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On March 11, 1972 Harry Nilsson's "Without You" ended its four week run at number one in the US and began its five week run at the top of UK charts.
Credit booze. Really. Nilsson has been up all night drinking and listening to albums.
He told the story to Dick Clark:
"After sobering up the next day, I said, 'What was that Lennon tune we were listening to last night?' We went though a bunch of (Beatles) albums and couldn't find it. Finally I said "No! It wasn't The Beatles, it was another group. It was Grapefruit or something "
Actually it was Badfinger. The album was 1970's No Dice.
Although the demo is a bit rough ( and therefore incredibly revealing) Harry knew he had something special. With the help of producer Richard Perry, Nilsson went after a more epic sound--one that showed off his incredible voice and his incredible range."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.--Richard Perry
Gary Wright of Spooky Tooth plays piano. Klaus Voorman is on bass. The single was the biggest hit of the year. Period. It sold millions of copies and earned Nilsson a Grammy Award. Paul McCartney called it "the killer song of all time."
The sad footnote: both of the writers behind the lyrics "I can't live/ If living is without you" committed suicide by hanging themselves. Pete Ham in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983.