA Victor releasing a Nilsson Greatest Hits collection without consulting him, prompted Nilsson to leave the label. Then Phish headed home, to the Northeast, for two shows at Great Woods in Mansfield, Mass., a show in Camden, NJ, and the final show, Coventry. However, the death of Elvis Presley caused RCA Victor to ignore everything except meeting demand for Presley's back catalog, and the promised marketing push never happened. To augment this anticipation, Phish added another show at Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA, just two weeks before the run started. RCA Victor seemed to agree, and promised Nilsson a substantial marketing campaign for the album. The tour then took a break of several weeks, building the fans anticipation of the final run. With his voice strong again, and his songs exploring musical territory reminiscent of Harry or The Point!, Nilsson had every right to expect Knnillssonn to be a comeback album. Both midwest venues had long been fan favorites.

Finally, Nilsson recorded what he later considered to be his favorite album, 1977's Knnillssonn. Two shows at the beautiful Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY, followed, before the band headed to the midwest to hit the classic Deer Creek Ampitheater and Alpine Valley Ampitheater for two nights each. Nilsson's voice had mostly recovered by his next release, Duit on Mon Dei (1975), but neither it nor its follow-ups, Sandman and ...That's the Way It Is (both 1976) met with chart success. It started with two shows at Keyspan Park on Coney Island in Brooklyn, a venue radically different from the arenas and ampitheaters that had been Phish's domain (with a few exceptions) since around 1994. The resulting album, Pussy Cats, was a shock for listeners who knew Nilsson as one of the best singers of his generation. The tour was quite a send-off, however. To make matters worse, Nilsson ruptured a vocal cord during the sessions for this album, but hid the fact due to fear that Lennon would call a halt to the production. We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act." So ended Phish's twenty-one year run, with a two-leg tour of 14 shows.

In a widely publicized incident, they were ejected from the Troubadour in West Hollywood for drunken heckling of the Smothers Brothers. Trey stated ". However, their time together in California became known much more for heavy drinking and drug use than it did for musical collaboration. On May 25, 2004 Phish frontman Trey Anastasio announced via the Official Phish website (http://www.phish.com) that the Summer 2004 Tour would be their final tour, and that the 2004 album Undermind would also be their final album. Lennon was intent upon producing Nilsson's next album, much to Nilsson's delight. A partial list can be found on the Phish Net Guest FAQ page (http://www.phish.net/faq/guests.html). 1974 found Nilsson back in California, and when John Lennon moved there during his separation from Yoko Ono, the two musicians rekindled their earlier friendship. King, George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic, Jay-Z, and bluegrass legends Del McCoury and Bela Fleck.

(Nilsson fans still await this film's release in some home video format.). Phish truly transcend genres, as evidenced by the sheer number of guests who have taken the stage with them over the years. Notables include Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead (who showed up at their final pre-hiatus show, 7 October 2000), blues legend B.B. The session was filmed, and was broadcast as a television special by the BBC in the UK. All net profits from the sale of soundboard recordings from their website are donated directly to the Mockingbird Foundation, a non-profit organization of Phish fans supporting music education for children. While in hindsight, the sessions showcased an extremely talented singer in one of his best performances, this was not the sort of thing that was going to burn up the charts in the 1970s. They may freely give or trade them with other fans, however, and many do. Performing a selection of pop standards by the likes of Irving Berlin and Kalmar & Ruby, Nilsson sang in front of an orchestra arranged and conducted by veteran Gordon Jenkins in sessions produced by his constant supporter Derek Taylor. Though soundboard copies of Phish's shows are now pressed and sold on the band's website, fans are also permitted to tape any performance they so desire, with the understanding that no profits from the recording are to be made.

