Harry Nilsson At Blue Oyster Cult Audition

In “Eric Bloom Talks Blue Oyster Cult’s Studio Albums,” published November 2, 2012, at musicradar.com, vocalist Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult recalls the audition the band did for Columbia.

 “Harry Nilsson was there,” recalls Bloom. “The audition wasn’t at a club, it was in a conference room at Columbia, which I thought was strange. In this row of chairs sat Clive Davis, a couple of A&R guys, Patti Smith and Harry Nilsson. We had to play five feet in front of them.”

A huge fan of Nilsson, Bloom says that he was thrilled to see Harry there … until Nilsson walked out in the middle of one of the band’s songs.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Bloom. “Harry Nilsson walked out on our audition. I thought, That’s it. We’re through.”

Nilsson quickly returned and after the group finished their set, Bloom asked Nilsson why he left.

“He just looked at me like it was no big deal and said, ‘I had to go have a cigarette.'”

Blue Oyster Cult signed with Columbia in 1972.

A Liar’s Autobiography

On November 2, 2012, Brainstorm Media releases “A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untold Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman.” The 82-minute 3D animated feature features the voices of Python alumni Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam. Graham Chapman’s dialogue is from an audio book he recorded with Harry Nilsson in Nilsson’s studio. Bill Jones, Ben Timlett, and Jeff Simpson directed the film for Bill & Ben Productions.

Born in Leicester, England, Chapman studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Medical College and later at Cambridge. But, his professional career took a different direction. Through the 1960s, he wrote comedy for David Frost and others at the BBC. In 1969, the sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus premiered with Chapman as a member of the comedy troupe.

Chapman played the lead roles in Monty Python’s feature films Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian.

Chapman wrote, produced, and starred in the ill-fated film Yellowbeard. Harry Nilsson wrote and performed a song, “Men At Sea,” for the film, but it wasn’t used in Yellowbeard. The song does appear at the end of Group Madness, a documentary about the filming of Yellowbeard.

Chapman died on October 4, 1989, from tonsil cancer which he had been diagnosed with in November, 1988.

“A Liar’s Autobiography” will be released in theaters and on Epix.

Micky Dolenz Records “Remember”

Micky Dolenz has recorded his own version of Harry’s “Remember (Christmas)” for a new album titled Remember.

Dolenz began working with producer David Harris a few years ago.  As they discussed the album, Dolenz found himself telling stories such as attending a Beatles recording session for “Good Morning, Good Morning.” These stories insipired the selection of songs for the album.

Harry Nilsson is, undoubtably, the subject of many of Dolenz’s stories. “I was with him when he wrote a lot of songs. And of course, the Monkees were the first to record one of his songs.” The Monkees recorded “Cuddly Toy,” one of the first recordings of a song by Harry Nilsson.  “Of course, I think Harry would have done very well with or without the Monkees, but it’s nice to think we might have had some role in helping him get started. We became very close after that; in fact, we became best buds.”

Nora Ephron Dies

Screenwriter and director, Nora Ephron, died recently. Her films often incorporated popular music.  Her film You’ve Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, utilized four songs recorded by Harry Nilsson.  In You’ve Got Mail, an extended verision of Harry’s “Remember (Christmas)” became a sweeping orchestral accompliment to the film’s score. 

Nilsson’s recording of “Over the Rainbow” also appeared in the film.

Ray Bradbury Dies

Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and other classic novels, died on June 5, 2012, after a long illness.  He was 91.

In 1967, Harry Nilsson signed a three-year contract with RCA.  Nilsson titled hs first RCA album Pandemonium Shadow Show after “Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show,” a travelling carnival featured in Bradbury’s novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Originally, Nilsson wanted to call the album Something Wicked This Way Comes and wrote to Bradbury for permission to use the title. When a reply was not received in time, the album was renamed to Pandemonium Shadow Show. A photograph originally intended for the Something Wicked album cover appears on the back cover of Pandemonium Shadow Show.

Some years ago, I wrote Ray Bradbury to ask him a few questions about Nilsson’s desire to title his album after Bradbury’s novel. I also told him about a tribute CD recently recorded by a group of fans of Harry Nilsson which we titled Something Wicked.

I received the following typewritten letter in response. (You can click the letter to view an enlarged version of it.)

I don’t think he actually answered any of my questions. But, that doesn’t matter. I greatly appreciated that he took the time to respond and share his memories of Harry Nilsson. The letter is now framed and hanging in a place of honor in our house.

Bradbury is survived by his daughters Susan Nixon, Ramona Ostergren, Bettina Karapetian and Alexandra Bradbury; and eight grandchildren.