Harry Edward Nilsson III (June 15, 1941 –January 15, 1994), sometimes credited as Nilsson, was an American singer-songwriter who reached the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. His work is characterized by pioneering vocal overdub experiments, returns to the Great American Songbook, and fusions of Caribbean sounds. Nilsson was one of the few major pop-rock recording artists to achieve significant commercial success without ever performing major public concerts or undertaking regular tours.
Born in Brooklyn, Nilsson moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to escape his family’s poor financial situation. While working as a computer programmer at a bank, he grew interested in musical composition and close-harmony singing and was successful in having some of his songs recorded by various artists, such as the Monkees. In 1967, he debuted on RCA Victor with the LP Pandemonium Shadow Show, followed by a variety of releases that included a collaboration with Randy Newman (Nilsson Sings Newman, 1970) and the original children’s story The Point! (1971). He created the first remix album (Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, 1971) and recorded the first mashup song ( “You Can’t Do That“, 1967). His most commercially successful album, Nilsson Schmilsson (1971), produced the international top 10 singles “Without You” and “Coconut“. His other top 10 hit, “Everybody’s Talkin’” (1968), was featured prominently in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. A version of Nilsson’s “One“, released by Three Dog Night in 1969, also reached the U.S. top 10.
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