This disregard for commercialism in favor of artistic satisfaction showed itself in Nilsson's next release, A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973). Like the Grateful Dead before them, Phish (along with an increasing number of bands these days) have always allowed people to record and distribute audio of their live performances. Still, the album did well, and the single "Spaceman" was a Top 40 hit. While the band knew and emulated the group they are quick to point out they are technically very different from them. With lyrics like "I sang my balls off for you, baby", "Roll the world over / And give her a kiss and a feel", and the notorious "You're breaking my heart / You're tearing it apart / So f--k you", Nilsson had travelled far afield from his earlier work. The free and artistic community which often accompanies them has as its roots the followers of the Grateful Dead. Besides the problem of competing with himself, Nilsson's decision to give free rein to his bawdiness and bluntness on this release alienated some of his earlier, more conservative fan base. Phish fans are often associated in the public eye with a revival of some elements of hippie culture, especially marijuana use.

Nilsson followed quickly with Son of Schmilsson (1972), released while its predecessor was still on the charts. Other music groups have had flavors named after them as well, with the Grateful Dead being the first ("Cherry Garcia (http://www.benandjerrys.com/our_products/flavor_details.cfm?product_id=5)") and Dave Matthews Band being among the more recent ("One Sweet Whirled") and ("Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies (http://www.benandjerrys.com/our_products/flavor_details.cfm?product_id=151)"). The third, "Jump Into the Fire", was raucous, screaming rock and roll, including a drum solo by Derek and the Dominos' Jim Gordon and a bass detuning by Herbie Flowers. The band's share of the profits go towards the cleaning of Lake Champlain. The second single was "Coconut", a novelty calypso number. It is Ben and Jerry's third highest selling flavor as of 2000. The first was a cover of Badfinger's song, "Without You", featuring a highly emotional arrangement and soaring vocals to match, a performance that was rewarded with Nilsson's second Grammy Award. Ben and Jerry named a flavour of ice cream after them, "Phish Food." It has chocolate ice cream with gooey marshmallows and fudge fish.

Nilsson Schmilsson yielded three hit singles that could not be more stylistically different from each other. The band in fact only had one non-album b-side on all of their officially-released singles, an outtake from Billy Breathes entitled "Strange Design" from overseas copies of their song "Free". Later that year, Nilsson went to England with producer Richard Perry to record what became the most successful album of his career. In fact, the culture surrounding the Phish was discussed much more frequently by the media than the actual music. Nilsson's album of songs from The Point! was well-received, and spawned a hit single, "Me and My Arrow". In fact, the group only had one foray into music video, that for their song Down With Disease, cobbled in part from their legendary live performances, and directed by Mike Gordon. Nilsson's next project was an animated film, The Point!, created with animation director Fred Wolf, and broadcast on ABC television in 1971. Despite the great successes by the band, the group seldom found themselves regularly on the radio or MTV.

The resuit, Nilsson Sings Newman (1970), was commercially disappointing but was named Record of the Year by Stereo Review magazine, and provided momemtum to Newman's career. Coventry is further discussed below. Nilsson was so impressed with Newman's talent that he devoted his entire next album to Newman compositions, with Newman himself playing piano behind Nilsson's multi-tracked vocals. This 2 segment tour ended with the Coventry festival on August 14th and 15th, 2004, which was a very emotional, though not well played, farewell. While the album still presented Nilsson as primarily a songwriter, his astute choice of cover material included, this time, a song by a little-known composer named Randy Newman. 2nd, a stellar four night New Year's run in Miami, a three night April 2004 Las Vegas run, and the final summer tour of 2004. Nilsson's next album, Harry (1969), was his first to hit the charts, and also provided a Top 40 single with "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City". 28th - Dec.

The result, "Best Friend", was very popular, but Nilsson never released the song on record. After the IT festival, a few days after the Starlake show, Phish played a 4 night anniversary run from Nov. Nilsson was also commissioned at this time to write and perform the theme song for the ABC television series The Courtship of Eddie's Father. On this night, Trey declared that the ficticious character "Jimmy" mentioned in songs like "Squirming Coil" and during nearly every "Harpua" story was really drummer Jon Fishman, cluing the fans in to one of Phish's inside jokes (similar to Paul McCartney of the Beatles being the "Walrus"). Aerial Ballet also contained Nilsson's version of his own composition, "One", which was later taken to the top of the charts by Three Dog Night. "Harpua" is one of the most rarely played Phish originals, and is known for the stories Trey tells during the middle section. A minor hit at the time of release, the song would become extremely popular a year later when it was featured in the film Midnight Cowboy, and would earn Nilsson his first Grammy Award. During the second set the song "Harpua" was played for the last time.

