Harry Nilsson was born Harry Edward Nelson III on June 15, 1941
, in Brooklyn
, NY and died of a heart attack
on January 15, 1994
, in Los Angeles
During his lifetime, Nilsson both sang other people's songs and composed his own and worked on both albums and soundtracks to such movies as Popeye and Angel on My Shoulder.
He was originally a bank worker in Los Angeles who sang in his spare time and wrote songs on demand. He came to the attention of RCA Victor in 1967 when Pandemonium Shadow Show was released. The title was taken from the Ray Bradbury book Something Wicked This Way Comes.
His next album was Aerial Ballet, named after his grandparents' turn-of-the-century trapeze act, in 1969, which featured a cover of Fred Neill's Everybody's Talking later used on the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy. He also provided the soundtrack for the Otto Preminger film Skidoo in which he also had a part and which was Groucho Marx's final film appearance.
The albums Harry, which included I Guess the Lord Must be in New York City, Rock & Roll and Nilsson Sings Newman followed in '69 and 1970.
In 1971 he released The Point which included a comic book of the story that takes place on the album. The Point has also been done as an animated feature, although it can be rather difficult to find. Songs from this album include Me and My Arrow and Think About Your Troubles. The story is about the boy Oblio from the Land of Point. It chronicles his adventures through the land where he meets such people as the Pointed Man ("a point in every direction is the same as having no point at all"), the Rock Man and the Three Sisters.
Nilsson then moved to London where he released his next three albums, Nilsson Schmilsson, Son of Schmilsson, and A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night. Songs from these albums include Coconut, Joy, You're Breaking My Heart, Spaceman, Without You and You're Breaking My Heart, a singular break-up song.
His next release was Pussy Cats, which was recorded back in LA, with what was eventually diagnosed as a ruptured vocal chord. He also released the albums Duit on Mon Dei and Sandman, during which time his voice was regaining much of it's former timbre and power.
His final two releases, Knillssonn and Flash Harry were unpublicized and unreleased in America, respectively and remain underexposed. The release of Knillssonn had the misfortune to come just before the death of Elvis. Shortly before his death in 1994, he had finished a "comeback" album, Papa's Got a Brown New Robe which has yet to be released.
He left behind a widow, Una, and their six children, plus another child from a previous marriage.