How Harry Nilsson lost his voice

American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson was one of the very few pop-rock recording artists who achieved significant success without ever having played major public concerts or undertaking usual touring schedules. Instead, he relied on his voice, recordings, and personality, which shined throughout the industry. Growing up, Nilsson grew interested in musical composition and close-harmony singing.

A tenor with a 3 ½ octave range capable of scaling angelic heights, Nilsson at the very beginning of his career was successful in having some of his songs recorded by various artists, such as The Monkees, Glen Campbell, Fred Astaire, The Yardbirds and so on. He quickly rose to prominence releasing albums like Pandemonium Shadow Show (1966), Harry (1969), Nilsson Schmilsson (1971) etc. all of which, once again, relied on his voice. But, following a rather heated exchange of spittle with John Lennon, that voice would start to downturn rather rapidly.

Nilsson’s accomplishments made him quite well known in the music industry. The Beatles were one of the many artists in the industry who became Nilsson fans. In an interview in 1968, when John Lennon was asked to name his favourite American artist, “Nilsson”. Paul McCartney, on being asked to name his favourite American group, also replied, “Nilsson”. It’s clear that the singer was beloved by his contemporaries if not necessarily a commercial guarantee.

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2 thoughts on “How Harry Nilsson lost his voice”

  1. Amy Corzine says:

    Drugs and being overweight ruined his health and therefore his voice, but he was such a great singer and songwriter. My fave American group too…

  2. joseph says:

    i heard it said that lennon and harry were having a vocal contest, to see who can scream music till it starts cracking. Such as lennon doing ‘twist and shout’. The fact that these two party buddies were drinking and on whatever drugs, surely had an effect. One of the greatest beautiful voices we lost.

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