Pandemonium Shadow Show was followed in 1968 by Aerial Ballet, an album that included Nilsson's rendition of Fred Neil's song "Everybody's Talkin'". During the first set, the first 9 songs played made their first appearance that tour, with many being the first versions since Hiatus ended, delighting those fortunate enough to be in attendence. He replied, "Nilsson". Notable during this summer tour was the July 29th show at the Star Lake Ampitheater in Burgettstown, Pennsylvaina. Paul was then asked to name his favorite American group. They completed a Winter and Summer Tour for 2003. He replied, "Nilsson". Phish ended the self-imposed hiatus with a sold-out New Year's Eve (12/31/02) show at Madison Square Garden in New York City followed by a 3 show run in Hampton, VA.

When John Lennon and Paul McCartney held a press conference in 1968 to announce the formation of Apple Corps, John was asked to name his favorite American artist. Bruce Hampron and making films such as Outside Out and The Deep End, along with touring with The Benevento Russo Duo. Some of the albums from Derek Taylor's box eventually ended up with the Beatles themselves, who quickly became Nilsson fans. This may have been helped by the track "You Can't Do That", in which Nilsson covered one Beatles song but added 22 others in the multi-tracked background vocals. The band members then began embarking on side projects: Trey fronting his own 10-piece band featuring Cyro Baptista and Jennifer Hartswick and working with Stewart Copeland of The Police and Les Claypool of Primus in the super group Oysterhead, Page forming the trio Vida Blue with Russell Batiste (The Meters) and Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers), Fish performing with Pork Tornado and Jazz Mandolin Project, and Mike working on his own solo album with help from artists such as Bela Fleck and Col. With a major-label release, and continued songwriting success (The Monkees had a hit with Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy"), Nilsson finally felt secure enough in the music business to quit his job with the bank. Phish toured throughout the summer and fall of 2000, and began a hiatus at the end of the tour (The first break longer than a few months for 17 years). One such insider was Beatles press officer Derek Taylor, who bought an entire box of copies of the album to share this new sound with others. It is, in this sense, not altogether surprising that the band's hiatus came but 10 months after Big Cypress.

Music industry insiders were impressed both with the songwriting, and with Nilsson's pure-toned, multi-octave vocals. The band later commented that this performance was a true highlight for them, so much so that it was the apex of their time as a band. Nilsson signed with RCA Victor in 1967 and released an album, Pandemonium Shadow Show, which was a critical (if not commercial) success. The "Midnight to Sunrise" set included a performance of "Heavy Things" that was broadcast on ABC at around 2:30 am EST as part of the millennium celebrations. (Despite this growing success, Nilsson was still working the night shift at the bank.). The final day of this festival was capped by a now legendary eight hour set that ran from shortly before midnight on December 31, 1999 until roughly 8 am the next morning. His recording contract was picked up by Tower Records, who did nothing with it, but his songs were now being recorded by Glen Campbell, Fred Astaire, The Yardbirds, and many other artists. The concert at Big Cypress was particularly notable, for the band and the fans alike.

He also established a relationship with songwriter and publisher Perry Botkin, Jr., who began to find a market for Nilsson's songs. Their fame grew with each successive release and, instead of succumbing to the pressures of huge stadium concerts, the band began organizing massive festivals such as the Clifford Ball (1996 in music), Great Went (1997 in music), Lemonwheel (1998 in music), Oswego (1999 in music), a 3 day millennium concert at the Big Cypress Seminole reservation at the end of 1999 (1999 in music), and the IT festival at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine held in August, 2003. In 1964, Nilsson worked with Phil Spector, writing three songs with him. Phish fans are extremely giving, and with a little cajoling, you'll be on your way. Another recording, "Donna, I Understand", convinced Mercury Records to offer Nilsson a contract, and release recordings by him under the name Johnny Niles. To really hear Phish, you must get live recordings, which can be bought through the Live Phish (http://www.livephish.com) website, or traded on any number of music messageboards. One, "Baa Baa Blackseep", was released under the pseudonym Bo Pete to some small local airplay. Phish is a live band, and studio albums often don't give an accurate picture of what the band is really capable of.

