On This Day – March 17, 1967

On this day in 1967, Harry Nilsson Meets Chip Douglas and members of the Monkees to demo his songs.

Jimmi Accardi’s Memories of Harry

Harry hides behind a tree

A composer, musician, producer and artist, Jimmi Accardi has written and played with some of the best. Here he shares a few fond memories of his time with Harry … towards the end.

I first met Harry in 1977 when I was the guitarist for Micky Dolenz & Davy Jones during their Monkees reunion tour in 1977. I didn’t see him again until 1993 close to Christmas time. It was more of a social/friendly visit but quickly turned into a two day recording session.

It was in northern California (Grass Valley) at our mutual friend, E.J. Gold’s, home studio. Harry knew E.J. from the 60s at RCA. We had Bob Bachtold join us on drums and Oz Fritz (engineer for so many great artists including Tom Waits). We hung out and jammed and Harry told us what was going on with him and trying to get a new album out. One of the sad things he said was that he left a demo of his new songs at RCA and they never got back to him so he had to call them. That’s when he found out that they never even gave the tapes a listen! He played us some ideas he had on cassette tapes of the things he wanted on his new album. One was a Jimmy Webb tune called “What Does a Woman See in a Man”. Also – “Try, Try, Try”, and a song that Yoko Ono had written lyrics for called “SNOW”. Harry gave me a cassette with just his voice and a single instrument on it. He asked if I would overdub some vocals, guitar, and drums so we did. We also did a duet of a mashup of “Yesterday” and “Georgia” which Harry was convinced was practically the same song except for the lyrics and a single chord. He asked me to sing the “Yesterday” part while he sung “Georgia”.

He’d recently been in the hospital due to complications with his health (I think due to years of abusing his body with drugs and alcohol), and his voice was shot – very hoarse and almost completely gone. But he was having a blast and it was great to have the honor of helping him out. During his stay, we talked and it came up that we were both born in the exact same section of Brooklyn (called Bushwick). He also shared a few stories about the time he spent with The Beatles and especially John. When he was getting ready to go home (he had his kids and his wife Una with him), he was excited and we had plans for him to come back to finish making the demos that would knock RCA out of their socks! I was actually working on one of the demo tapes he left when we got the call that he’d died in his sleep. What a sad feeling that was!!! I remember we had kind of our own vigil for him and recorded a whole album’s worth of Harry-inspired stuff including “Spaceman”, “Jump Into the Fire”, and many more. I still have the recordings.

One more thing. Harry was lazy and had to take a pee during one of the recording sessions and didn’t want to walk all the way from the studio to the house to use the bathroom. He asked “Would anyone mind if I peed on the big tree outside the studio?”. So he did and after he passed away – we named that tree “Harry”!

On This Day – March 12 1974

On this day in 1974, Harry Nilsson and John Lennon made their infamous visit to the Troubadour to see the Smothers Brothers.

On This Day – March 11, 1970

On this day in 1970, Harry Nilsson wins Best Contemporary Male Vocal Performance at the 12th Annual Grammy Awards for “Everybody’s Talkin’