Shelly Leibowitz’s Memories of Harry

It’s not every day that Twitter puts you in touch with someone who’s worked closely with legendary artists but that’s exactly what happened recently. Shelly Leibowitz has worked with the greats and the truly greats. Amongst those was his friend Harry.

I knew two Harry’s, the professional artist and the fun loving drinking buddy.

When Harry was working he knew exactly what he wanted and he made sure that he got it. Musically he was a perfectionist and a creative genius. The inspiration for most of his songs came from deep within him. His talent always amazed me, his vocals and his songs were both made in heaven.

Anytime he was in NYC and not working he would call me up and ask me if I’d like to go out for a drink. So we would call up John Lennon and I’d ask him if he wanted to come out and play (Yoko would just shake her head). Needless to say we drank so much that we did not come back for at least three days, sometimes much longer, once it even turned into the famous “lost weekend”. There were times when I woke up in other countries. Harry was a bad influence on me with the drugs and drinking but I loved him like a brother. Our great sense of humor and our mutual love of all kinds of music bonded us. Once I took Harry and John to meet Ella Fitzgerald and they acted like they were meeting the Queen of England. She praised them for the song writing and she told Harry that she felt that he had the sweetest voice she ever heard. Harry blushed, laughed and then belched. We all laughed.

Harry had a fascination with the American Songbook songs so he liked to hang out with me when I was working with Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald or Sammy Davis Jr. He felt that at that time his voice was at its’ peak and that was the best time to record an album of standards which idea RCA hated. He had asked me to produce it for him but I was under contract with another label who would not give permission.

To me he was one of the greatest singers who ever lived and a songwriter who’s songs will live on forever. I miss Harry sitting at my piano playing new songs for me, joking around with me and us laughing together. Every morning I start my day with me playing one of his songs. I miss my friend every day!