(Little Richard, upon hearing Nilsson sing, reportedly remarked, "My! You sing good for a white boy!") Marascalco also financed some independent singles by Nilsson. They have also released three DVDs of live performances, one from a Las Vegas performance on September 30, 2000, a documentary about life on the road entitled Bittersweet Motel and a documentary about their 2003 festival in Limestone, ME called, simply, "IT" (http://www.phish.com/drygoods/home/product.html?pid=100DV&cid=19&pg=). In 1963, Nilsson began to have some early success as a songwriter, working with John Marascalco on a song for Little Richard. The Live Phish Series began in late 2001. Nilsson replied that he had already been paid -- five dollars a track.). Phish is also releasing a steady stream of recorded live concerts from their archives, which contain thousands of concerts. Six albums are released twice each year. (Years later, when Nilsson became famous, Turner decided to release these early recordings, and contacted Nilsson to work out a fair payment. Note: All album information is taken from The Pharmer's Almanac book released in 2000..

Turner paid Nilsson five dollars for each track they recorded. They were signed to Elektra Records and released:. Uncle John's singing lessons, along with Nilsson's natural talent, surely helped when he got a job singing demos for songwriter Scott Turner in 1960. They recorded their debut album, "Junta" in 1988 (1988 in music), and began touring nationally soon after, playing 150 concerts in 1990 (1990 in music) alone. His job with the bank was on the night shift, so Nilsson spent his days infiltrating Los Angeles music business offices, making friends and developing connections. Their more epic compositions (such as "The Divided Sky" and "You Enjoy Myself") are often said to resemble classical music in a rock setting. He had taken early stabs at performing while he was working at the Paramount, forming a vocal duo with his friend Jerry Smith and singing close harmonies in the style of the Everly Brothers. Phish began playing at local clubs in Burlington, and their live shows gained a reputation for extended improvisational jams. Their musical ethos is a playful mix of skilled improvisation, psychedelic rock, folk, bluegrass, funk, a capella/barbershop quartet, and intricate compositions. Some of their original compositions (such as "Theme from the Bottom" and "Farmhouse") tend towards a psychedelic-rock and bluegrass fusion, with more rock and funk elements than the Grateful Dead and other earlier so-called jam bands.

As early as 1958, Nilsson was hooked on the new wave of music, especially rhythm and blues artists like Ray Charles. After 21 years together, the band parted ways in 2004. He did so well, in fact, that the bank kept him on even after discovering the lie about his education. In early 1986, Holdsworth left the group, thus solidifying the band's classic lineup. (He only made it through 9th grade.) He turned out to have an aptitude for computers, which were just starting to be employed by banks at the time. In 1985, Page McConnell joined on keyboards. When the Paramount closed (circa 1960), Nilsson applied for a job at a bank, falsely stating he was a high school graduate on his application. Phish, a US band, was formed in 1983 (1983 in music) at the University of Vermont by guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio, rhythm guitarist Jeff Holdsworth, bassist Mike Gordon, and drummer Jonathan Fishman.

Due to the poor financial situation of his family, Nilsson worked from an early age, including a job at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles. Download sample of "Farmhouse" from Farmhouse. One relative who turned out to be an important influence on him was his Uncle John, a mechanic in San Bernadino, California, who taught him to sing properly. Undermind (2004 in music). Harry grew up with his mother Bette Nilsson and his younger half-sister, periodically moving to California or back to New York, and living with a procession of relatives and stepfathers. Round Room (2002 in music). An autobiographical reference to this is found in the opening to Nilsson's song "1941":. Farmhouse (2000 in music).

