Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter by Alyn Shipton, is scheduled to be published in July of this year. The 352 page biography traces Harry 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 Harry’s unfinished autobiography, Shipton probes beneath the enigma to discover the real Harry Nilsson.
Through the internet and Google maps, you can tour sites of significance in Harry Nilsson’s life.
Harry first lived in an apartment at 762 Jefferson Ave. in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York. Harry described Bushwick as “a crummy place to grow up if you’re blonde and white.” In a radio interview, Harry described being attacked by a group of teenaged girls which walking in the neighborhood.
After signing a $5 million contract with RCA, Harry had a home custom designed and built at 10549 Rocca Place in Bel Air, California. Designed by architect Eugene Kupper, the 7,640 square foot home was built on about one-acre of land in 1977.
Harry Nilsson wrote the songs and composed the soundtrack for the film Popeye starring Robin Williams. During the filming of Popeye, Harry and the other musicians stayed in Malta near the Sweethaven set buit for the film. The buildings and other fixtures of the fictional town live on as a tourist attraction called Popeye’s Village.
The RCA Building on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, is now the home of the Los Angeles Film School. Until the mid-1980s, the building was RCA’s west coast headquarters and housed RCA/Victor’s recording studios used by artists from Elvis Presley to Henry Mancini. The studio was the location for many of Harry Nilsson’s recordings.
If you know of any other locations to add to this travelogue, please leave a comment and I’ll try to add the site to this post.