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Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter


Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Paul McCartney and John Lennon described him as the Beatles' "favorite group," he won Grammy awards, wrote and recorded hit songs, and yet no figure in popular music is as much of a paradox, or as underrated, as Harry Nilsson.

In this first ever full-length biography, Alyn Shipton traces Nilsson's life from his Brooklyn childhood to his Los Angeles adolescence and his gradual emergence as a uniquely talented singer-songwriter. With interviews from friends, family, and associates, and material drawn from an unfinished autobiography, Shipton probes beneath the enigma to discover the real Harry Nilsson. A major celebrity at a time when huge concerts and festivals were becoming the norm, Nilsson shunned live performance. His venue was the studio, his stage the dubbing booth, his greatest triumphs masterful examples of studio craft. He was a gifted composer of songs for a wide variety of performers, including the Ronettes, the Yardbirds, and the Monkees, yet Nilsson's own biggest hits were almost all written by other songwriters. He won two Grammy awards, in 1969 for "Everybody's Talkin'" (the theme song for Midnight Cowboy), and in 1972 for "Without You," had two top ten singles, numerous album successes, and wrote a number of songs--"Coconut" and "Jump into the Fire," to name just two--that still sound remarkably fresh and original today. He was once described by his producer Richard Perry as "the finest white male singer on the planet," but near the end of his life, Nilsson's career was marked by voice-damaging substance abuse and the infamous deaths of both Keith Moon and Mama Cass in his London flat.

Drawing on exclusive access to Nilsson's papers, Alyn Shipton's biography offers readers an intimate portrait of a man who has seemed both famous and unknowable--until now.

About the Author

Alyn Shipton is the award-winning author of many books on music including A New History of Jazz, Groovin' High: the Life of Dizzy Gillespie, and Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway. He is jazz critic for The Times in London and has presented jazz programs on BBC radio since 1989. He is also an accomplished double bassist and has played with many traditional and mainstream jazz bands.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: 1941

Chapter 2: Good Old Desk

Chapter 3: Mr. Richland's Favorite Song

Chapter 4: Open Your Window

Chapter 5: Gotta Get Up

Chapter 6: It Had To Be You

Chapter 7: Don't Forget Me

Chapter 8: Turn Out The Light

Chapter 9: Perfect Day

Chapter 10: It's So Easy

Chapter 11: Lay Down Your Arms

Chapter 12: Epilogue

Nilsson on CD




Product Details

Shipton, Alyn L.
Oxford University Press, USA
Shipton, Alyn
Music | Popular Music | Pop, Rock, & Popular Culture
Composers & Musicians
Biography-Composers and Musicians
Publication Date:
30 halftones
6.5 x 9.4 x 1.3 in 1.394 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Rock » Biographies
Arts and Entertainment » Music » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Popular Performers
Biography » Composers and Musicians
Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts
Featured Titles » Biography
History and Social Science » Politics » General

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Product details 368 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199756575 Reviews:
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