Harry Nilsson – Without You (1971)

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Harry Nilsson, at the time best known for his hit “Everybody’s Talkin'” and for composing such hits as Three Dog Night’s “One”, heard Badfinger’s recording of “Without You” at a party, and mistook it for a Beatles’ song. After realising it was not, he decided to cover the song for his album Nilsson Schmilsson in 1971; it stayed at number 1 on the U.S. pop chart for four weeks, from 13 February to 11 March 1972. The song also spent five weeks atop the U.S. adult contemporary chart. In the UK, the song spent five weeks at number 1 on the British pop chart, beginning on 11 March, and sold almost 800,000 copies.It went to Number One in several other countries, including Australia (for 5 weeks), Ireland (3 weeks) and New Zealand (2 weeks). The single was produced by Richard Perry, who later explained, “It was a different record for its time. It was a big ballad with a heavy backbeat, and although many artists have cut songs like it since, no one was doing it then.” Gary Wright, then known as a member of the British group Spooky Tooth, and later a successful solo artist in his own right, played piano on the recording. Also featured are Klaus Voormann (bass), Jim Keltner (drums) and Tom Plovanic (acoustic guitar). The string and horn arrangements are by Paul Buckmaster. In 1973, Nilsson won the “Best Male Pop Vocal” Grammy award for the song. While Nilsson rarely gave live concerts, he did perform the song with Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in September 1992.




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