Today in Music History, February 26

On this date 41 years ago Harry Nilsson ‘s version of “Without You” was number one in the U.S.A.

At the time, Harry was best known for the hit “Everybody’s Talkin” from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack.    He very rarely performed ( thus the tribute video below)  but composed numerous hits including “One” taken to great heights  by Three Dog Night.     The song appeared on his 1971  US album release entitled Nilsson Schmilsson. It stayed number one from mid February through mid March 1972.   Paul McCartney once described the song as “the killer song of all time.”   The song was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger – a band under the Beatles/Apple tutelage.  Nilsson heard it, thought it was a Beatles song and upon realizing it was not, decided to cover it on an upcoming album.

The single was produced by Richard Perry who said later, “It was a different record for its time. It was a big ballad with a heavy backbeat, and although many artists have cut songs like it since, no one was doing it then.”    Key personnel who played on this cut include Gary Wright of “Dreamweaver” fame,  Klaus Voorman and Jim Keltner who often played with the Beatles before and after breakup.   In the Grammys in 1973 Nilsson won the “Best Male Pop Vocal” Grammy award for the song.

Nilsson’s top song in my opinion was “Best Friend” the title them to the TV show “Courtship of Eddie’s Father.”   Nilsson was born in Brooklyn but lived in London in the early 70s.   Two famous 60s and 70s rock stars died in that flat while Nilsson lived in it. Do you know who those two people are?

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