Considering the numerous significant contributions that Harry Nilsson made to the music industry and the sustaining influence he has today, listing all of the reasons that justify his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be nearly impossible. Here are 13 of the more compelling reasons that everyone should know.
1. Artistic Excellence – His contemporaries were in awe of his talent. Even The Beatles publicly endorsed him as their “favorite group” when he was still a relative unknown.
2. That voice – Seriously…just listen: Harry Nilsson – Don’t Leave Me
3. Everyone covered his songs – The Turtles, Dave Brubeck, The Monkees, Ella Fitzgerald, Link Wray, Astrud Gilberto, and Three Dog Night (the list goes on for days)…
4. Everyone still covers his songs – Neko Case, LCD Soundsystem, Aimee Mann, The Eels, Shooter Jennings, Ron Sexsmith, Jellyfish, Shonen Knife, The Walkmen, and Macy Gray (the list goes on for days)…
5. In fact, at least 9 current Hall of Famers covered his songs – The Supremes, The Ronettes, Neil Diamond, Rick Nelson, Herb Alpert, Brian Wilson, Jack Bruce, Lavern Baker and The Yardbirds.
6. At least 6 more current Hall of Famers collaborated with him – John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Randy Newman, Keith Moon, Dr. John, and Phil Spector.
7. He never played live – He managed to make it to the top of the charts without ever playing to a live audience.
8. Among the first to record a kid’s album – His album The Point and the animated film based on it, established him as one of the earliest artists to experiment with children’s media.
9. One of the first rock artist to make an album of standards – A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night was among the earliest attempts by a rock artist to record the Great American Songbook.
10. Influence on film – Beyond the theme to Midnight Cowboy, filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Terry Gilliam, Nora Ephron, Noah Baumbach, Stephen Frears, Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino have turned to his music to illuminate key moments in some of most memorable their films.
11. Influence on hip-hop – His records have been sampled by hip-hop artists such as Cypress Hill, PM Dawn, Jurassic 5 and Blackalicious, who based the title song of their Blazing Arrow album on his “Me and My Arrow.”
12. Influence on indie rock – His pioneering use of vocal layering, and the DIY ethic that marked many of his later recordings continues to influence. Artists like Father John Misty, Elliot Smith and Badly Drawn Boy clearly drew from this well.
13. He has become an icon – In addition to his many artistic accomplishments, Nilsson’s subversive artistic tendencies and hard-partying lifestyle are legendary and have become an indelible part of rock’s iconography.
He’s got the resume. Now it is time to vote him in!