His father, Harry Edward Nilsson, Jr., abandoned the family three years later. Hampton Comes Alive (1999 in music). Nilsson was born in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York in 1941. The Siket Disc (1999 in music) - "All music on this disc was recorded live (no overdubs) during two multi-day jam sessions at Bearsville Studios in 1997." (1997 in music). His most well-known recordings are "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin'". The Story of the Ghost (1998 in music). Despite some spectacular successes, including two Grammy Awards, Nilsson's tendency to make broad stylistic jumps from one record to the next and his iconoclastic decisions kept him from capitalizing on those successes. Slip Stitch and Pass (1997 in music) - Recorded live at Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany, March 1, 1997.

For most of his recordings, he did not use his first name, and was credited only as Nilsson. Billy Breathes (1996 in music). Harry Edward Nilsson III (June 15, 1941 - January 15, 1994) was an American songwriter, singer, pianist and guitarist, most popular during the 1960s and 1970s. A Live One (1995 in music) - Recorded live during the fall of 1994. Dawn Eden, One Last Touch of Nilsson (Goldmine magazine, April 29, 1994). Hoist (1994 in music). The Girl Next Door (2004) - "Jump Into the Fire". Rift (1993 in music).

Around the Bend (2004) - "Daddy's Song". Picture of Nectar (1992 in music). Shanghai Knights (2003) - "One". Lawn Boy (1990 in music). The Rules of Attraction (2002) - "Without You". Junta (1988 in music). Punch-Drunk Love (2002) - "He Needs Me" (Shelley Duvall's version from Popeye). The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday (1987 in music).

Riding in Cars with Boys (2001) - "Everything's Got 'Em", "Me and My Arrow". Phish (1986 in music). Bridget Jones' Diary (2001) - "Without You". High Fidelity (2000) - "The Moonbeam Song". You've Got Mail (1998) - "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City", "Remember", "The Puppy Song", "Over The Rainbow".

Practical Magic (1998) - "Coconut". The Ice Storm (1997) - "Coconut". Ellen Foster (1997) - "Remember". Angel on My Shoulder (1997).

Casino (1995) - "Without You". Forrest Gump (1994) - "Everybody's Talkin'". Private School for Girls (1993) - "You're Breakin' My Heart". Caroline (animated short, 1993) - "Caroline".

Reservoir Dogs (1992) - "Coconut". Goodfellas (1990) - "Jump Into the Fire". Real Life (1979) - "Jump Into the Fire". All That Jazz (1979) - "Perfect Day".

La Mortadella (1971) - "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City". Dusty and Sweets McGee (1971) - "Don't Leave Me". Me, Myself and I (1992) song "Me, Myself and I" written and performed. The Fisher King (1991) song "How About You" performed.

Camp Candy (TV series, animated, 1989-1991) theme song written, and performed with John Candy. First Impressions (TV series, 1988) theme song co-written, performed. Handgun (1983) song "Lay Down Your Arms" written and performed. Popeye (1980) all songs written.

In God We Trust (1980) new version of "Good For God" performed. The World's Greatest Lover (1978) song "Ain't It Kinda Wonderful" performed. Son of Dracula (1974) actor (lead role), all songs performed. The Point! (1971) story, all songs written and performed.

Jenny (1970) song "Waiting" written and performed. Midnight Cowboy (1969) new version of "Everybody's Talkin'" performed. The Courtship of Eddie's Father (TV series, 1969-1972) theme song written and performed, incidental music. Skidoo (1968) songs written and performed, soundtrack music composer, actor (bit role).

Flash Harry (1980) (not released in USA). Knnillssonn (1977). ...That's the Way It Is (1976). Sandman (1976).

Duit on Mon Dei (1975). Pussy Cats (1974). Son of Dracula (1974). A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973).

Son of Schmilsson (1972). Nilsson Schmilsson (1971). Aerial Pandemonium Ballet (1971). The Point! (1971).

Nilsson Sings Newman (1970). Harry (1969). Skidoo (soundtrack) (1968). Aerial Ballet (1968).

Pandemonium Shadow Show (1967). Spotlight on Nilsson (1966).

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