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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. Albums by the group Power Station:. A little over a month later, the 2-CD anthology he worked on with RCA Victor, Personal Best, was released. Album Name, Year of Release. He completed the vocal tracks for the album on 15 January 1994, and then died that night of heart failure. He is interred at the cemetery in Lugano. 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. Palmer, who made his home in Lugano, Switzerland for the past 15 years, died in Paris, France of a heart attack at the age of only 54.

His health was also deteriorating, and in 1993, he suffered a massive heart attack. Inspired by a previous collaboration with Carl Carlton on a Robert Johnson tribute album, Drive featured covers of fifteen blues standards, plus the original track "Lucky". 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 final release, Drive (2003), was critically hailed as his grittiest and most heartfelt album of his career. He joined the Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence and begain making public appearances solely to raise money for their cause. The next few years saw more touring and more compilations; the next release of new material, Rhythm and Blues (1999) contained a mixture of Little Feat influenced songs, rock, and pop. Nilsson was profoundly affected by the murder of John Lennon in December 1980. Palmer and the rest of the band completed the album Living In Fear (released in 1996), and had just begun touring when Edwards died of pneumonia.

However, Nilsson increasingly began referring to himself as as a "retired musician". Bassist John Taylor eventually backed out of the project (due to personal problems), to be replaced by Chic member Bernard Edwards. 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. In 1995, Palmer reunited with other members of The Power Station to record a second album. 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 1992 album Ridin' High was a tribute to the Tin Pan Alley era. Nilsson's musical work after leaving RCA Victor was sporadic. Throughout the 1990s, Palmer ventured further into diverse material.

This, combined with RCA Victor releasing a Nilsson Greatest Hits collection without consulting him, prompted Nilsson to leave the label. Released in 1990, it featured the Bob Dylan-penned Top 10 single "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and the Top 20 Marvin Gaye cover "Mercy Mercy Me". 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. Palmer collaborated with UB40 for his next album, Don't Explain. RCA Victor seemed to agree, and promised Nilsson a substantial marketing campaign for the album. Rolling Stone magazine voted Palmer the best-dressed rock star for 1990. 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. In 1989, he won a second Grammy for "Simply Irresistible".

Finally, Nilsson recorded what he later considered to be his favorite album, 1977's Knnillssonn. The ballad "She Makes My Day" also proved to be a hit. 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. He repeated his previous success with "Addicted to Love" with the video of "Simply Irresistible", again Palmer with a troupe of female "musicians". The resulting album, Pussy Cats, was a shock for listeners who knew Nilsson as one of the best singers of his generation. Producing Heavy Nova in 1988, Palmer again returned to experimenting, this time with bossa nova rhythms, heavy rock, and white soul balladeering. 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. In 1987, Palmer moved to Lugano, Switzerland and set up his own recording studio.

In a widely publicized incident, they were ejected from the Troubadour in West Hollywood for drunken heckling of the Smothers Brothers. Palmer was approached by Little Feat to replace Lowell George as they prepared their 1987 reunion, but had to decline for contractual reasons. However, their time together in California became known much more for heavy drinking and drug use than it did for musical collaboration. In 1987, he won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for his song "Addicted to Love". Lennon was intent upon producing Nilsson's next album, much to Nilsson's delight. Another song, "Trick Bag" was written by one of his major influences, New Orleans jazz artist Earl King. 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. The singles "Hyperactive" and "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" also performed well.

(Nilsson fans still await this film's release in some home video format.). The single was accompanied by a memorable and much parodied music video, directed by Terence Donovan, in which Palmer is surrounded by a bevy of near-identically clad, heavily made-up female "musicians". The session was filmed, and was broadcast as a television special by the BBC in the UK. Palmer recorded the album Riptide (1985), which featured the Number 1 single "Addicted to Love". 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. Palmer performed live with the band only once that year, on Saturday Night Live; the band toured with singer Michael Des Barres when Palmer bowed out at the last moment to go back into the studio to further his newly revitalized solo career. 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. Rex cover "Get It On".

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). Their eponymous album reached the Top 20 in the UK and the US and spawned two hit singles with "Some Like It Hot" and the T. Still, the album did well, and the single "Spaceman" was a Top 40 hit. In 1985, Palmer joined drummer Tony Thompson and Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor and bass player John Taylor to form the band Power Station. 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. Palmer was reputed to have a lucrative deal with the French car manufacturer to use the song's melody in its advertising, Renault having to authorise each new interpretation of the melody with Palmer in every new commercial it released. 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. The "Johnny and Mary" single would achieve immortality when its classic synth hook was used in a series of Renault TV commercials through the 1990s.

Nilsson followed quickly with Son of Schmilsson (1972), released while its predecessor was still on the charts. The success was repeated with the 1982 EP release of Some Guys Have All the Luck. 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. Catchy videos matching the synth pop stylings of New Wave gave him much needed exposure to a younger audience. The second single was "Coconut", a novelty calypso number. The album Clues, produced by Gary Numan, generated hits on both sides of the Atlantic, first with the radio-friendly single "Johnny and Mary" and then "Looking for Clues". 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 1980s saw Palmer reach the peak of his commercial success.

Nilsson Schmilsson yielded three hit singles that could not be more stylistically different from each other. Secrets produced his second Top 20 single with Moon Martin's "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)". Later that year, Nilsson went to England with producer Richard Perry to record what became the most successful album of his career. Palmer's next album was an artistic departure, concentrating on a rockier direction. Nilsson's album of songs from The Point! was well-received, and spawned a hit single, "Me and My Arrow". In 1978, he released Double Fun, a collection of Caribbean-influenced rock, which reached the Top 50 on the US Billboard magazine charts and scored a Top 20 single with the Andy Fraser-penned "Every Kinda People". Nilsson's next project was an animated film, The Point!, created with animation director Fred Wolf, and broadcast on ABC television in 1971. However, with the failure of the follow-up Some People Can Do What They Like, Palmer decided to move to the Bahamas; after that, his "expatriate lifestyle" was likely to receive more coverage than his music in British newspapers.

