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Harry Chapin : Biography

Harry Chapin : Biography
General November 14, 2010
  • Harry Chapin enjoyed a full creative life before his recording career with Elektra took flight. Immensely talented, as both a writer and filmmaker, he earned an Academy Award nomination in 1968 for Legendary Champions, a documentary film about boxing that he wrote and directed. Chapin was simultaneously working the clubs as the Chapin Brothers (with brothers Tom and Stephen), but by 1971, found his special niche as a writer and performer. He formed a group designed to convey the inner light of his storytelling songs through an unusual line-up: two guitars with bass and cello accompaniment. Jac Holzman fought hard to sign him, and one of the deal points that convinced Harry was Jac’s offer to personally produce Chapin’s debut album, Heads And Tails.

    Chapin’s breakthrough hit was the six-minute “Taxi,” which demonstrated his command of narrative song, well suited for the increasingly important FM side of the radio dial. Chapin’s reputation was further burnished by the hits “W-O-L-D” and the #1 “Cat’s In The Cradle” in 1974. Chapin would remain a popular and engaging Elektra artist until the end of the ‘70s. If Carly Simon was Elektra's Judy Collins for the new decade, Harry Chapin was its new Tom Paxton.

    Tragically, in 1980, his VW was hit by a truck in Jericho, New York, and Harry was killed. While maintaining his career as a songwriter and performer, Harry had become involved in politics, standing as delegate to the 1976 Democratic Convention. He tirelessly played benefits, raising millions of dollars for his crusade against world hunger for which he was posthumously awarded the civilian Congressional Medal Of Honor.  

Geneva's picture
on November 14, 2010 - 12:00am

Harry Chapin enjoyed a full creative life before his recording career with Elektra took flight. Immensely talented, as both a writer and filmmaker, he earned an Academy Award nomination in 1968 for Legendary Champions, a documentary film about boxing that he wrote and directed. Chapin was simultaneously working the clubs as the Chapin Brothers (with brothers Tom and Stephen), but by 1971, found his special niche as a writer and performer. He formed a group designed to convey the inner light of his storytelling songs through an unusual line-up: two guitars with bass and cello accompaniment. Jac Holzman fought hard to sign him, and one of the deal points that convinced Harry was Jac’s offer to personally produce Chapin’s debut album, Heads And Tails.

Chapin’s breakthrough hit was the six-minute “Taxi,” which demonstrated his command of narrative song, well suited for the increasingly important FM side of the radio dial. Chapin’s reputation was further burnished by the hits “W-O-L-D” and the #1 “Cat’s In The Cradle” in 1974. Chapin would remain a popular and engaging Elektra artist until the end of the ‘70s. If Carly Simon was Elektra's Judy Collins for the new decade, Harry Chapin was its new Tom Paxton.

Tragically, in 1980, his VW was hit by a truck in Jericho, New York, and Harry was killed. While maintaining his career as a songwriter and performer, Harry had become involved in politics, standing as delegate to the 1976 Democratic Convention. He tirelessly played benefits, raising millions of dollars for his crusade against world hunger for which he was posthumously awarded the civilian Congressional Medal Of Honor.  

Artist: 
Harry Chapin