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Harry Chapin followed in the great tradition of musical storytellers. His music touched a generation of fans with his unique singing and song writing ability. The critics never understood, as they often don’t, they labeled Harry overly sentimental, yet it was this very sentimentality that made him so popular. 

Harry began singing in High School in Brooklyn Heights. At this point he had formed a band with his brothers, but once off to college he pursued a career as a filmmaker, it is perhaps in this love for film that Harry developed his ability as a storyteller. One of the films Harry directed, Legendary Champions, received an Oscar nomination. 

But in 1971 He longed to return to music. After placing an ad in the New York newspaper the Village Voice, Harry rounded up a band consisting of Tim Scott, John Wallace, and Ron Palmer. While playing on the New York club circuit the band was discovered by Elektra records and were offered a record contract. 

The bands first release was titled Heads and Tails. This 1972 release spawned a hit with the song “taxi”, and the album sold well. It was Harry’s third album Short Stories, that really propelled him on to the charts aided by the hit song “W.O.L.D.” 

From there Harry produced his next album Verities and Balderdash which proved to be Harry’s most successful record by landing the number 4 spot on the Billboard charts. The album contained one of Harry’s most famous songs “Cat’s in the Cradle”, which tells the story of workaholic father’s distant relationship with his son. The song is said to have been inspired by a poem written by Harry’s wife. 

Taking a break from recording and touring, Harry began working on a musical “The Night that Made America Famous” which earned him two Tony nominations and ran for 2 months with 75 performances. 

After the close of the musical Harry released Portrait Gallery, which was followed up the next year by Greatest Stories Live. Greatest Stories, went gold and hit number 48 on Billboard. 

In 1980 Harry Released Sequel, the title tract was the sequel to Harry’s first hit “Taxi”. The song was an instant top 40 hit, sadly Harry’s last. 

An Auto accident claimed Harry’s life on July 16, 1981. This great storyteller and songwriter has been greatly missed since. There have been a number of tributes to Harry, the heavy metal band Ugly Kid Joe took the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” back to the top of the charts in the early 90’s with their remake. 

One cannot tell Harry’s story without including a mention of his charity work. During his life Harry worked hard to further causes he believed in. In 1975 he helped form the World Hunger Year, which pulled in over $350,000 it’s first year in the quest to aid famine victims. Harry also served as a Democratic Delegate to the 1976 Presidential Convention, and later met with President Carter to lobby for the establishment of a Presidential Commission on Hunger. Harry also won an Emmy award for work he did on the children television program “Make a Wish”. 

After his death a memorial fund was established in his name, with Elektra records donating $10,000 on Harry’s behalf. The fund has raised millions for causes that Harry cared deeply about. 

Harry’s stories have continued to live on as new generations of fans have discovered the magic of Harry’s work.  Every year new fans find the magic in Harry’s music and stories and some continue to enthusiastically support Harry’s charities, the circle continues....


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