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. He toured with Little Feat to promote that album. 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. An album infused with his interests in reggae and rock music, it was noted for its cover art of a nude girl on a balcony rather than any commercially successful songs. 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. Subsequently relocating from London to New York City with his wife, Palmer released Pressure Drop in 1976 (featuring famed Motown bassist James Jamerson). 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". Although moderately successful in the UK, both the album and single reached the Top 100 in the US.

The result, "Best Friend", was very popular, but Nilsson never released the song on record. His first single was a cover of Little Feat's "Sailin' Shoes". 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. His first solo album Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley recorded in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1974, was heavily influenced by the music of Little Feat and the funk fusion of The Meters who acted as backing band along with producer/guitarist Lowell George of Little Feat. 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. On the basis of his youthful looks, strong stage presence, and soulful voice, Island Records signed Palmer to a solo deal. 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. Signed to the Island Records label, they released three albums: Vinegar Joe (1972), Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies (1972), and Six Star General (1973).

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'". The band lasted a year, after which Brooks and Palmer formed the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful rhythm and blues group, Vinegar Joe; Palmer sang and played rhythm guitar. He replied, "Nilsson". In 1970, Palmer joined the 12-piece jazz-rock fusion band Dada, which featured singer Elkie Brooks. Paul was then asked to name his favorite American group. The vocals for the album The Alan Bown!, originally recorded by Roden (and released in the US that way), were re-recorded by Palmer after the success of the single. He replied, "Nilsson". His first major break came with the departure of singer Jess Roden from the band The Alan Bown Set in 1969, after which Palmer was invited to London to sing on their single "Gypsy Girl".

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. Influenced as a child by blues, soul, and jazz music on American Forces Radio, Robert Palmer joined his first band, Mandrake Paddle Steamer, at the age of 15 while still an art student at Scarborough Technical College. 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 son of a British serviceman stationed in Malta, Palmer moved with his family to Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1959. 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. He was known for his soulful voice and the eclectic mix of musical styles on his albums, combining soul, jazz, rock, blues, and even yodeling. 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. Robert Allen Palmer (January 19, 1949 - September 26, 2003), born in Batley, Yorkshire, England, was a British singer.

Music industry insiders were impressed both with the songwriting, and with Nilsson's pure-toned, multi-octave vocals. Living in Fear (1997). Nilsson signed with RCA Victor in 1967 and released an album, Pandemonium Shadow Show, which was a critical (if not commercial) success. Power Station (1985). (Despite this growing success, Nilsson was still working the night shift at the bank.). Drive (2003). 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. TV Dinners (2003).

He also established a relationship with songwriter and publisher Perry Botkin, Jr., who began to find a market for Nilsson's songs. Best Of Both Worlds: The Robert Palmer Anthology (1974-2001) (2002) (compilation). In 1964, Nilsson worked with Phil Spector, writing three songs with him. Rhythm & Blues (1999). Another recording, "Donna, I Understand", convinced Mercury Records to offer Nilsson a contract, and release recordings by him under the name Johnny Niles. Woke Up Laughing (1998) (compilation). One, "Baa Baa Blackseep", was released under the pseudonym Bo Pete to some small local airplay. Very Best Of Robert Palmer (1997) (compilation).

(Little Richard, upon hearing Nilsson sing, reportedly remarked, "My! You sing good for a white boy!") Marascalco also financed some independent singles by Nilsson. Honey (1994). In 1963, Nilsson began to have some early success as a songwriter, working with John Marascalco on a song for Little Richard. Ridin' High (1992). Nilsson replied that he had already been paid -- five dollars a track.). Addictions Volume II (1992) (compilation). (Years later, when Nilsson became famous, Turner decided to release these early recordings, and contacted Nilsson to work out a fair payment. Don't Explain (1990).

Turner paid Nilsson five dollars for each track they recorded. Addictions Volume I (1989) (compilation). 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. Heavy Nova (1988). 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. Sweet Lies (1987) (single). 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. Riptide (1985).

As early as 1958, Nilsson was hooked on the new wave of music, especially rhythm and blues artists like Ray Charles. Pride (1983). He did so well, in fact, that the bank kept him on even after discovering the lie about his education. Maybe It's Live (1980) (live). (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. Clues (1980). 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. Secrets (1979).

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. Double Fun (1978). 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. Some People Can Do What They Like (1976). 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. Pressure Drop (1975). An autobiographical reference to this is found in the opening to Nilsson's song "1941":. Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley (1974).

His father, Harry Edward Nilsson, Jr., abandoned the family three years later. Nilsson was born in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York in 1941. His most well-known recordings are "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin'". 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.

For most of his recordings, he did not use his first name, and was credited only as 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. Dawn Eden, One Last Touch of Nilsson (Goldmine magazine, April 29, 1994). The Girl Next Door (2004) - "Jump Into the Fire".

Around the Bend (2004) - "Daddy's Song". Shanghai Knights (2003) - "One". The Rules of Attraction (2002) - "Without You". Punch-Drunk Love (2002) - "He Needs Me" (Shelley Duvall's version from Popeye).

Riding in Cars with Boys (2001) - "Everything's Got 'Em", "Me and My Arrow". 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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